An estimated 10,000 people aged 65 and over experience abuse.
Speaking following a briefing on elder abuse, hosted by Fine Gael’s Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, the Dun Laoghaire Deputy said that we must lift the veil of secrecy around elder abuse and empower older people to speak out about any mistreatment they are receiving.
“Elder abuse is generally not widely reported which is due, in part, to the fear felt by older people of the repercussions that would follow. A report by Age Action in 2011 highlighted that elder abusers are often family members and that older people often fear being put in a nursing home if they speak out.
“Elder abuse comes in many forms, be it physical, mental, emotional or more commonly financial. 2012 is the European Year of Positive Ageing and Inter-generational Solidarity, presenting a golden opportunity to take a stand on this disturbing issue.
“In 2010 the first Irish prevalence study on elder abuse was carried out by The National Centre for the Protection of Older People in UCD. It found that approximately 2.2% of people aged 65 years and over experience elder abuse, equating to 10,200 people.
“A formal dedicated service to investigate and support those involved in incidents of elder abuse is already in place in Ireland but unfortunately its existence is not widely known.
“If we are to deal effectively with this issue, it is vital that we open up discussions about it and encourage older people not to tolerate it. We, as a society, need to be vigilant to the signs of abuse and must be forthcoming in reporting our suspicions.
“The HSE elder abuse service is to be the main provider of elder abuse training for all agencies providing services for older people. Between 2007 and 2010 there have been more than 25,000 people trained in elder abuse, with an increase of almost 50% in the numbers receiving training between 2007 (4184 people trained) and 2010 (8126 people trained)
“We have made great strides in the area of child abuse. We must now apply the lessons we have learnt to address issues where our elders are concerned.
“I am very grateful to Emer Begley and Robin Webster of Age Action for addressing the briefing today and look forward to continuing to work with this and other agencies in the future to help stamp out elder abuse once and for all so older people are treated with the dignity they deserve.