Up to 10,000 elderly are abused in own homes across country
Published 09/11/2010 | 05:00
THOUSANDS of older people have been abused or neglected in their own homes in the past year -- but only a minority reported details of their private hell, a report has revealed.
Up to 10,000 elderly people suffered ill-treatment and the main form of abuse was linked to money and property.
Other abuse was psychological such as verbal insults; being deprived of seeing grandchildren; being undermined; or being threatened verbally.
Physical abuse is also a serious problem with elderly people revealing they have been pushed; threatened; hit with an object; kicked; or denied access to a walking stick or hearing aid.
Some of the older people reported being restrained and a minority also suffered sexual abuse, the shocking study -- led by Dr Corina Naughton, from the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems -- revealed.
The most frequent perpetrator is an adult child followed by other relatives and a spouse or partner. Adult children were most likely to be guilty of financial abuse of a parent while spouses and partners tended to engage more in psychological abuse.
The researchers, who interviewed 1,201 older people with an average age of 74 earlier this year, said if findings were applied nationally it would mean 10,000 older people are being mistreated in their homes.
The report said the rate of elder abuse runs at about 2.2pc -- similar to the rate in the UK. If mistreatment by neighbours and acquaintances is included the rate increases to 2.9pc.
"Although the majority of older people do not experience mistreatment by people close to them, the risk factors for elder abuse and neglect are likely to increase as the population ages, and as a greater number of older people depend on formal and informal support," Dr Naughton said.
There are about half a million over-65s in Ireland and experts estimate that by 2061 the number could reach 1.8 million.
The highest levels of mistreatment (3.4pc) occurred in inter-generational households or homes with a mix of people where the older person shared the house with an adult child and their family or other relatives.
Older people living alone or with a spouse or partner are less likely to face abuse and neglect.
Particular risk factors are living with the perpetrator and the perpetrator being unemployed or abusing alcohol. Only one third disclosed their abuse to a family member and just 9pc of these went to gardai.
Higher levels of mistreatment were reported by people with lower education. People living on less than €220 a week reported the highest level of abuse and it was less likely in higher income groups.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Junior Health Minister Aine Brady said: "Until now we could only assume that the prevalence of elder abuse was not unlike that in other developed countries. But this report gives us more precise data to work with."
She called on anyone with concerns to report anxieties to a HSE social worker, a public health nurse, a GP, a member of the gardai, or in the case of financial abuse, a solicitor or bank official.