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November 22, 2008

Elderly Abuse Down, But.. (Singapore)

Elderly abuse down
By Melissa Sim
Nov 20, 2008

WHILE new statistics show that the number of elderly abuse victims fell slightly last year to 170, experts say the figure is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Doctors and help groups for the elderly fear the actual number could be up to 10 times as many, because most seniors keep things like physical abuse, neglect and psychological torment to themselves.

General manager of the Singapore Action Group of Elders (Sage) Phua Kok Tee said it remained a challenge to convince the elderly to 'spill the beans'.
Often they rely on their abusers, including sons and daughters, for support and fear reporting mistreatment will cut off that lifeline.

Dr Phua Dong Haur, a consultant in emergency medicine at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, said senior abuse is under-reported.

In a recently published paper, Dr Phua noted that his hospital's emergency department fielded 27 suspected cases of mistreatment over a one-year span starting in 2005.
An earlier study, in which seniors reported abuse themselves, tallied just 17 cases over 31/2years.

International studies also show that 70 to 90per cent of abused seniors do not report being mistreated.

Dr Phua cited the recent case of a 68-year-old man who was admitted to the hospital's emergency department.

The man's son had beaten him with a ruler, leaving him with bruises.
But the victim did not want to involve his son and rejected help from medical social workers.
Physical abuse is just one aspect of mistreatment. Some seniors fall victim to sexual abuse, emotional and psychological mistreatment and neglect, among other things.

SOURCE: Straits Times Singapore
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