Thousands Of Elderly Abused In Own Homes

Hundreds of thousands of elderly people are being subjected to appalling abuse in their own homes, according to a report today.

The UK Study of Abuse and Neglect, funded by Comic Relief and supported by the Government, is the most significant investigation for more than a decade into abuse of the elderly. It unveils physical – as well as verbal, mental and financial – abuse, and horrific cases of neglect.

It is understood that some of the allegations are so serious that ministers will announce an immediate overhaul of the adult protection system. Ivan Lewis, the minister responsible for care, said: “We need to have a fresh look at the whole adult protection regime in this country.”

Campaigners say the abuse figures, concerning the over-65s, are all the more alarming because they exclude care home residents and people suffering from dementia who live in the community.

Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow, chairman of the all-party group on older people, said he would launch a Bill to create statutory protection for vulnerable older people.

It would confer powers on local authorities to include a duty to investigate where abuse is believed to be taking place. For years, child abuse has been at the forefront of the public agenda while elderly abuse has remained largely unreported.

Yet studies have shown that abuse of the elderly is widespread, with as many as one in eight people affected by it.

Action on Elder Abuse said greedy middle-aged sons and daughters were the people most likely to rob their parents of money, valuables and even their homes.

Help The Aged said as many as 500,000 elderly people may be neglected and abused by carers or relatives. There are five types of elder abuse, it said: psychological, physical, financial, sexual and neglect.

The vast majority of those who are abused are over the age of 70, and two-thirds of abuse is committed at home by someone in a position of trust.

Action on Elder Abuse is calling on the Government to give adult protection the same legal status as that enjoyed by children.