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February 15, 2012

WHO/Europe Report: An Estimated 10,000 Old People Abused Every Day

New WHO/Europe report: an estimated 10 000 old people physically abused every day
Budapest, Copenhagen and Rome, 16 June 2011

Every year at least 4 million older people in the WHO European Region are estimated to suffer physical abuse: being slapped, punched, kicked, burned, wounded with a knife or locked in their rooms. Research also indicates that as many as 2500 older people may die at the hands of family members. These are the main findings of the new European report on preventing elder maltreatment, released today by WHO/Europe at the 3rd European Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, in Budapest, Hungary. The report gives the first description of the size, causes and consequences of elder maltreatment, and provides an overview of good practice in prevention.

“This is very shocking,” says Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe: “This abuse is destroying the lives of older people, and affecting their mental and physical well-being at a time when they are very vulnerable. The European population is ageing rapidly and governments need to act urgently to halt this growing health and social problem. This report will help.”

In 2050, a third of the Region’s population will be aged 60 years and older, due to a combination of increased life expectancy and a decline in fertility. More resources will be needed to pay pensions and to provide health and social care. Having more old people dependent on younger carers will place extra strain on economic, social and family structures, particularly at a time of financial constraint. This may in turn increase the numbers of old people who are abused.

The new report, covering the 53 countries in the European Region, looks at physical, sexual, mental and financial abuse; along with neglect, such abuse comprises elder maltreatment in both private settings and residential and nursing homes. In addition to the estimated 4 million older people physically abused each year:

29 million are subjected to mental abuse (insults or threats);
6 million to financial abuse (stolen money or fraud); and
1 million to sexual abuse (sexual harassment, molestation, rape or exposure pornography).

Abridged
SOURCE:     WHO (Regional Office for Europe)


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