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December 1, 2010

Adult Children Most Likely to Commit Elder Abuse (IRELAND)


Adult children most likely to commit elder abuse
By Eilish O'Regan
November 29 2010

There have been 1,389 official reports of elderly people being abused in the first nine months of this year, new figures reveal. The largest category was financial abuse (26pc), followed by neglect (25pc) and psychological bullying (24pc).
Other categories include physical abuse (15pc) and there were also forms of attack reported on the older person's well-being, including sexual abuse, the HSE revealed.
The shocking statistics come in the wake of the ordeal of a couple in their 70s revealed in a court hearing recently in Co Offaly.
Their 38-year-old son, who made them walk around their home naked and take cold showers, was given a 15-year jail sentence at Tullamore Circuit Court.
He had effectively turned their home into a concentration camp and made their lives a daily hell.
However, this is not an isolated case and the real extent of elder abuse remains hidden behind closed doors.
The most likely perpetrators of this abuse or neglect are adult children. Sometimes it is the the older person's carer who are themselves under stress.
"Older people who are being abused are out and about in their communities. Elder abuse awareness should not just be restricted to the health professions," said Age Action spokesman Eamonn Timmins.
He added: "Everybody who has contact with older people should be aware of the possible symptoms -- everyone from post office workers and shop staff who deal with older people collecting pensions and their groceries, to members of older people's groups and neighbours."
He also said that community groups and older people's groups are encouraged to get a copy of the elder abuse information DVD 'Open Your Eyes to Elder Abuse in Your Community', produced by the HSE earlier this year.
Copies are available from the HSE Services for Older People Office, St Joseph's Hospital, Mulgrave St, Limerick, or call the number 061-461141.
'Protecting our Future', the report of the Working Group on Elder Abuse, published in September 2002, outlined the following possible indicators of elder abuse. Symptoms to look out for include:
  • Demoralisation
  • Depression
  • Feelings of hopelessness/helplessness
  • Disrupted appetite/sleeping pattern
  • Excessive fears
  • Agitation
  • Unexplained paranoia
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition.
The HSE has appointed officers whose sole job is to respond to reports of elder abuse. They can be contacted by ringing the HSE information line 1850 24 1850.

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