‘No excuse for elder abuse’ campaign to be launched in Hertfordshire

The campaign aims to raise awareness of how domestic abuse can affect the elderly. Picture courtesy

The campaign aims to raise awareness of how domestic abuse can affect the elderly. Picture courtesy of Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline. - Credit: Archant

For this year’s annual 16 Days of Action on Domestic Abuse - from November 25 to December 10 - a campaign is being launched in Hertfordshire to raise awareness of how domestic abuse can affect the elderly.

Run by Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline, the campaign looks at how some elderly people may have been victims of violence for decades, while others who have become frail and dependent on help may be suffering neglect.

They may not understand they could be being bullied into parting with money, signing documents they don’t understand or changing their will.

In one case, a frail elderly man was abused by his own son. Age UK Herts provided a domestic support service every week, which involved general cleaning of the house, laundry and shopping services.

The elderly man lived with his son, who was his main carer, and there was no other care package in place.

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Over time, the domestic support worker gradually noticed how the elderly man’s behaviour would suddenly change when his son walked into the room, as he was usually very talkative but would become very withdrawn and quiet whenever the son was there.

The worker also began noticing that the elderly man was losing weight. When the worker asked his son about this, the son became very defensive and would ask the worker to mind their own business.

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On subsequent visits, the worker would not see the elderly man as he had started to stay in his bedroom, with the son saying his father wasn’t feeling well and needed to get some rest.

The worker raised these welfare concerns and they were reported to the local authorities as suspected abuse.

Following an investigation, the elderly man was placed in immediate respite as it was clear his son had been neglecting his role as carer to his father and his father was deteriorating very quickly.

While in respite, the man significantly improved as he was given the care and support he needed.

A long-term housing solution was arranged for him, with a package of care and support.

In another case of domestic abuse, a woman, who is physically frail and unable to leave her home independently, had become increasingly reliant on her neighbour for help.

Her neighbour would help with paying bills, doing some food shopping and other related tasks.

The elderly woman confided in a befriending volunteer from Age UK Herts that she had given a large sum of money to her neighbour, who was struggling financially, and that her neighbour had also told her to pay the full cost of the garden fence they share being replaced.

It transpired that regular sums of money were being withdrawn from the elderly woman’s account without her consent or knowledge, and it was established that the only other person with access to the account was the neighbour, as she was given the bank card for the food shopping trips.

The local authorities were informed and through their intervention Age UK Herts set up a support network for the victim, which included a legal attorney to help with her finances, shopping services, meal services and care package.

Christine Roach, chairman of the Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline, said: “We want to remind people that sometimes the elderly are overlooked when it comes to talking about domestic abuse, which is why we are running the ‘There’s no excuse for elder abuse’ campaign.

“We are indebted to Affinity Water for a grant to enable us to undertake this important campaign, and also to Age UK Herts, Herts Independent Living Service and Herts County Council for their invaluable support.”

If any of the above sounds familiar to you, then the first step is to talk to someone about what is happening. This could be a friend, neighbour or family member.

GP or dentist appointments are also an ideal opportunity to talk privately to someone who can help, or consider talking to your social worker or someone from Age UK Herts or your community meals service.

For independent and free advice on organisations that can help, call the Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline on 08 088 088 088 to talk confidentially to a trained volunteer.

Equally, if you have concerns about a family member, neighbour or friend, call the helpline, which is open 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm at weekends.

Visit hertsdomesticabusehelpline.org for more information.

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