The Growing old in the UK 2020 survey, commissioned by the charity, of more than 2,500 adults found that 1 in 5 either had personal experience of abuse as an older person (aged 65+) or knew an older person who had been abused, and 53 per cent of people in the UK felt that the abuse and neglect of older people had increased as a result of lockdown.
Among Scottish respondents, the survey revealed that at least 1 in 5 (23 per cent) don’t believe that ‘inappropriate sexual acts directed at older people’ count as abuse; likewise a more than a fifth (26 per cent) don’t view ‘pushing, hitting, or beating an older person’ as abuse, while a third (31 per cent) don’t see ‘taking precious items from an older relative’s home without asking’ as abuse.
The overall UK figures were even higher than these, at 35 per cent, 30 per cent, and 32 per cent respectively.
Lesley Carcary, Director of Programmes and Director of Hourglass Scotland, said: “These results are genuinely shocking. Although we’ve known for a long time that we live in a world prejudiced against older people, the results show how widespread the issue is. These figures really shine a light on the true scale of the crisis, especially here in Scotland.”
She added that the data confirmed what the charity has long suspected – that the abuse of older people has long been drastically under-reported to authorities.
“Our polling shows that while people know that abuse of older people is a problem in Scotland today, there’s a complete disconnect between awareness of the issue and a true understanding of the role we all play in preventing abuse.”
Carcary said the data revealed a disturbing level of tolerance towards abusive behaviours in our society.
“While I’ve no doubt that the vast majority of people don’t consider themselves to be abusers, the truth is that a troubling proportion of those we surveyed don’t actually see some very harmful behaviours as abuse. Without countering these perceptions, people are far more likely to perpetuate the cycle of abuse and are part of the problem.”