Today is World Elder Abuse Day and an appropriate time to reflect on ground-breaking Scottish legislation in this regard – namely the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007.
It is only in recent years that the public has started to become aware of the problem of elder abuse and policy makers, practitioners and researchers have started to make a concerted effort to understand and address the issue.
The Adult Support and Protection Act (2007) seeks to protect adults at risk of being abused. Scotland is the only nation in the UK that has legislation like this in place, although our sister charity, Age Cymru, has been campaigning to rule out abuse and the Welsh Government intends to pass a similar law to that in Scotland.
Despite current Scottish legislation it is estimated that elder abuse affects over 20,000 older people in the Scotland each year, or 1 in 40 of the older population. It is estimated that on average only 1 out of 5 cases is reported, with women and the ‘older’ old most affected.
Abuse and mistreatment includes neglect and financial, psychological, physical and sexual abuse. Where family members perpetrate abuse there is a reluctance to involve the police. Where an older person lacks full capacity it appears to be much harder to secure a prosecution, resulting in perpetrators of serious crimes going free.
World Elder Abuse Day raises awareness of the issue to ensure that vulnerable people are safe, protected from harm and given the right to dignity and respect.
If you are worried about a family member or someone you know or want to get information on elder abuse, you can phone the Age Scotland Helpline on 0845 125 9732.