Reported abuse of elderly rose 9% last year, HSE figures show


MORE THAN 2,302 allegations of abuse of elderly people were reported to the Health Service Executive last year, according to figures published yesterday.

The HSE’s elder-abuse services said the number of referrals of elder abuse it received rose by 9 per cent compared with 2010, when 2,111 referrals were made.

Since 2008 there has been a national increase of 22 per cent in the rate of referrals made.

The HSE attributed the rise to a number of factors, including increasing public awareness of the issue and a greater appreciation of how to report abuse.

Of the cases referred to the HSE during 2011, 1,867 had a person allegedly causing concern, while 429 involved self-neglect and six represented organisational abuse.

Psychological abuse was the most common type of abuse reported, accounting for 35 per cent of all cases. This was followed by financial abuse, neglect and physical abuse.

According to the HSE’s Elder Abuse Report 2011, most of the alleged victims were female. In addition there was a higher referral rate among the over-80 age group compared with 65- to 79-year-olds.

The study shows 81 per cent of referrals related to individuals living at home. In 8 per cent of cases, individuals were residing in private nursing homes.

Alleged perpetrators of abuse tend to be related to the abused. The study shows sons or daughters were alleged perpetrators in 44 per cent of cases reported last year. An individual’s partner was linked to 18 per cent of cases, while other relatives accounted for a further 18 per cent. In 48 per cent of cases the alleged abuser and victim were living together.

Last year there was consultation with An Garda Síochána in 15 per cent of cases.

According to a study from the National Centre for the Protection of Older People, more older people are experiencing abuse than are reporting it. In 2010, the organisation estimated 10,201 older people had experienced abuse in the previous year.

The study suggested several reasons for the under-reporting of abuse, including not recognising the behaviour as abusive, a reluctance to inform on perpetrators, lack of knowledge on how to report abuse and a lack of confidence in the professionals to detect or respond to elder abuse.

Anyone who is being abused, or is concerned about abuse, should contact the HSE Information Line on 1850 24 1850.