Page last updated at 05:49 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 06:49 UK

Laws 'could tackle' elderly abuse

A nurse helping an elderly lady
Scotland has already passed a law to give protection to older people

A pledge has been made to "lead a campaign" for new laws in Wales to prevent the abuse of elderly people.

Help the Aged in Wales and Age Concern Cymru said it planned to review the issue and would launch the action if there was enough support.

It comes as 93% of 1,330 Welsh adults said they wanted a new law to protect the elderly from abuse and neglect. Scotland has passed a similar law.

The deputy older people's commissioner for Wales said she would back a law.

A UK government survey in 2007 found that older people in Wales were more likely to face abuse than in any other UK nation.

The two-year study revealed thousands of older people are being physically, sexually or psychologically abused, usually by their own relatives.

Help the Aged in Wales and Age Concern Cymru - which recently merged - said it was particularly concerned about the rising problem of financial scamming, which has increased during the recession.

There is a public consensus in Wales that assertive action is needed to protect older people from mistreatment
Robert Taylor, Help the Aged in Wales and Age Concern Cymru

Louise Hughes, who works on the charity's Elder Abuse Project, which aims to promote the support and services available for abused elderly people, said legislation could help the problem.

"It's important that people have something that has legislative backing so if someone's being abused, they will have protection," she said.

"Although it has to be a combination of things - legislation won't solve the problem by itself. It has to be part of a system that incorporates robust guidelines and access to adequate support services."

'Demoralises and demeans'

The charity is hosting a two-day national conference in Ewloe, Flintshire, where abuse issues will be discussed.

Chief executive Robert Taylor said the research showed people in Wales "are not prepared to tolerate elder abuse".

"Elder abuse in any shape or form is completely unacceptable - it demoralises, demeans and denies older people the right to live free of fear from harm.

"If legislation is the answer to eradicating elder abuse in Wales, Age Concern Cymru and Help the Aged in Wales will lead the campaign to make this happen."

Sarah Stone, deputy older people's commissioner for Wales, said she believed there should be a review into current adult protection laws to see how they could be improved.

In particular, she believed Wales should look into and learn from Scotland's legislation before introducing a law targeted specifically at the abuse of elderly people in Wales.

"Legislation in Scotland has a number of interesting features and I'm going to the conference to hear more about how it's working. Whatever we do in Wales we need to look at the best evidence available ," she said.

"The abuse of elderly people is a huge issue for us and so we need to look at everything - not just legislation - to improve the situation."

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