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April 2, 2012

Supportive Approach Can Reduce Elder Abuse Risk (IRELAND)

March 31, 2012
By Gary Culliton

Despite GPs being the most likely point of contact for older persons who are at risk, just 4 per cent of referrals to the network of Senior Case Workers who deal with reports of suspected elder abuse come from GPs. This is in spite of what Dr David Robinson, Consultant in Geriatric Medicine, St James’s Hospital, views as “an increasing awareness of the problems of an aging population”. A new RCPI initiative aims to address the matter.
In an Irish context, there is a high level of GP contact with older people, particularly those that have been exposed to elder abuse (NCPOP, 2010). Research indicates that most older people who have experienced mistreatment have accessed some kind of formal health or social service within the previous six months. By far the most likely point of contact was the older person’s GP. Over three-quarters of older people who experienced mistreatment had high-frequency contact with their GPs — more than two visits in six months.
Awareness is key
There is a general consensus that there is under-reporting in relation to elder abuse (NCPOP, 2010; Lachs MS & Pillemer K, The Lancet (2004); O’Brien JG, Journal of Elder Abuse (2010); Clancy M et al, Age and Ageing 2011; National Elder Abuse Incidence Study, 1998). Between 5 and 10 per cent of the older population can be subject to abuse by people who have a duty to care for them, international studies show, said Sarah Mahon, Dedicated Officer for the Protection of Older People, HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster Region. “Elder abuse is everybody’s business,” she added. “Awareness is key.”



Research studies have found that the existence of physical or cognitive impairment increases elder abuse referral rates when compared to general population studies ((NCPOP), 2010; Cooper C et al, BMJ 2009); Cooney C et al, International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2006).
A different approach is needed towards people over the age of 65, added Dr Robinson. This group accounts for 10 to 11 per cent of the population but is set to double over the next 20 years.

Abridged
SOURCE:      Irish Medical Times, ie
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