Five pct. of independently-living Dutch elderly face abuse

Elderly (Photo: marina guimarães/Wikimedia Commons)Elderly (Photo: marina guimarães/Wikimedia Commons)

At least one in 20 Dutch over 65-year-olds who still live at home face physical, psychological or financial abuse, according to a large-scale study among Dutch senior citizens commissioned by the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports, NOS reports. 

The perpetrator is often a family member, acquaintance or neighbor. In six out of ten cases, the perpetrator is male. In most cases, the abuse occurs more than once. Almost a third of victims report being abused 11 or more times. As they get older, the elderly are more often abused. 

According to the researchers, these figures are just "the tip of the iceberg". The respondents in this study were relatively fit and well educated, while especially frail older people often fall victim to abuse. The Netherlands has around 3.1 million residents over the age of 65.

Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health says that he is shocked by the study's outcome. Elderly people should fee safe at home, he said, according to NOS. The Minister called for more cooperation at local level between municipalities, Veilig Thuis and senior citizens' unions. 

Senior citizens' union ANBO agrees that more cooperation may be the solution. Director Lianne den Haan hopes that De Jonge will "take over and enforce this cooperation", she said to NOS. "Elder abuse has been on the agenda since 2011, but the situation has hardly improved. There are more reports coming in, but this investigation shows that there is still much we do not know." She called this a sad and difficult problem "We also receive cases where the perpetrator is the only family member who visits occasionally."