A study into elder abuse by the National Council for Ageing and Older People estimated that as many as 12,000 older Irish people might be suffering from some form of abuse at any given time. The report, ‘Abuse, neglect and mistreatment of older People’ found that the reluctance of society to recognise the problem of elder abuse is merely following a pattern of how such abuses come to be accepted.

Dr Des O’Neill is a consultant geriatric physician at Tallaght Hospital who leads the national Age-Related Healthcare Project. He is also a member of the Department of Health’s working group on the issue of elder abuse. He believes that incidents of elder abuse are both under-reported and under-acknowledged in this country.

“There has been almost no research into elder abuse in Ireland, but we have no reason to think that the extent of the problem here is any different to anywhere else”, he explains. “Research elsewhere has shown that between 3% and 5% of older people experience regular abuse in some form”.

– Jim Clarke – IrishHealth.com

What is Elder Abuse?

”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 or violates their human and civil rights.” (Protecting our Future, Report of the Working Group on Elder Abuse, September 2002) – HSE.ie

65 years of age is taken as the point beyond which abuse may be considered to be elder abuse.

Forms of Elder Abuse 

There are several forms of abuse, any or all of which may be carried out as the result of deliberate intent, negligence or ignorance. (HSE.ie)

  • Psychological abuse
  • Neglect and acts of omission
  • Financial or material abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Discrimination

Signs and Symptoms

According to the National Council for Aging Care, the symptoms of abuse vary with the form of abuse, but things to look out for include:

  • Unusual or unexplained injuries, such as cuts, bruises or burns, for which strange and inconsistent explanations are given
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Pressure or bed sores
  • Evidence of confinement, such as being tied to furniture or locked in a room
  • Dehydration or malnutrition without a medical cause
  • Fear, withdrawal, depression, or anxiety
  • Visits to many doctors or hospitals
  • Helplessness
  • A hesitation to talk openly

Detailed signs of each form of abuse can be found on the HSE website HERE.

Reporting Elder Abuse

If you are a victim of Elder Abuse, are concerned about abuse, or if you suspect someone you know may be a victim of abuse, you should contact the HSE elder abuse service, through your GP, Public Health Nurse, local Health Centre or any of your local Senior Case Worker or An Garda Siochana.

The HSE has a dedicated Elder Abuse Service, with Senior Case Workers in Elder Abuse now working in most Local Health Office Areas. Click for a list of Senior Case Workers and their contact details.

HSE National Safeguarding Office

Call: 1850 24 1850 Monday to Saturday 8am to 8pm
Website: www.hse.ie/elderabuse
Email: [email protected]

Useful Links and References

Booklet from Age Action: Financial Elder Abuse – What to Watch For

HSE: https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/4/olderpeople/elderabuse/

IrishHealth.com: www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=1903

HumanRights.ie: https://humanrights.ie/economic-rights/the-law-and-elder-abuse-in-ireland/

Identity Theft: https://www.comparitech.com/blog/information-security/stealing-grandpas-identity-the-perfect-crime/