Argyll and Bute council is reminding people in the area that sometimes adults need protection too. Along with 13 other Scottish councils it is behind a new hard hitting TV campaign to raise awareness of the problem.
Elderly people can become frail and suffer from dementia. They can also suffer physical, sexual and financial abuse – often at the hands of family members. People with mental health problems and learning disabilities are often targeted within their communities and can suffer both verbal and physical abuse. Long term alcohol abuse causes brain damage which can affect someone’s ability to look after themselves. The advert focuses on all of these problems.
In Argyll and Bute the number of overall referrals rose from 26 in the third quarter of 2009 to 79 in the last quarter of 2010. This was due to an increase in referrals from social work and the police. The most reported problems were physical abuse, psychological abuse and self harm. Spokesperson for social affairs Councillor Andrew Nisbet said this campaign is all about raising awareness.
“Being an adult is about being able to look after yourself but people can become frail, they can develop dementia, they can suffer from mental illness and alcohol or drugs can take their toll - unfortunately there is often someone who is willing to take advantage of the vulnerable.”
“It’s important people in Argyll and Bute are aware of the issues some adults face from physical injury to cynical exploitation. We want people to take action and change a life, possibly their own.”
It’s a two week campaign and the advert will be shown on STV reaching 2.3 million adults in the Glasgow transmission area.
The advert promotes a free hotline number – 0300 777 6520 and a website people can use to get help or report concerns about friends, relatives or neighbours.
Research from Mencap, the charity for people with learning disabilities and their families, found 90% of people with learning disabilities reported being bullied in the last year with over 30% of them suffering verbal or physical assault every day or every week.
The Living in Fear report, produced by Mencap, shows over 70% of people with a learning difficulty have been verbally abused, threatened or assaulted in a public place. Incidents are unprovoked and occur while people are going about their daily business. A significant number of people also reported that they had been harassed in their own neighbourhood many by neighbours as well as by local children and young people.
Research from the charity Action on Elder Abuse revealed property and cash worth nearly £8 million, including 31 homes, had been stolen from UK pensioners in just one year. The figures are generated from 471 calls to the charity’s helpline.
A profile of those most likely to commit financial abuse against people over 66 found an elderly person’s son and/or daughter was the most likely perpetrator. They are likely to be between 41 and 60 years old, no longer live at home and have a range of personal issues like; relationship problems, financial problems and drug use.