Almost 2,000 elder abuse reports a year

Older people’s charities have called for greater action against elder abuse, with figures showing an average of almost 2,000 suspected cases formally reported to health authorities every year.

Age Action warned the figures did not tell the full story. “This is just the tip of the iceberg, with widespread under-reporting being a global feature of elder abuse,” said spokesman Eamon Timmins.

He cited a 2010 report by the HSE’s National Centre for the Protection of Older People, which found that 10,200 older people had been abused in the previous 12 months alone, although just 11,500 formal reports were made over six years.

Age Action is calling on the Government to back moves to draft a UN Convention on the Rights of Older People but Mr Timmins also urged the general public to play their part by being aware of the warning signs of abuse and knowing what to do about it.

“Greater public awareness of abuse and what to do if you suspect it is occurring can be a key protection for older people. When it comes to elder abuse, doing nothing is not an option.”

The ALONE charity also urged members of the public to speak up if they suspected elder abuse, instead of leaving it to the victim to act. “Abuse is often carried out by a carer or family member that the older person relies upon and this makes the older person fearful of speaking out and losing their only source of contact, help or support,” said CEO Sean Moynihan.

lAnyone who needs help can contact ALONE on 01-6791032; Age Action on 01-4756989; the HSE at 1850 24 1850; or see the National Centre’s website, www.ncpop.ie, for a list of regional contacts.

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