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“The unsettling truth cannot be ignored; 1 in 5 older people are likely to be experiencing financial abuse”

15 June, 2017

The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch, spoke at a Southern Health and Social Care Trust Adult Safeguarding event today to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and spoke of his shock at discovering that 1 in 5 older people in Northern Ireland are likely to be experiencing a form of financial abuse.

This year the theme of the 11th annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is financial exploitation and material abuse of older people. As one of the Commissioner’s key priorities for his term, this is an issue that has become a growing problem in Northern Ireland.

The Commissioner for Older People launched research last year which found that 21% of older people in Northern Ireland were likely to be experiencing a form of financial abuse. Financial abuse takes many forms including theft, withholding pension or benefits or even exerting pressure around wills, property or inheritance.

Speaking to the 200 attendees which included a wide range of health professionals, the Commissioner expressed his shock at the level of financial abuse that his research had uncovered.

“I was both shocked and saddened that 1 in 5 older people in Northern Ireland are experiencing some form of financial abuse and today serves as a timely reminder that the problem still exists and more must be done to tackle this growing problem. In my role as Commissioner for Older People I have seen the devastating impact that financial abuse can have on older people. Aside from the financial loss itself, this crime affects the emotional wellbeing of older people, bringing with it feelings of betrayal, embarrassment and fear.

“21% of older people surveyed for my research confirmed they had experienced issues indicating financial abuse which includes a wide range of issues, ranging from feeling pressured into buying something they neither need nor want to fraudulent use of their signature. This figure is even more alarming when you consider that underreporting is common with financial abuse. This is because it is often difficult and painful for older people to report the crime, especially when the perpetrator is a trusted person.

“Over the next three years of my term I am committed to further examining this issue. The unsettling truth about the level of financial abuse of older people in Northern Ireland cannot be ignored. Government and those working with older people must work together to combat this terrible crime.”

The Commissioner for Older People also called for a single piece of Adult Safeguarding legislation so that older people who may be “at risk” of abuse are better protected and afforded the same legal protection which exists for their counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales.

To view a copy of ‘Financial Abuse of Older People in Northern Ireland: The Unsettling Truth’ click here.

To view a copy of 'Who's Calling? Levels of cold calls and scams of older people in Northern Ireland' click here. 

To view a copy of ‘Protecting our Older People in Northern Ireland: A call for Adult Safeguarding Legislation’ please click here.