ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, is highlighting the need for the introduction of safeguarding legislation this Adult Safeguarding Day. ALONE has consistently worked with older people who can suffer from all sorts of abuse ranging from physical, mental, and financial abuse.
This Adult Safeguarding Day, it is important to reflect on the real-life experiences of those who have suffered abuse living at home as well as in institutional settings and the need to use these incidents to inform public policy to protect older people from abuse.
Figures released to Deputy Fergus O’Dowd earlier this year showed that almost 16,000 cases of elder abuse have been reported within Health Service Executive-funded services for older people over the past five years. ALONE has noted that a worrying, but not unexpected, increase in reported elder abuse concerns took place during the pandemic. The number of abuse concerns relating to over-65s increased from 3,029 in 2016 to a peak of 3,671 in 2021, according to the HSE’s own figures.
The calls received vary in nature, but a lot have central themes around housing whether its families who have no homes moving back into parents’ homes and taking financial advantage or issues with tradesmen taking liberties with older customers. One call quite recently was from a man whose family had moved back into his house and were not contributing to the costs causing him financial hardship at a time of life when he should be enjoying some comfort.
ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan commented that “We supported over 9,000 older people last year alone with various areas of support but the stories that our frontline volunteers, support coordinators and National Support and Referral Line workers report on the abuse of older people are thankfully not that frequent but still devastating to hear. We know that cases of abuse towards older people rose during the pandemic therefore it is crucial that as we move forward with legislation. We continue to raise awareness among the public and use the real-life cases that we come across to build a safer country for people to age in. Older people are among the most vulnerable to abuse, we are working hard with partners to help older people protect themselves from financial abuse, we also continue to provide coordinated support and help through our National Support and Referral Line.”
Moynihan concluded, “It can be hard to report abuse for older people who are very often relying on their abuser for day-to-day needs. We want to educate older people about their own rights and if they have any concerns, we and other organisations are available to offer them independent advice and support. If you are concerned about yourself or about an older person you know, call us on 0818 222 024 or email us at [email protected] If you have
immediate concerns about your safety or welfare or that of an older person in your life, please contact An Garda Síochána immediately.”
Older people can also access support through their local GP, Public Health Nurse, and HSE Safeguarding and Protection Teams. In cases of financial abuse older people can contact their bank for support through their dedicated telephone support services which deal with cases of financial abuse.
ALONE is encouraging older people who need advice to call ALONE on, 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. Contact ALONE on 0818 222 024 if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person you know. Further information can be found on www.alone.ie.
Adult Safeguarding Day takes place on Friday November 11, 2022.
The event is an initiative of Safeguarding Ireland – and supported by the HSE – in partnership with a wide reach of organisations across the health, social, financial and justice sectors.
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