Quarter of older people are victims of financial abuse

One in four older people fell victim to financial abuse last year, figures reveal.

The HSE received 2,302 allegations of elder abuse, a 9% increase on 2010.

The most common type of abuse reported was psychological — it accounted for more than one third of cases reported.

In 20% of cases the alleged abuse was neglect, while in 12% of cases it was physical.

There were 429 cases of self-neglect, with a further six related to organisational abuse.

Sons or daughters were the alleged perpetrators in 44% of cases, followed by a partner, spouse, or other relative at 18%.

In almost half of all cases the alleged abuser and victim were living together.

The gardaí were notified about 248 cases of alleged elder abuse last year.

Frank Murphy, chairman of the health authority’s national elder abuse steering committee, said the increase in reported cases showed that people were more aware of the issue.

“This may be as a result of the significant efforts that the HSE and its partners, have made in recent years in trying to increase awareness of the issue. It may also be a sign that people are having growing confidence in the service.”

When the HSE started recording elder abuse data in 2007 it found there were 927 referrals.

Mr Murphy said intervention by the HSE was not about righting a wrong done or establishing guilt but rather to respond to the needs and wishes of the older people and working with them and their families to resolve the issue.

The HSE has found that, in the vast majority of cases, the older person wanted the abuse to stop but wished their relationship with the abuser to continue.

The main source of referral was the public health nursing service. Referrals were also made by hospital or HSE staff and family members.

Two thirds of the alleged victims last year were women and in over half of all referrals the victim was over 80 years old.

Since 2008 there have been 1,555 cases of substantiated abuse, including 283 cases last year. There were 395 cases with a physical dimension substantiated in the past four years. In 60 cases legal action was taken.

Most physical abuse is perpetrated by men. However, last year there was a significant increase in women engaging in this type of abuse — from around a third to 43%.

Age Action welcomed last year’s increase in the number of elder abuse cases referred to the HSE.

“It is widely accepted that the elder abuse problem is under-reported and so the fact that more people are coming forward for help is a very positive development,” said spokesman Eamon Timmins.

Anyone experiencing elder abuse can call the HSE information line 1850 241850 or contact their GP, public health nurse, or social worker.


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