Elder abuse cases rise by 7% between 2011 and 2012

Psychological abuse, financial abuse and neglect most common types of elder abuse

Minister of State with responsibility for Older People Kathleen Lynch said the abuse suffered by a small number of older people was ‘disturbing’.  Photograph: Irish Times

Minister of State with responsibility for Older People Kathleen Lynch said the abuse suffered by a small number of older people was ‘disturbing’. Photograph: Irish Times

Thu, Jul 25, 2013, 16:23

Psychological abuse, financial abuse and neglect were the most common types of elder abuse reported to the HSE last year according to figures released today show.

The number of cases of alleged elder abuse reported to the HSE in 2012 has grown again this year with 158 more cases reported last year in comparison with 2011, or a 7 per cent increase.

When case of self neglect are excluded psychological abuse was the most common type of abuse, making up more than a third, or 36 per cent, of all cases.

Financial abuse accounted for a quarter of all reported case while neglect was reported in 19 per cent of cases and physical abuse in 13 per cent of referrals.

Women were more likely to become victims of abuse with two thirds of all cases involving females while there was a higher referral rate among over 80s compared to 65- to 79-year-olds.

Alleged perpetrators of abuse tended to be related to the victim with family members implicated in 83 per cent of cases.

In almost half of all reported cases (46 per cent) the alleged perpetrator was the son or daughter of the victim while “other relatives” were implicated in 20 per cent of cases and a partner or spouse in 17 per cent of referrals.

Minister of State with responsibility for Older People, Kathleen Lynch described the abuse suffered by a small number of older people as “disturbing”.

However she noted that there are services available for people suffering abuse adding that it is “encouraging that a greater number of older people are coming forward each year to voice their concerns”.

“I would urge anyone who is concerned about abuse to seek help and support from the HSE which has a dedicated service in place for older people experiencing abuse,” she said.

Age Action said the rise in the number of cases of alleged elder abuse was evidence there is greater public awareness in relation to elder abuse.

“Elder abuse continues to be under-reported in Ireland but today’s report indicates that more older people are now seeking help,” spokesperson for the organisation, Eamon Timmins said.

Elder abuse is defined as a single or repeated action, or lack of appropriate action, which occurs within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, and which causes harm or distress to an older person.

Those experiencing abuse or concerned that abuse is occurring are urged to contact a health professional such as GP, public health nurse or social worker or to call the HSE information line on 1850 24 1850.