Rise in elderly abuse figures
In 2014, there were a total of 2,592 referrals made to the elder abuse service which is an increase of 5% on referrals from 2013. This represents the largest number of referrals received in any year since the service was established.
Of these psychological abuse was the most frequently reported form of abuse at 29%, followed by financial abuse (21%), self-neglect (21%), neglect (15%) and physical abuse (12%). There was a significant increase in the number of concerns that first originated from older people themselves, from 19% in 2013 to 26% in 2014.
As has been characteristic of previous years, the alleged perpetrators are adult children in 49% of cases, partner/husband wife (19%) and “other relative” (15%). Additionally there were 5% of cases classified as “other”, when further explored these predominantly related to Landlord/Lodger related concerns which was evident for both male and female clients.
Commenting on the figures, Paschal Moynihan , HSE Specialist Older Persons Services commented ; “We would encourage anyone who has a concern about abuse of an older person to contact their GP, public health nurse or any healthcare worker”.
Whilst most older people do not experience abuse, for those that do it can manifest in different ways. Abuse can take place in any context; it may occur when an older person lives alone or with a relative, it may occur within residential or day care settings, in hospitals, home support services and other places assumed to be safe, or in public places.
All referrals of alleged elder abuse are treated in confidence and, as much as possible, handled in a way that respects the wishes of the older person. The aim of the elder abuse service is to ensure the safety and well-being of an older person while providing support to stop the abusive behaviour.
If a person is being abused, or if someone is concerned about abuse or suspect that someone they know is being abused, they should contact the HSE Information Line on 1850 24 1850. Alternatively, they can contact a health professional such as GP, public health nurse or social worker.
Elder Abuse has been defined as a “single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person or violates their human and civil rights” (Protecting Our Future, 2002).