HSE records over 2,400 complaints of elder abuse in 2013

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More than 2,400 complaints of elder abuse were received by health chiefs last year – a 30% increase in six years.

The Health Service Executive said its hotlines saw a 1% fall in the number of reports compared with 2012 but warned of a deepening crisis since records began in 2008.

Older people are most likely to suffer psychological abuse, its report stated, with 33% of all complaints related to emotional bullying, intimidation or harassment.

Health chiefs said most abuse is perpetrated by a family member, a son or daughter as in 45% of complaints, while one fifth involved a partner, husband or wife and 15% were linked to other relatives.

Just over a quarter of complaints related to financial abuse, 21% to neglect and 14% to physical abuse.

The HSE’s sixth review of referrals of alleged abuse of older people recorded 2,437 cases but more than 500 of these related to self-neglect.

Frank Murphy, chair of the national elder abuse steering committee, urged people with concerns about loved ones or people they are caring for to contact health professionals.

“There is strong documentary evidence that a certain proportion of older people are at risk of being abused and it is vital that older people are protected from harm in both the community and in residential settings,” he said.

“We would encourage anyone who has a concern about abuse of an older person to contact their GP, public health nurse or any healthcare worker.”

The HSE said most referrals of suspected abuse come from public health nurses, with hospital staff and family the other major sources.

The report also revealed that two thirds of the alleged victims were women and there was a higher referral rate among the over 80 age group compared to 65-79-year-olds.

Men in the 65-74 age bracket are more likely to be referred while 55% of females referred are in the over 80 age category, it said.

The HSE warned that elder abuse – described as a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, causing harm or distress or violating their rights - can take place in any context.

It said it may occur when people live alone, in care homes, hospitals, home support services or when they are in public.

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