World Elder Abuse Awareness Day takes place on Friday, June 15th. Every year this international initiative raises public awareness about elder abuse in its many forms; physical, sexual, psychological, financial, discriminatory and neglect.
Awareness of elder abuse has risen in the last year with a 9% increase in the number of alleged elder abuse cases received by the HSE last year. In 2011, 2,302 cases of elder abuse were reported to the HSE, the largest number of cases in any year since the service began in 2007.
The increase in reported cases has been welcomed by age support groups, including Home Instead Senior Care, which believes that there is more awareness of the problem of elder abuse, which heretofore had been widely under-reported.
According to Danette Connolly, Director of Care, Home Instead Senior Care, Waterford, these figures indicate that there is a broader awareness of elder abuse than ever before.
“Whilst elder abuse remains a horrific and very real issue, the HSE findings are to be welcomed as it shows a marked increase in the number of cases being reported. As health care professionals, it is our duty to ensure that families of seniors and the wider community come forward to report instances of abuse that they are aware of.”
According to the HSE report, after self neglect, psychological abuse was the most common type of abuse reported, accounting for more than one in three cases. This was followed by financial abuse, including theft, fraud, exploitation and pressure in connection with wills, property and inheritance. Two thirds of alleged victims in 2011 were women and there was a higher referral rate among the over-80s.
Ms. Connolly added “If you suspect an ageing family member, neighbour or friend is the victim of abuse, there are certain steps you can take and we would encourage all to do the following;
· Listen to seniors and their caregivers to make sure they are being cared for appropriately.
· Report suspected elder abuse to your local HSE office or An Garda Siochana.
· Visit ageing loved ones as often as possible so the older person sees you as someone they could trust and talk to about any difficulties they may have.
Home Instead Senior Care advises anybody who is concerned that an elderly person in the community is at risk of abuse to contact the HSE Information Line on 1850 24 1850 or the Waterford Home Instead office directly on 051 333966.
Home Instead Senior Care was established in Ireland in 2005 to bring practical, cost effective and above all, kind and compassionate non-medical care to elderly and disabled people who wish to remain living in their own homes.
For more information on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th, call Home Instead Senior Care on 051 333966 or visit www.homeinstead.ie