This World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (today), it is worth noting that according to academic research, some 2,010 older people in Sunderland are being abused by those closest to them – whether friends, families or carers.
A further unknown number suffer in some care homes and hospital wards too.
This means 2,010 older people are likely to be feeling frightened and alone, with nobody to turn to, as they are neglected, stolen from or even subjected to physical or sexual violence in their own homes.
These are our next-door neighbours.
That this should be happening to people at this stage in their lives is nothing short of a national scandal, and yet, despite how widespread elder abuse is, this is an issue that remains in the shadows, much as child abuse did a few decades ago.
And, as was once the case with child abuse, it is not taken seriously by our courts.
Our analysis shows that despite an estimated 413,500 people aged 65 or over in England and Wales experiencing some form of abuse each year – ranging from neglect and fraud to physical and sexual assaults – in 2015/16 there were just 3,012 successful criminal convictions.
This means it is likely that 99% of those who abuse older people are not being punished.
This is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue and if we are to halt this epidemic of elder abuse, it is about time the punishment started to fit the crime.
For this reason, Action on Elder Abuse is campaigning for abuse of older people to be classed as an aggravated offence, so the police and our justice system are forced to take it more seriously.
Action on Elder Abuse