World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

By Lenore Rice

Thursday 15th June is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which aims to increase awareness about the abuse and suffering inflicted on older people in Northern Ireland, the UK and the rest of the world.

Almost all countries across the world are expecting to see a continued substantial growth in the number of older people in the next decade, and the global population of people aged 60 and over is expected to reach 1.2billion in 2025. Elder abuse can involve violence, but may also include less noticeable crimes such as financial and material exploitation, which can then result in other issues of poverty, hunger, homelessness, compromised health and well-being, and even premature mortality. Elder abuse remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed areas of crime. Some examples of abuse are:

  • stealing or pressurising someone to hand over money
  • making decisions without consulting the person involved
  • treating someone in a way that makes them feel threatened, belittled or embarrassed
  • touching someone in a way they don’t want to be touched
  • physically hurting someone
  • neglecting someone’s needs

 

If the older person is in care some example of abuse are:

  • not being given sufficient food
  • not being kept sufficiently warm
  • refusing to take them to a doctor when they are ill
  • preventing them from seeing friends and family

Statistics on reported crime suggest that around 4 to 6 per cent of older people have experienced some form of maltreatment at home, which can result in serious physical injuries and long-term psychological harm. Under-reporting is an issue and means the problem is perhaps considerably bigger, and is expected to grow with the increase in number of older people in coming years.

The United Nations General Assembly designated 15th June as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, with a goal of a united global voice bringing awareness to the problem of abuse and suffering inflicted on older people.

If you have experienced some form of abuse and have spoken to the person involved without seeing any change in their behaviour, or if you are concerned that someone is suffering a form of elder abuse you should:

  • Call the police if you think a crime has been committed or that the person is in immediate danger
  • Contact the local council if the concern of abuse relates to a person in a care home
  • Call the UK Action on Elder Abuse helpline on 0808 8088 141