Older people in Europe are vulnerable to poor treatment, neglect and abuse, according to a survey presented by the European Commission on 17 March 2008.
Almost half (47%) of people across the EU consider the phenomenon to be widespread in their country – and the challenge is only likely to increase as Europeans get older.
As Europeans live longer, the share of the EU population aged over 80 is due to increase three- or four-fold to 12% by 2050. More and more people will depend on the care of relatives or professional carers and be vulnerable to neglect or even abuse. But while abuse can take many different forms – ranging from physical to psychological – it is more often the result of an inability to cope on the part of stressed and overburdened carers than intent to exploit or harm vulnerable older people.
A high level EU conference in Brussels on 17 March 2008 offered policy makers and experts an opportunity to discuss the quality of care for frail elderly people and pool ideas on preventing elder abuse.