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Call for vigilance as elder abuse in Ireland on the increase

Last year, the HSE said that it had seen an increase of almost 10 per cent on referrals for elder abuse.

ELDER ABUSE IN Ireland is on the increase, ALONE, the charity which supports older people in need, has said.

It made the call for continued vigilance from the public, service providers and government as today marks World Elder Abuse awareness day.

According to a report on the National Study of Elder Abuse and Neglect, published by the National Centre for the Protection of Older People (NCPOP), reported incidents of elder abuse have continuously increased since 2009.

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Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, said:

With resources being continuously strained it is everyone’s duty to report incidents of suspected elder abuse. This can take a number of forms, be it physical, emotional or financial and is a cause of extreme distress for the victim.

Moynihan said that during times of austerity, “it can often happen that vulnerable people feel that they must endure more hardship and as a result not report abuse”.

Elder abuse is 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.”

This definition applies to people aged 65 and over and includes inadequacies of care or inappropriate care – it excludes self neglect and crime by strangers.

According to research carried out by NCPOP, people with lower levels of education and lower incomes were more likely to have experienced mistreatment compared to those with higher levels of education, higher incomes, and non-manual employment. People with poor levels of community or family support reported a higher prevalence of abuse or neglect.

Moynihan said that elder abuse is carried out by individuals who are known to the victim, “making it more distressing and shocking and more difficult to report”.

He said that many of the risk factors associated with elder abuse and neglect will increase in Irish society over the coming decades given the rapidly ageing population.

It’s essential that a strategy is drafted by government to deal with the multitude of issues that an ageing population will face.

A study was carried out by NCPOP in 2009 which found a total of 1,870 elder abuse cases were referred to the HSE. In 2010, there were approximately 2000 referrals of elder abuse, an increase of 13 per cent from 2009.

In 2011, there were 2,302 cases of elder abuse reported to the HSE, a rise of 9 per cent from the previous year.

Older people in need of support can contact ALONE on (01) 679 1032.

Read: HSE reports 9 per cent increase in elder abuse referrals>

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