Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thousands of elderly suffering as abuse toll doubles in Ireland

The Irish Independent newspaper published an article that was written by their Health Correspondent Eilish O'Regan about the growing incidents of elder abuse in Ireland.

I have decided to blog on this issue because in Canada and many other nations, their is a growing recognition that elder abuse has become a terrible cultural problem.

The article stated:
THE number of reported incidents of elder abuse doubled last year -- and in most cases the culprit is a member of their own family, a damning new report reveals.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) last night confirmed it received 1,840 reports of alleged or suspected abuse of elderly last year, compared to 927 in 2007.

The report uncovered the hidden torment of many older people who are physically abused in some cases, frequently by the person that is closest to them.

However, the reported cases are just the tip of the iceberg. Experts believe between 12,000 to 20,000 older people are suffering mistreatment in the community.

What should be really concerning to people who read this article is that the article states:
In the majority of cases the culprit was a spouse, son, daughter or partner and two-thirds of victims were women.

The article does suggest that the increased incidence is partially due to an increase in reporting, nonetheless the societal growth of elder abuse must be taken more seriously. The article states:
The rise is partly due to the appointment of elder abuse officers by the HSE around the country and also a greater awareness of the issue.

Prof Des O'Neill, who is chair of the National Implementation Group on Elder Abuse and author of the Leas Cross report, last night said he welcomed the evidence that more of these cases are now being brought to light.

"It is encouraging and a national database is now in place giving more information," he added.

But he said the implementation group -- set up by the Department of Health to act as watchdog to progress safeguards for the elderly -- was still not getting enough support from banks, the Financial Regulator or the Department of Finance.

My involvement in end-of-life issues helps me to raise a red-flag of concern related to how we treat people who are more vulnerable in society.

For those who suggest that assisted suicide is the answer to end-of-life issues, just consider that rising incidence of elder abuse and the reality that death can become the ultimate elder abuse.

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