Merton Council report reveals 52 per cent rise in abuse of elderly
Families are keeping elderly relatives at home to protect their inheritance, a report has revealed.
Between April and March 2011, Merton Council received 376 reports of abuse against the elderly with nearly all cases occurring in their own home - which represents a 52 per cent rise on the previous year’s figures.
Of the abuse reported 65 per cent was said to have been committed unintentionally with 71 per cent of abuse alleged to have been carried out by a family member.
One example in the report was of families refusing to put their relatives into a care home instead keeping them at home to avoid expensive care home fees eating into their inheritance.
One well meaning, but untrained carer, frequently dragged the person they were caring for across the floor, simply because they had no specialist equipment and was unable to carry them.
Another tied their loved-one to a chair to prevent them from falling over.
The report read: "Family members may try and care for relatives themselves to protect their inheritance.
"Unlike the National Health Service, which is ‘free at the point of delivery’, social care is means tested and can incur costs.
"Residential care is particularly expensive and older people may have to use pensions, savings, or sell their home to pay for it."
Stephen James, trustee at Action for Elder Abuse, said instances of families keeping relatives at home to protect their inheritance was nothing new.
He said: "My suspicion is that it’s more acute at the moment simply because of the financial climate we are in.
"There are many more people unemployed and having to count the pennies."
He added: "Quite often unintentional abuse equates to carer stress and it can creep up on you.
"You don’t know it’s there and you are at the end of your tether and you have not got enough help or support in caring for the person and sometimes abuse can happen because of that.
"It’s not intentional or premeditated."
Merton Council has drafted a report outlining measures to safeguard the elderly from abuse which was unanimously agreed by members of the Healthier Communities and Older People Overview and Scrutiny Panel on Thursday, April 19.
Councillor Suzanne Evans, chairman of the panel, said: "We appreciate it won’t stop all abuse but we hope it has put it on the agenda and that residents can be assured we are looking at it seriously."
The proposals will now go forward to cabinet.