Do you know the signs of elder abuse?

The Police & Crime Commissioner for Gwent is urging residents to learn how to spot the signs of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of older people.

Monday 15 June is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which aims to focus global attention on the growing problem of elder abuse.

Tackling violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence is one the key priorities for the Commissioner, Jeff Cuthbert. He is working with the VAWDASV Regional Team and Gwent Police to encourage people experiencing it to seek help, and for residents to raise flag safeguarding concerns with professionals.

Jeff Cuthbert said: “Supporting vulnerable people is one of my key priorities and at the heart of my Police and Crime Plan for Gwent. We know that older people are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, and we fear that opportunities for this to happen have increased due to the increased isolation caused by Covid-19. There will always be people who seek to exploit the vulnerable, so it has never been so important for people to keep an eye out for any signs of abuse.

“We need to ensure all our older residents know what abuse is and that, if they experience it, they need to report it. We also need to encourage friends, family, professionals, volunteers and neighbours to speak out if they think someone might be being abused.

“Please don’t let them suffer in silence. Gwent Police are here for you and they will listen to your concerns.”

Chief Constable of Gwent Police, Pam Kelly, said: “If you’re giving an elderly family member, friend or neighbour a hand, keep an eye out for any signs of abuse. Gwent Police are here to help so please, if you have any concerns, don’t be afraid to contact us.”

If someone is being abused, do you know what to look for?

Physical signs can include cuts, bruises, wounds, burns, broken bones, untreated injuries, poor skin condition or skin hygiene, dehydration and/or malnourished, weight loss, and damaged clothes or items in the home.

Psychological signs can include unlikely stories, reluctance to talk openly, confusion, anger without apparent cause, sudden behaviour changes, being emotionally upset or agitated, unexplained fear or becoming withdrawn, non-communicative or non-responsive.

Financial signs can include changes to a person’s banking, wills or assets, unpaid bills when someone else is supposed to be paying them, excessive care costs, valuable items disappearing, and lack of simple affordable amenities.

VAWDASV Gwent Regional Lead Advisor Janie Dent said: “One in four women and one in six men are affected by abuse at some point their lifetime. They are often too scared to speak out or may not know how to get help. We all have a role to play in tackling all types of abuse, including elder abuse.

“If you're a victim of domestic abuse, or know someone who is, take a moment to stop and report it. There are wide range of specialist services available in Gwent that can help you.”

Free online training is available to residents to help tackle all forms of VAWDASV. Welsh Government wants anyone who is still in a position to spot potential abuse, such as volunteers, key workers, postal workers and shop staff, to be able to recognise the signs of abuse and know how they can safely help. Online training can be accessed via https://learning2.wales.nhs.uk/login/index.php

For more information about reporting someone you believe to be vulnerable, go to www.gwentsafeguarding.org.uk