2,500 incidents of elder abuse reported to the HSE last year

Most alleged abuse is perpetrated by a family member, with children accounting for 45% of cases

The HSE review says women are twice as likely as men to be the victim of alleged elder abuse, while referral rates for women increases with age.

The HSE review says women are twice as likely as men to be the victim of alleged elder abuse, while referral rates for women increases with age.

 

Elder abuse continues to be a problem for the health services, with almost 2,500 incidents reported to the HSE last year, a new report indicates. The number of referrals of elder abuse, at 2,437, was down 1 per cent on the previous year, but overall the figure has increased 30 per cent since 2008.

According to the HSE’s annual review of its elder abuse services for 2013, when referrals of self-neglect are excluded there were 1,900 referrals to the HSE in 2013. Psychological abuse was the most common abuse reported at 33 per cent, followed by financial abuse (26 per cent), neglect (21 per cent) and physical abuse (14 per cent).

In line with previous years, the public health nursing service is the main source of referral, with hospital staff and family being the other major sources. In 27 per cent of cases, the concern first originated from families, while in 19 per cent it came from the older person.

Women were twice as likely as men to be the victim of alleged elder abuse, while referral rates for women increased with age. However, younger males – aged from 65 to 74 – were more likely to be referred.

Most alleged abuse is perpetrated by a family member. Sons or daughters accounted for 45 per cent of cases, partners for 19 per cent, while other relatives were involved in 15 per cent of referrals.

Frank Murphy, chairman of the National Elder Abuse steering committee, urged anyone with a concern about abuse of an older person to contact their GP, public health nurse or any healthcare worker.

The HSE says that while 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 daycare settings, in hospitals, home-support services and other places assumed to be safe, or in public places.”