New data shows ‘unprecedented levels’ of abuse of older people

The 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.

Tuesday June 15 marked World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the national charity Hourglass has warned abuse of older people is at “unprecedented levels”, with new data showing 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 more than 2,500 adults found that 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.

Fifty-three per cent of people in the UK felt abuse and neglect of older people had increased as a result of pandemic and associated restrictions.

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

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.

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

Elizabeth Hanlon, independent chairman of the board, 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.”

Hertfordshire County Council says it is “more important than ever” that everyone should be aware of the role they can play in helping to prevent abuse, adding we should all know how to spot the signs of abuse and neglect, and the actions we should take.

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

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

Watford Observer | What’s On

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