Elderly are most likely to be abused by their children
SONS and daughters are the main offenders when it comes to abuse of the elderly, according to the latest figures.
Children accounted for 45pc of reported cases of abuse to the HSE up to the end of September this year.
Other relatives, including partners, husbands and wives, made up another 17pc of abusers, while care staff were the culprits in a further 8pc of reports.
The HSE said it received 1,511 referrals to the end of September and expected the end-of-year figure to be broadly in line with last year's toll of 2,000 cases.
However, it is acknowledged that this is only a fraction of the real problem and that up to 25,000 older people may be suffering, many in silence.
A breakdown of the kinds of abuse reported this year shows that 11.2pc was physical abuse and 30.2pc was psychological bullying.
Financial abuse accounted for 19.4pc and neglect for 16.1pc.The biggest rise so far this year has been in the Dublin north and north-east regions.
The HSE said research on elder abuse in Ireland, carried out by the National Centre for the Protection of Older People, found that 2.2pc of older people suffered elder abuse in a twelve-month period.
It said: "This would indicate that the number of older people who have experienced mistreatment is significantly greater than the number of referrals reported to the HSE."
A spokeswoman said all referrals of alleged elder abuse to the HSE were treated in confidence and, as much as possible, handled in a way that respected the wishes of the older person.
"The aim of the HSE service is to ensure the safety and well-being of an older person while providing support to stop the abusive behaviour.
"Anyone who is being abused, or who is concerned about abuse, should talk to someone they trust or they can contact the HSE information line on 1850 24 1850 Monday to Saturday, 8am-8pm or contact a health professional."
Various campaigns have brought the issue of elder abuse into the public domain and alerted professionals and community groups to the potential for abuse.