51 percent of the 18,000 abused were abused by their own children

The Irish National Study of Elder Abuse and Neglect has found that 18,000 older people have experienced some degree of abuse or neglect after the age of 65. The study was focused directly on the prevalence of elder abuse.

The report found that 10,000 people aged 65 or over had experienced some kind of abuse over the past 12 months. Their adults children were the most likely perpetrators.

Those carrying out the study, at the University College Dublin National Centre for the Protection of older people, interviewed 2,021 people.

They found that financial abuse was the most common. This was experienced by 1.3 percent of those interviewed. They found that 1.2 percent of respondents had suffered psychological abuse, 0.5 percent physical abuse and 0.3 percent neglect. Least common was sexual abuse suffered by 0.05 percent.

Most likely to experience abuse were those aged between 70 and 79. Women of this age were most likely to be abused. However, those over 80 were twice as likely to experience abuse and it was equal amongst men and women.

Those on the lower socio-economic level reported the highest level of mistreatment. Also an increased level of abuse and neglect were related to a decline in health.

Fifty percent of those interviewed identified an adult child as the perpetrator. One quarter identified other relatives and one in five were abused by their partner or spouse.

Of the perpetrators 51 percent were unemployed, 19 percent abused alcohol and in 37 percent of cases the elderly person lived with the perpetrator.

Lead researcher Dr Corina Naughton “One of the most important steps in preventing elder abuse is increased awareness among older people themselves, their families and the wider public.

“The responsibility for tackling elder abuse and neglect is shared across the whole of society; we all have a right to expect a safe and secure future in older age.”