World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is on June 15 and Cork Kerry Community Healthcare is asking everyone to check in on older people they know, listen to them and if they have concerns and need support – help them to access it.
This is the 17th year of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The theme for 2023 is ‘Hear Me, Support Me, Challenge Elder Abuse‘ and is a call to address elder abuse in a way that respects the autonomy and empowerment of older people in Ireland, whilst being in line with human rights principles such as the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015.
In 2022, there were 341 concerns of elder abuse reported to the Cork Kerry Safeguarding and Protection Team. The primary concern raised was around psychological abuse, with 83 concerns reported; 38 concerns were reported around physical and psychological abuse combined, 56 around psychological and financial abuse and 19 around psychological abuse, combined with neglect.
Cork Kerry Community Healthcare are marking the day with a number of key events and have linked in with Cork City Council and Kerry County Council; who have agreed that Cork City Hall, Killarney Town Hall, Ashe Memorial Hall Tralee, Tralee Princes Quay and County Buildings Tralee will raise awareness by lighting up their buildings purple, the colour associated with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
The Safeguarding team are promoting awareness on the day by visiting community hospitals and older persons’ residential and day services across Cork and Kerry. The team are also hosting a lunchtime webinar in conjunction with Alone and Sage Advocacy. The objective of the webinar is to support services in recognising, recording, reporting and responding to concerns of abuse.
Miriam Tobin, Principal Social Worker with Cork Kerry Community Healthcare Safeguarding and Protection team said:
“Everyone has a right to live a life free of abuse. The most common issue we are told about is the older person’s wishes not being considered or ‘not being listened to’. Stop, take the time to listen properly and do what you can to help our elders live out their best lives, in safety and comfort.
There are many forms of elder abuse, often unknowingly perpetrated by those thinking that they have the older person’s best interests at heart. For example, collecting Granny’s pension for her and allocating her spending money, so it’s not frittered away. That’s wrong, that’s financial abuse, people have a right to choose to spend their money how they want. We work with all persons over 65 years who raise concerns of abuse; this could be your parent, a sibling, or friend that needs support.”
Abuse can take many forms in our daily lives, for example:
- “They put on my bed clothes at 5pm, so I am ready for bed, then they leave. I have told them it is too early but they are busy and I don’t want to be delaying them.”
- “When he is after a few drinks he shouts at me, but he has never laid a finger on me. He has had a tough life.”
- “I’m afraid I won’t see my grandchildren if I don’t agree with what they tell me to do.”
- “I have to lock the bedroom door in case he wanders when I go out, I pop back and check on him during the day.”
Other forms of elder abuse include:
Physical abuse: Giving the older person a push or a shove, not managing their medication correctly, or locking the older person in house/bedroom.
Neglect: Ignoring the older person’s medical or physical care needs, not bringing them to the doctor or appointment as required, not allowing older person access to services they require such as home help, or day centres.
Emotional abuse: Threats of harm, threats of putting the older person in a home, controlling the older person, verbal abuse and shouting.
Sexual abuse: Any sexual act the older person does not consent to, or expressly give their permission for.
Safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility. We are asking people to watch out for any signs of elder abuse and know how and when to report it to a professional, or service known to you. You can contact the Cork Kerry Safeguarding team on 021 492 7550 between 9am-1pm and 2pm-4pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]
For further information, see www.hse.ie/safeguarding or contact the HSE helpline 1800 700 700.