WHO report on elder mistreatment in Europe
Elder maltreatment is pervasive in all countries in the WHO European Region, and estimates suggest that at least 4 million people in the Region experience elder maltreatment in any one year. Most countries in the Region have an ageing population, and one third of the population is forecast to be 60 years and older in 2050, putting more people at risk of elder maltreatment. Elder maltreatment has far-reaching consequences for the mental and physical well-being of tens of millions of older people, and if left unchecked will result in their premature death. Estimates suggest that about 2500 older people may lose their lives annually from elder maltreatment. The report highlights the numerous biological, social, cultural, economic and environmental factors that interact to influence the risk and protective factors of being a victim or perpetrator of elder maltreatment. There is some evidence of effectiveness, and examples include psychological programmes for perpetrators and programmes designed to change attitudes towards older people, improve the mental health of caregivers and, in earlier life, to promote nurturing relationships and social skills learning. The evidence base needs to be strengthened, but much can be done by implementing interventions using an evaluative framework. Prevention and social justice for older people can only be achieved by mainstreaming this response into health and social policy. Surveys show that the public and policy-makers are increasingly concerned about the problem, and the policy response needs to be strengthened to meet this demand.