Date Published: 14-Apr-2011
The harrowing and shocking ‘angels from heaven’ court case last year, where two Galway brothers conned a 71-years-old woman cancer patient out of more than €400,000, brought the issue of elder abuse sharply into focus.
The men heard that the pensioner had received a large sum of money from the sale of land in County Galway and they quickly moved in to extract all of her savings, leaving her penniless within a year.
One of the perpetrators falsely claimed he, too, suffered from cancer and he preyed on her deep religious faith to gain her trust with the intention of extorting hundreds of thousands of euros from her.
The victim felt belittled and was living in fear of being shot by someone as one of the men had told her he had friends in the IRA – this was just another way in which threats and intimidation were used to exhort money from her. She was told lies so she would hand over money; her ATM card was used on numerous occasions to withdraw cash when she was in hospital.
During the court case in 2010, Judge Raymond Groarke remarked that this was “as mean and as miserable” a crime as he had come across. The judge didn’t mention the phrase ‘elder abuse’ during sentencing, but it was surely one of the most high profile instances of elder abuse recorded in Galway.
It’s also an extreme example of elder abuse, but on a daily basis throughout this city and county, over 65s are suffering various forms of abuse, most likely from close relatives, which is often hidden from those around them.
Although it’s a relatively new phrase or concept – elder abuse was defined in 2002 as “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person or violates their human and civil rights” – that doesn’t mean it’s a new phenomenon. But it is becoming more prevalent as awareness increases.
“It’s a growing area, and every year we see an increase in referrals of elder abuse because people are becoming more aware of what it is,” says Susan Rodden, senior care worker for elder abuse with HSE West, who is at the coalface of elder abuse in Galway city and county.
Research by the National Centre for the Protection of Older People, which was published in 2010, showed that in a period of one year 10,200 older people were abused and 18,700 older people had suffered elder abuse since they reached the age of 65.
In 2009 – the most up to date year for which data is available – the HSE dealt with a total of 1,870 referrals of elder abuse and 21% of these were in the HSE West area. The figures for 2010, which will be published in a couple of months, will show an increasing trend.
The HSE doesn’t give a county by county breakdown of these 389 cases of elder abuse in the west – it wants to avoid ‘league tables’ or labels of the ‘worst’ counties for elder abuse – but it is safe to assume that many of them are in Galway, given that the city and county has the oldest population of any HSE local health area office in the country.
Two thirds of referrals are for woman and “almost half of all referrals are people over 80 years of age because they are most vulnerable,” says Susan.
The most common form of elder abuse is psychological (34%), which includes verbal abuse and put downs, bullying, humiliating or embarrassing the victim and intimidation. Financial abuse (22%) is the next most common followed by neglect (20%), physical abuse (14%) and sexual abuse (2%).
One of the most heart-breaking aspects of elder abuse is that it is perpetrated, in the most part, by family and close relatives – wives, husbands, sons, daughters, nieces and nephews.
The HSE West has produced a DVD where it shows fictional cases that are reflective of the instances of elder abuse they encounter in the community. It was shown last week at a Galway workshop organised by the health authority and Age Action Ireland to heighten awareness about the issue.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Galway has country’s largest population of young people
Date Published: 07-May-2013
Galway has a population of young people which is more than twice the national average.
According to information gathered by the Central Statistics Office, Galway’s population of 20 to 24 year olds is more than twice the national average.
The number of 25-34 year olds in Galway is also more than the norm nationally, with the two main colleges thought to be the main reason.
However immigration in Galway is much higher than in other areas at 19.4 percent, compared to the national average of 12 percent.
Call for direct donations to city charity shops
Date Published: 07-May-2013
A city councillor is encouraging people to donate goods directly to charity shops.
It follows allegations of thefts from clothes banks in Galway and across the country in recent months.
However, cameras are in place at some clothes banks and surveillance is carried out by local authorities.
Speaking on Galway Talks, Councillor Neil McNeilis said the problem of theft from clothes banks is widespread.
Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent
Date Published: 07-May-2013
A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.
That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.
The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.
Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.
Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.