ALONE calls for safeguarding legislation amid rise in cases of abuse of elderly

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A charity which supports older people to age at home has called for the introduction of legislation to safeguard adults amid an increase in the number of cases of abuse of elderly people.

ecently released figures revealed that almost 16,000 cases of elder abuse have been reported within Health Service Executive-funded services for older people over the past five years.

ALONE noted a “worrying, but not unexpected, increase” in reported elder abuse concerns taking place during the pandemic. The number of abuse concerns relating to over-65s increased from 3,029 in 2016 to a peak of 3,412 in 2020, the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many older people experienced a loss of independence due to Covid-19 safety restrictions, and had to resort to relying on others for support and assistance in their day-to-day lives, leaving them more at risk of abuse, the charity said.

“This is a silent abuse as a call for help is hard to make,” the charity said in a statement today.

The organisation is calling attention to the fact that despite the increase in elder abuse, national adult safeguarding legislation has still not been introduced. An Adult Safeguarding Bill introduced in the Seanad in 2017 has not made further progress.

ALONE said the purposes of the Bill include making further and better provision for the care and protection of adults who are at risk, among other safeguards.

“Elder abuse manifests itself in many forms. It may be physical, psychological, emotional, financial, sexual, discrimination, or neglect. It may be controlling an older person’s pension, overcharging them for odd jobs or making them feel like a burden,” Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, said.

“Elder abuse is an insidious form of abuse that often goes quietly unseen and it is not talked about enough in today’s society. Older people with health, financial, and other difficulties can be particularly at risk. Unfortunately, in many cases, elder abuse is carried out by people we already know and believe we can trust,” he said.

“Adult safeguarding legislation has been stalled in the Seanad for several years. We have now seen the reporting of elder abuse cases increase. This World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we are calling for immediate action to be taken to get this legislation in place.”

ALONE is supporting the HSE National Safeguarding Office campaign for World Elder Abuse Day, June 15: ‘Rights Don’t Get Old’.

Many cases of elder abuse go unreported and it can often be a hidden issue, the charity said.

“Abuse of older people is often carried out by a carer or family member that the older person relies upon and, as a result, the abused individual is often fearful of speaking out and losing their source of contact, help or support.

“Older people who have no support within their community, without friends, neighbours or family to turn to, are more than four times more likely to suffer abuse than those with high levels of community support,” the statement from the charity said.



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