Elder abuse and justice

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Funding

  • The Big Lottery Fund: £889,623.00

Funder Project Reference(s)

unknown
Short titleDewis Choice
Effective start/end date02 Mar 201531 May 2019

Description

Alan Clarke, Sarah Wydall and John Williams from the Department of Law and Criminology at Aberystwyth University have been awarded a major research grant of £890,000 from the Big Lottery as part of a £1.3m research project on justice and elder abuse.

The work will be undertaken within the Centre for Ageing, Abuse and Neglect, which is one of the research centres based at the Department of Law and Criminology.

Although the fact that we live longer is welcome, a consequence of an ageing population is that older people may experience abuse at the hands of people they trust. Within the United Kingdom, there has been considerable media coverage of elder abuse in hospitals, care homes and other institutional settings.

However, older people are also abused in their own homes. It may be financial, physical, emotional or sexual. Perpetrators may be family members, people who are supposed to provide care, or so called friends.

The impact of abuse on the older person is often significant leading to social isolation, poor nutrition, fuel poverty and debt. These are in addition to the risk of physical harm because of violence or neglect.

The researchers are concerned that many victims of elder abuse fail to get justice. Prosecutions are rare as are actions under the civil law. Although in some cases prosecution may be the right thing to do, it may also be inappropriate and may worsen the situation for the older person.

The dynamics of elder abuse are complex. An older person who is financially abused by a grandchild, may not want to see them prosecuted – that would impose a strain on the family and could lead to breakdown within the family and the older person being deprived of wider family support.