An information booklet on Elder Abuse

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1 arassment Violence Discrimination Abandonment Neglect Abandonment Violence Assault tment Exploitation Fraud Assault ion Intimidation Discrimination Intimidation Isolation Harassment Discrimination Fraud Ageism Fraud Violence Neglect Fraud Assault Mistreatment Exploitation An information booklet on Elder Abuse Isol Discrim Viole Ass Mistreatment Abando Intim

2 The vast majority of older people live full and active lives, enjoying good health, happiness and independence. Most older people play a valuable role in their communities and in society generally. This is a cause for celebration. However, a small number of older people may experience mistreatment, neglect or abuse, and they may also experience more than one form of abuse at any given time.

3 Elder Abuse a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person or violates their human and civil rights. Protecting Our Future, Report of the Working Group on Elder Abuse 3

4 Types of Elder Abuse There are several forms of abuse, any or all of which may be perpetrated as the result of deliberate intent, negligence or ignorance. n Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, or inappropriate restraint n Financial or material abuse includes theft, fraud or exploitation; pressure in connection with wills, power of attorney, property, inheritance or financial transactions; or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits n Psychological abuse includes emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, intimidation or coercion n Neglect and acts of omission include ignoring medical or physical care needs; failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services; the withholding of medication, adequate nutrition or heating n Sexual abuse includes sexual assault or sexual acts to which an older person has not consented n Discriminatory abuse includes ageism, racism, sexism, that based on a person s disability, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment 4

5 Who might abuse? Any person or organisation may be guilty of abuse. Most often it is someone well known to the older person, for example, a family member, relative, friend or care provider a relationship where there is an expectation of trust. In some cases, organisations, through poor work practices or a lack of appropriate training for staff in dealing and interacting with and understanding older people, can unwittingly allow abuse to happen. Advantage may also be taken of the older person by unscrupulous individuals, such as bogus traders and callers. Where can abuse happen? Abuse can take place anywhere: most abuse takes place in the home, whether the person is living alone or with family. It may also occur within residential, day-care, or hospital settings, other places assumed to be safe, or in a public place. Elder Abuse can happen to anyone. If it happens to you, remember, you are not alone and you are NOT at fault. You do not need to continue suffering abuse. 5

6 If you or someone you know is being abused, talk to n Someone you trust n Your health professional - your family doctor, public health nurse, HSE Social Worker (Senior Case Worker) or anyone at your local health centre n Your local Garda Station n The HSE Information Line on , Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm (they will give you details of HSE staff in your local area who can assist you) n Your bank or solicitor n General managers in your HSE Local Health Office n Nursing home owner or the nurse in charge If you are in contact with an older person, be vigilant. Look out for signs of abuse. If you suspect abuse, seek advice. The earlier you express your concerns, the sooner help can be provided and relationships supported. HSE Information Line Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm Website: 6

7 Speaking out about abuse and what happens when you do. If you think you are being abused or harmed in anyway, tell someone. If the person who is mistreating you is someone you trust, it can be especially hard to understand what is happening or why. You may feel worried, shocked, upset, scared or even embarrassed about the situation. This may make it hard for you to talk to someone about what is happening or to ask for help. If you have someone you can trust, talk to them. If not, there are people who can offer you help and advice. You do not have to feel alone in your situation. There are options open to you and you can make choices. If you think someone you know is being harmed or abused in any way, tell someone. You do not have to leave the person isolated in their situation you can get help and provide them with options and choices. HSE Elder Abuse Service The HSE treats concerns about elder abuse seriously and sensitively. Any reports of alleged abuse are dealt with in confidence and, as much as possible, will be handled in a way that respects the wishes and privacy of the older person. The overall aim of the service is to stop the unwanted behaviour and to ensure the older person s safety and well-being, while supporting or restoring relationships. After initial contact is made, a social worker will talk with you about the situation, your feelings and any fears that you might have. She or he will try and establish how and why the abuse is happening. Supports may be offered to stop the unwanted behaviour and ensure your safety. This might, for example, include any of the following. 7

8 n Counselling n Mediation or conflict resolution n Family meetings n Monitoring n Home support services n Day care or respite These services play an important role in helping those who suffer abuse and their families. The services are designed to help older people become more independent, particularly from their abusers. They offer older people options, keeping them connected to the community. The services can also help reduce the stress on care givers. Living in the Community The majority of older people live healthy, active lives within their communities. There are local and community based groups and associations to support and encourage older people to fully participate in society. However, at some time, an older person may experience mistreatment, neglect or abuse. Steps can be taken to minimise the risks. If you are an older person n Where possible, stay active within your community and keep in regular contact with family and friends n Maintain your independence. Familiarise yourself with the support services available and how to access them 8

9 n Look after your health. Take regular exercise, eat a balanced diet and visit your doctor for regular check ups n If you are receiving care in your own home, be sure you participate in all decisions relating to your care n Make provisions for future circumstances and ensure that your wishes are known n If you are unhappy with any behaviour you are experiencing, tell someone If you are a family carer n Join a group that offers support, information and access to training to help you in your role n Understand and be aware of the signs that can indicate stress or exhaustion n Be aware of the supports that are available to you and how you can access these n Develop a network of family and friends for assistance when needed n Allow yourself time out to look after your own needs and maintain your own health and well-being If you are a friend or neighbour n Call and visit the older person as often as you can. Provide a listening ear and become a confidante n Be alert for the signs of abuse in all its various forms n Know what to do if you believe an older person is experiencing mistreatment or abuse n Educate others on how to recognise and report elder abuse There is no excuse for elder abuse. Open your eyes. Tell someone. 9

10 Financial Abuse Financial abuse is one of the most commonly reported forms of abuse in Ireland. Actions can be taken to protect against financial abuse. Stay Organised n Keep track of your money, including your cash & loose change n Lock all valuable documents in a secure place n Do not leave items of value where they can be easily removed n Shred any discarded bills, receipts or statements n Be careful who you share personal information with and never provide personal details over the phone n Do not respond to unsolicited s looking for bank details or other personal information Stay Informed n Consult with a solicitor or your bank manager about your future plans. Seek independent advice where possible n When seeking legal or financial advice, do so independently or only in the company of someone you trust n Build a relationship with your bank manager as he or she can monitor any suspicious activity on your account n Be sure that you understand all documents you sign and the implications involved n Be sure that you are included in all decisions about your finances n Ask questions and take your time to consider your options before committing to a financial decision n Only provide access to your financial affairs to someone that you trust and, only if you need to 10

11 n Check all bank and credit card statements for any unauthorised activity n Keep receipts from cash machine withdrawals, credit card and debit card transactions, and check these against your bank statement Stay alert n Check credentials and references before hiring anyone for work n Never leave strangers, including workers with official identity, unsupervised in your home. Consider having a friend to stay with you for the duration of the work n Always use a traceable method of payment for any work carried out. Avoid paying in cash, but if you need to, always ask for a receipt printed with the name and contact details of the person who provided the service You have the right not to be threatened or intimidated. If you think someone close to you is trying to take control of your finances, tell someone. HSE Information Line Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm Website:

12 Living in a Residential Care Facility Residential care can offer a safe environment in which your medical and care needs are met. However, sometimes, conditions can exist that allow abuse to happen. Steps can be taken to minimise risk. If you are a resident n Familiarise yourself with the care facility s Statement of Purpose and Function, which outlines its philosophy of care, services, activities, accommodation and so forth n Be sure that all aspects of your care plan and any treatments are discussed and agreed with you n Should you or another resident suffer abuse, tell someone. Don t keep quiet Quality standards The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has produced a document entitled National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland and this is available to view on HIQA s website at The document sets down standards for the protection of older people in residential care settings. They guide and assist nursing homes in the provision of the highest quality of care to their residents and promote best practice, improving the quality of life of residents. If you are unhappy with the standard of care or services that you are getting, take action, talk to the owner or the person in charge. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse take action, tell someone. 12

13 Spotlight on Discrimination Ageism, also called age discrimination, is the stereotyping of, and discrimination against, individuals or groups because of their age. Ageism and ageist attitudes can convey the message that older people are of less value than other citizens. This message is reflected in the ways that people think and speak about older people and act towards them. As an older person you may come to see yourself as others see you, and this can diminish your confidence and limit your potential as a person and as a citizen. Challenge ageism n Examine your own attitude towards ageing and other older people n Use non-ageist language when referring to yourself and other older people, e.g. older people prefer the phrase older people to other phrases n Question policies and procedures that can be discriminatory towards you as an older person n Suggest ways in which social and other services can be more age friendly, so that you can have full participation 13

14 Useful Resources Health Service Executive (HSE) HSE Information Line Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm Website: You will be provided with the details of HSE staff in your local area who can help you. Age Action Tel: Monday to Friday, 9.30am pm Website: A leading charity that campaigns for better policies and services for older people. Alzheimer Society of Ireland National Alzheimer Helpline Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm Website: Ireland s leading, national dementiaspecific service provider and advocate for people with Alzheimer s disease or a related dementia and their carers and families. Senior Help Line Lo-call Daily from 10am 4pm and 7pm 10pm Website: For the price of a local call you will be talking to an older person who will welcome your call. All calls are confidential. The Carers Association National Careline Freefone Monday to Friday, 9.30am pm Website: Ireland s national voluntary organisation for and of family carers in the home. Caring for Carers Ireland Tel: Website: Caring for Carers promotes the Health, Wellbeing and Quality of Life of Family Carers and those for whom they care. 14

15 Financial Services Ombudsman Lo-call , Monday to Friday, 9am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm Website: Deals independently with unresolved complaints from consumers about their individual dealings with all financial service providers; it is a free service. The Law Society Tel: Website: Your local solicitor can assist you with legal advice and help organise your affairs. The Society is responsible for the education, admission, enrolment, discipline and regulation of the solicitors profession. The National Consumer Agency Lo-call or Monday to Friday, 9am - 6pm Website: The aim of the National Consumer Agency is to provide strong consumer protection, safeguarding consumers in Ireland and empowering them to understand and to exercise their rights. Irish Senior Citizen s Parliament Tel: Website: A national organisation of older people that gives a voice to older people on the issues that affect the quality of their lives. Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) Helpline: Monday to Friday, 9am 8pm Website: MABS is the only free, national, confidential and independent service for people in debt or in danger of getting into debt. An Garda Síochána. For emergencies call 999 or 112 Contact your local Garda Station Disclaimer Note: The contents of this booklet are provided as an information guide only and are intended to enhance awareness regarding elder abuse. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the material in this publication, no responsibility is accepted by, nor liability assumed by or on behalf of the participating organisations 15

16 An information booklet on Elder Abuse Design & Print by Modern Printers: raud donment sault Fraud Discrimination timidation assment iolence Neglect ent Exploitation HSE Information Line Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm Website: Discrimination Isolation Harassment Discrimination Violence Mistreatment Ageism Violence Assault Exploitat Mistreatment Neglect Abandonment Fraud Intimidation

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