Elderly parents are being forced to take out protection orders against their adult children as they return to the family home, according to a campaign group.
Age Action revealed the worrying development as two shocking cases emerged in court.
The charity also said that the incidences of elder abuse by children seems to be increasing since the recession but it is difficult to know how often it happens because not all cases end up in the justice system.
Two cases came before Naas District Court last week when two mothers turned to the court to protect them from their abusive offspring.
In one case, a young man threatened to throw his mother down the stairs.
In another case, an elderly woman told the court that her adult daughter and her partner had physically destroyed her home several times.
CEO of Age Action Eamon Timmins said elder abuse appeared to be on the rise since the recession, yet it remained severely under-reported.
“The biggest issue we have is that older people put up with it,” he told The Herald. They do not want to go to court or to involve their children in the legal process, he said.
The issue of elderly people fighting back and going to the courts to protect themselves from their children was raised at a recent Age Action workshop in Bray, Co Wicklow.
“It’s good that people are taking out protection orders,” Mr Timmins said.
“Obviously having orders is an option for them.”
Physical abuse of an elderly parent is increasingly being perpetrated by adult children – predominantly men – who typically have been thrown out of their own homes by their partners according to Mr Timmins.
When they return to the family home to live with their parents, they abuse the very people who are there to support them, he said.
In other cases, adult children who have lost their homes due to unemployment or other factors will also turn on their parents once they return home, he said. Sadly, such cases are much more commonplace than people realise, he added.
“What is seen before the court is really just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
“Gardai are only involved in a tiny minority of cases.”
“Older people often never see the inside of a courtroom and have a fear of getting people from outside the home involved,” he said.