Skip links

Elder Abuse

Wednesday 15 th June 2022 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day as designated by the United Nations. This year the theme is ‘Access to Justice’;. It highlights the importance of assessing the needs of older people who may need to seek redress.
In the UK, Elder Abuse is defined as “a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation or trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”  It is estimated that at least 10% of adults aged over 65 will experience some form of abuse in any year. Hourglass, formerly known as Action on Elder Abuse, suggest that one in five people in the UK over the age of 65 have been abused which is 2.7 million victims in the UK. These disturbing figures were the result of polling which indicate that the crime has been previously under reported.
The most common type of abuse is neglect which includes not giving an individual with food or water or not taking care of their personal hygiene if they are unable to do this for themselves. Financial abuse is the most difficult to prove as there are usually no witnesses involved. To complicate matters, the abuser often controls bank accounts and receipts.
As highlighted by Hourglass, older adults are often vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Legislation such as “The Elder Justice Act” aims to protect older adults.
Often an older person may not appreciate that they are being taken advantage of and may not wish to report it especially if the abuser is a family member. Confusion due to dementia may increase an individual’s vulnerability. Evidence is emerging that during the Covid 19 Pandemic incidences of Elder Abuse have increased. Dame Vera Baird QC the Victims’ Commissioner has highlighted that lockdown has been “downright dangerous” for many.
The World Health Organisation has a Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health and have designated the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing 2021-2030.
WHO and partners are collaborating to prevent elder abuse through initiatives to identify and respond to the issue.
The shocking fact is that the majority of people do not consider themselves as abusers: taking money from an elder’s bank account or pushing or beating them is not abuse. Abusers are part of the problem and we need to change attitudes and raise awareness.
Please take a little time to research the subject so that we become enlightened.
Knowledge is Power. Power gives the ability to create Change. Anyone could ultimately become a victim of elder abuse. As Goldie Hawn quipped “Getting older is a fact of life.”

Elder Abuse Awareness Week IDAS

This Elder Abuse Awareness Week, we are raising awareness of this type of abuse and how it impacts older people in different ways.
Elder abuse can occur between a couple who have been in a relationship for many years. In some cases, the abuse is rooted in outdated traditional views that subjugate women. Abuse between an elderly couple that has gone on for many years is known as Abuse grown old: abuse through the years​
Whilst it remains a prevalent type of abuse, there are many other types of abuse perpetrated against older people, including those who are LGBT+ ; Late onset abuse can occur in an existing relationship where behaviour has gradually escalated over time, with the onset of domestic abuse occurring in later life.
Increasingly, we are supporting older people abused by their children or their grandchildren. A significant number of older people known to have been subject to domestic abuse are also disabled, relying to a greater or lesser extent on their family, a loved one, or a carer for care and help around the home.
Some older people may be targeted in a new relationship, following the death or loss of a previous partner, and may be subject to economic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour. 
Economic, or financial abuse, can be hard to spot as older people’s capacity to manage their finances can be manipulated by the abuser to their own ends. It might start with putting a mail order catalogue in their name and running up debts and escalate to taking control of their bank cards or even transferring their assets.​

25% of older people who have been subjected to domestic abuse, and are visible to services, have experienced the abuse for 20 years or more.

The global pandemic has increased isolation for older people and given perpetrators more control.

Image by Bruno Aguirre