“Increase in elder abuse should result in immediate action”
ALONE calls for introduction of national adult safeguarding legislation on Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2022
Dublin, 14th June 2022 ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, is highlighting the need for the introduction of national adult safeguarding legislation this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which takes place tomorrow, 15th June.
Figures recently released to Deputy Fergus O’Dowd 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 3,412 in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ALONE noted that many older people experienced a loss of independence due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, and had to resort to relying on others for support and assistance in their day-to-day lives, leaving them more at risk of abuse. This is a silent abuse as a call for help is hard to make.
The organisation is calling attention to the fact that despite the increase in elder abuse, national adult safeguarding legislation has still not been introduced. An Adult Safeguarding Bill introduced in the Seanad in 2017 has not made further progress. The purposes of the Adult Safeguarding Bill 2017 include making further and better provision for the care and protection of adults who are at risk; to establish the National Adult Safeguarding Authority; to require certain persons to make reports to the National Adult Safeguarding Authority in respect of adults at risk of abuse or harm in certain circumstances; and to provide for related matters.
Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, says of the issue, “Elder abuse manifests itself in many forms. It may be physical, psychological, emotional, financial, sexual, discrimination, or neglect. It may be controlling an older person’s pension, overcharging them for odd jobs or making them feel like a burden.”
“Elder abuse is an insidious form of abuse that often goes quietly unseen and it is not talked about enough in today’s society. Older people with health, financial, and other difficulties can be particularly at risk. Unfortunately, in many cases, elder abuse is carried out by people we already know and believe we can trust,” he continued.
“Adult safeguarding legislation has been stalled in the Seanad for several years. We have now seen the reporting of elder abuse cases increase. This World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we are calling for immediate action to be taken to get this legislation in place.”
ALONE is supporting the HSE National Safeguarding Office campaign for World Elder Abuse Day, ‘Rights Don’t Get Old’.
Many cases of elder abuse go unreported and it can often be a hidden issue. Abuse of older people is often carried out by a carer or family member that the older person relies upon and, as a result, the abused individual is often fearful of speaking out and losing their source of contact, help or support. Older people who have no support within their community, without friends, neighbours or family to turn to, are more than four times more likely to suffer abuse than those with high levels of community support.
Moynihan concluded, “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.”
The HSE has Safeguarding and Protection Teams in place in every region of the country, which are responsible for adult safeguarding within services for older persons and services for people with disabilities.
Older people can also access support through their local health centre, GP, Public Health Nurse, or the Garda Síochána. 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.
In the coming weeks, the Vodafone Foundation, in partnership with ALONE and Active Retirement Ireland, will release a banking module as part of their HiDigital online platform for older people. The new module will support older people to become more independent with their banking.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day takes place on 15th of June every year and was first established by the United Nations in an effort to raise public awareness about elder abuse in its many forms.
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.