Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is an act, either single or repeated, or lack of appropriate action that occurs within a relationship where trust is expected by both parties and causes harm to an older adult. It is also a violation of civil and human rights. Cases of alleged elder abuse are on the rise in Ireland. According to reports, in 2017, there was a 30% increase in the number of old people who were mistreated or harassed including those living with disabilities. With only 12% of them revolving around physical abuse, 88% of these actions are about psychological and financial abuse. Here are some of the various ways in which the older adults in Ireland can be abused.

Types of Elder Abuse

Older people in Ireland are prone to many types of elder abuse. They can occur in different ways and bring about varying ramifications.

Psychological/Emotional Abuse

Research shows that this is the major way in which older people past 65 years old are abused. When an individual emotionally abuses an older adult, they inflict pain and distress through verbal or sometimes non-verbal means. They can do this by insulting, threatening, intimidating or humiliating them. They can also give them the ‘silent treatment,’ thus, causing stress. More often than not, an old person undergoing abuse is treated like a kid and intentionally or unintentionally isolated from the people they love. How do you know that an older person is a victim of emotional abuse? They might be withdrawn or seem agitated. They might also exhibit symptoms of dementia.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse refers to the application of physical force on a senior, hence, causing them bodily harm or physical pain. It includes beating, pushing, shoving, slapping and burning the victims. Reports indicate that it is more common for people under the age of 65. Being at 46%, it is the most significant type of abuse for elderly people in Ireland. Signs of physical violence on a senior are broken bones, bruises, sprains, internal injuries, cuts that cannot be explained and skull fractures. When there is a change in their behavior or refusal to be in the company of a particular person alone, it can also show that they are physically abused.

Sexual Abuse

Elder sexual abuse occurs when one has non-consensual sex with an older adult. Sexual contact with an old person who is incapable of offering consent, due to illness, old age or any other reason, is also classified as sexual abuse in Ireland. Other forms of elder sexual abuse include sodomy, coerced nudity, uncalled for touching and taking naked pictures of the old person. To know whether or not an older person is sexually abused, watch out for bleeding from the vagina or anus, unexplained STDs and genital infections, bruises and marks on their breasts as well as genitals. They might also wear torn, stained or bloody underpants.

Financial Abuse

Financially abusing an older adult is illegally or improperly using their property or assets. In Ireland, the most common ways in which this is done is by forging their signatures, taking cash from them and blackmailing them into giving their property or money. 40% of the perpetrators, in this case, are children of the old person. One can also make them sign documents whose terms they do not comprehend. Taking advantage of a person’s role in their life to misuse their assets falls under this category of elder abuse. Sigs of financial exploitation of an elder are changes in important documents like wills, changes in bank account details and amounts, the presence of forged signatures on titles, abrupt transfer of assets to non-family members and the reappearance of ‘relatives’ claiming rights to the elderly person’s property.


Neglect of an old person is also a type of elder abuse in Ireland. It happens when they are not provided with the care they need to lead a comfortable life. Symptoms of neglect include dehydration and malnutrition, untreated health problems, lack of clean, running water, and unsanitary living conditions.

Most people fail to disclose elder abuse due to family ties, embarrassment, threats or fear of being a burden. In Ireland, these are some of the things that have led to an increase in such cases. Also, no legislation deals with such actions in the state. However, it is still essential that they are reported whenever they occur.

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