New centre to study elder abuse

Abuse of the elderly in Ireland will come under the spotlight at a new national research centre launched today.

The UCD-based facility will bring together experts from nursing, medicine, economics and social science to investigate the extent of the problem.

Health Minister Mary Harney insisted progress had been made tackling such abuse but added the new National Research Centre for the Protection of Older People (NRCPOP) will build on that.

“While there is more work to be done in this area, we have a good foundation in place from which the service can be developed further,” she said.

One of the first tasks for the centre will be to calculate the exact scale of elderly abuse in Ireland.

There are no scientific statistics available yet, but UCD said international research – showing between 1% and 4% of over-65s are affected – would mean between 5,000 and 21,000 older Irish people are being abused.

Family members are the most common perpetrators and victims are mainly older women or older people unable to care for themselves.

Dr Jonathan Drennan, co-director of the NRCPOP, said the abuse comes in many forms, including psychological, physical, financial, neglect as well as sexual abuse.

“There is a lack understanding as to what actually constitutes elder abuse but this is an issue which affects each and every one of us, either directly or indirectly, through our family, our friends and our local community,” he said.

“We need to identify how, when and where elder abuse takes place. We need to offer older people a voice to be heard and we must introduce standards and interventions to prevent this form of abuse.”


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