Hertfordshire Safeguarding Adults Board highlights alarming increase in elder abuse on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Safeguarding is everyone’s business if you see something, say something.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 11:47 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 11:48 am

Hertfordshire Safeguarding Adults Board is focusing on protecting older people in the community during Covid-19 pandemic and beyond as national statistics show an alarming rise in abuse of older people.

Today (June 15), marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), and national charity Hourglass has warned that abuse of older people is at ‘unprecedented levels’ as new data shows that nearly 2.7 million UK citizens over the age of 65 are thought to have been abused.

The Growing old in the UK 2020 survey - commissioned by the charity - of over 2,500 adults found that 1 in 5 (22 per cent) people either had personal experience of abuse as an older person (aged 65+) or knew an older person who had been abused, and 53 per cent of people in the UK felt that the abuse and neglect of older people had increased as a result of pandemic and associated restrictions.

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Previous estimates have put the figure significantly lower, with the World Health Organisation estimating that – globally – 1 in 6 people aged 60 and older experienced some form of abuse in the last year.

Older people can fall victim of abuse in many ways, both men and women can be at risk of being abused, and this can happen anywhere.

Older people can be targeted because of a number of factors. Sometimes isolation, care needs and being more trusting can lead to abuse or neglect, often by those close to older person.

Abuse can happen in many ways, the more common types of abuse older people can suffer, include physical, psychological, financial and neglect.

Abuse or neglect can happen in someone’s home or that of their carer, a day centre, a residential or nursing home, a hospital, or in the public place.

Some instances of abuse are intended to exploit the elderly person financially such as scams and fraud.

For many older victims, abuse may become normalised and accepted, which can create barriers to getting help and support.

The Hertfordshire Safeguarding Adults Board (HSAB) is a statutory sector partnership which has a key role in supporting and challenging all organisations who have responsibility for safeguarding adults in Hertfordshire.

The Board brings the organisations and communities together to create a safer Hertfordshire, where all adults at risk can live, work and are cared for free from abuse, violence or aggression.

Elizabeth Hanlon, independent chair of the HSAB, said: “Often, those who abuse older people are exploiting a relationship.

"They may be someone the victim trusts, this may be because of a family relationship, a friendship, a carer that may be paid or unpaid or someone that is in a position of trust.

"However, abuse is not always intentional. It can be because someone lacks the skills or support to properly and safely care for another person.

"That’s why it’s so important that people report abuse, so we can provide help and support to everyone involved.”

Social isolation and loneliness have increased during the pandemic potentially contributing to abuse and neglect going unreported. There is evidence that social isolation increases the likelihood of abuse.

Many older people spend long periods at home alone under normal circumstances but those who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 are once again taking precautions and may avoid going out.

It is more important than ever that everyone should be aware of the role they can play in helping to prevent abuse. We should all know how to spot the signs of abuse and neglect, and the actions we should take.

Safeguarding is everyone’s business if you see something, say something. Don’t let abuse and neglect go on.

You can report a concern online or by calling Adult Care Services on 0300 123 40 42. In an emergency always call 999.

For support and advice for older people visit Age UK Dacorum or call 0300 345 3446.