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June 1, 2012

Report All Elder Abuse Suspicions

 Report all elder abuse suspicions
By Editor Saturday
June 2nd, 2012

THE HSE received 2,302 referrals of elder abuse last year, which represented an increase of 9% on 2010, and this greater number of such reports – while illustrating a welcome extra awareness of this serious blight on our society – would seem to indicate that there is a lot more abuse going on than people realise. What makes the situation even sadder is that, in the majority of cases, the abuse was being perpetrated by close relatives, and in 48 per cent of all cases, the alleged abuser and victim were living together.

Psychological abuse was the most common type reported last year, accounting for just over a third of allegations. Almost a quarter involved financial abuse, while neglect (19%) and physical abuse (12%) were the other types reported and there were also incidences of self-neglect and a small, but totally unacceptable number of cases of abuse of people residing in private nursing homes.

Our excellent public health nursing service was to the fore in identifying suspected abuse cases, as they have regular contact with elderly people in their homes Рwhere some 81% of alleged abuse occurs Рand can act as their advocates where necessary. However, they can only pass on their suspicions to social services who may ultimately involve the Gardaí, if warranted, and in all cases the wishes of the older person need to be respected; only 15% of alleged cases last year were referred to the Gardai.

A study by the National Centre for the Protection of Older People in 2010, found anecdotal evidence of under-reporting of elder abuse and reasons given to them for people’s reluctance to report it included not recognising the behaviour as abusive, a reluctance to inform on perpetrators, lack of knowledge on how to report abuse, feelings of guilt or shame as well as a lack of confidence in the professionals to detect or respond to elder abuse.

To give them their due, HSE personnel do their best to resolve most suspected cases of elder abuse by working with families to resolve issues, with monitoring, home support, counselling and mediation being used as appropriate, but this can only happen where co-operation is forthcoming.

Families tend to be tight-knit, so detecting abuse in the first place can be difficult, especially when sons or daughters were the alleged perpetrators in 44% of cases reported last year, a partner, husband or wife in 18% of cases and other relatives in 18% of cases. Also, many older people may be too proud to admit that they are being abused by one of their own, so a large amount of cases may go unreported or undetected.

Most of the alleged victims of elder abuse in 2011 were female and there was a higher referral rate among the over-80 years age group, compared to 64 to 79-year-olds. The over-80s tend to be more dependent on others to look after their affairs and often feel that they are not in a position to complain, especially where psychological abuse is being perpetrated against them, so anyone who suspects that such people’s vulnerability is being exploited should report their suspicions in confidence to the appropriate authorities.

With most cases of elder abuse occurring in the community, the older people’s charity Age Action is encouraging the public to make themselves aware of the possible warning signs of abuse. There are a lot more older people often living lonely lives in rural areas who may also be vulnerable to abuse.

Overall, since 2008, the number of referrals of elder abuse has risen by 22% and this has been attributed to an increasing public awareness of the issue and a greater appreciation of how to report abuse. Anyone who is being abused, or is concerned about abuse, should talk to someone they can trust, a health professional such as a GP, public health nurse or social worker, or contact the HSE information line on 1850 24 1850 – open Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm.

SOURCE:    The Southern Star, ie
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Any Charges Reported on this blog are Merely Accusations and the Defendants are Presumed Innocent Unless and Until Proven Guilty.

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