AN elderly woman visits the doctor’s surgery with a large bruise on her face. She tells the doctor that she fell, too afraid to admit that it was her daughter who inflicted the injury. An elderly man wonders why his pension money seems to be running out quicker than normal, unaware that his ‘carer’ is helping herself to the cash out of his wallet. In another instance an elderly person is harangued and coerced into signing over their home or savings to a ‘caring’ relative.
All these people are victims of elder abuse and we all have a role to play in ensuring that it stops.
Last week Age Action hosted a conference in Athy to raise awareness of the issue of elder abuse and to confront the reality that these victims, who are among our most vulnerable people, face.
The conference heard that only one in five cases of elder abuse are reported by family or friends of the victims. The other 80% of the reported cases were reported by HSE staff through their elder abuse service.
A survey carried out by the National Centre for the Protection of Older People found that 18,700 people over the age of 65 had experienced some form of abuse, with abuse occurring in 10,000 cases within the past year.
Eamonn Timmins of Age Action Ireland told the Kildare Nationalist that the general community needs to be more aware of the prevalence of elder abuse. “This is something that people in the general community know nothing about. We are trying to raise awareness of what elder abuse is and how to recognise the signs. We are also saying to older people that are being abused that they don’t have to put up with it.”
Mr Timmins said that elder abuse can take many forms. “There can be physical abuse with people being kicked and punched and there can also be financial abuse with someone being forced to sign over their home or their savings. A number of cases involve psychological abuse and in a small number of cases there is sexual abuse. The abuse is usually perpetrated by an immediate family member. Elder abuse usually occurs when there is a relationship of trust. The wider community needs to be aware of the signs and to recognise that doing nothing is not an option.”
SOURCE: The Kildare Nationalist, IE
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