The hidden issue of elder abuse is being highlighted in time for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15.
Often people are unaware of how many elder people are living with domestic abuse and may not spot the signs that someone is suffering. Elder abuse is hard to identify because, like child abuse, it often happens “behind closed doors”. In 2014, an independent Comic Relief study estimated that more than 500,000 older people are abused across the UK each year.
Many older people are able to be independent and happy in their relationships but others may have lived with years of abuse or be isolated or dependent on the person who is abusing them. Someone they are trying to take care of may also be abusing them physically or emotionally.
Karen Evans, of the North East Hampshire Domestic Abuse Forum, said: “Until fairly recently, this issue was relatively hidden and even today, elder abuse continues to be a taboo, mostly underestimated, both locally and across the world. Now, evidence is indicating that elder abuse is an important public health and societal problem, which needs to be addressed.
“Elder abuse can be defined as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person”. Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual and financial abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect. The abuse can be perpetrated by a partner or other family member such as a child, or grandchild and includes financial abuse.”
An important first step, if abuse is taking place, is finding someone to confide in. This could be a GP, nurse, social worker, police officer, neighbour, friend, relative or befriending service or social group.
Help is available from the following agencies: Action on Elder Abuse helpline on 080 8808 8141 Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm, Adult Services on 03005551386, Hampshire Constabulary safeguarding team on 101, or 999 in an emergency.