Press Release

Minister Áine Brady welcomes focus on society’s collective efforts to address elder abuse

Ms Áine Brady TD, Minister for Older People and Health Promotion, today (Friday, 26th June) commended Age Action Ireland and the Social Policy and Ageing Research Centre, Trinity College for providing a forum for people to consider society’s collective responsibility to address elder abuse. Opening the seminar on Protecting Older Adults: Interweaving Responses to Elder Abuse in Harold’s Cross, the Minister went on to say that Elder Abuse is a complex issue: it may take the form of psychological abuse, neglect, financial abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or a combination of these. The Minister stated that an analysis of the referrals in 2008 to the Health Service Executive (HSE) show that “psychological abuse is the most common form reported (26%), followed by neglect (19%), financial abuse (16%) and physical abuse (14%).”

The data also confirms earlier trends that most cases of reported elder abuse are perpetrated by close family members, with family relatives cited in nearly three out of every four cases referred. The Minister added that “it is a key concern that the predominant alleged persons causing anxiety are those that have the closest relationship to the person”. These findings are in keeping with experience elsewhere as is the finding that in a significant number of cases the persons causing concern are likely to have mental, substance abuse or behavioural problems.

The HSE has made significant advances in developing a comprehensive response for dealing with elder abuse. The Minister said “I would particularly like to commend the Health Service Executive which has made considerable progress in developing the appropriate structures and mechanisms for tackling and preventing elder abuse in a consistent manner throughout the country”.

The HSE ran its first public awareness campaign on elder abuse in 2008/2009, raising awareness of all types of abuse and of financial abuse in particular. There is a variety of supports available and anyone who has concerns may report their anxieties to a public health nurse, a member of the Garda Síochána, any professional or care worker or their bank or solicitor.

The Minister concluded by re-iterating the Government’s commitment to tackle elder abuse. The current policy framework, Protecting our Future … Report of the Working Group on Elder Abuse, is being reviewed. The results of the Review, due to be completed shortly, will give critical information on how the current system works and will inform future steps to be taken to address elder abuse.