Age UK has called for better training for health and social care services in protecting older people from domestic abuse.
The plea came as it was revealed that more than 200,000 people aged 60 and over experience domestic abuse in England and Wales every year.
Analysis by Age UK also found that one in four (23%) victims of domestic homicides is over the age of 60.
But this figure could be much higher, as the National Crime Survey does not record data about domestic abuse survivors past the age of 74, Age UK said.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK said: “There’s a widespread misconception that domestic abuse only happens to younger people, but sadly hundreds of thousands of older people are affected too. It’s high time that this was fully recognised by the law, policy and practice so that the needs of older survivors can be identified and properly met.”
In a report launched this week, Age UK calls for the final version of the Domestic Abuse Bill, that will form part of the Queen’s speech, to include the views and needs of older people.
The charity wants data to be recorded for people of all ages, as well as a new definition of domestic abuse to include abuse perpetrated by those who provide unpaid care.
Age UK has also called for better training of health and social care workers to spot abuse, such as for staff who are discharging patients to hospital, when abuse may come to light.
It said the there is a role for the Care Quality Commission in ensuring there are sufficient safeguards in place to prevent abuse by a paid professional providing care.
“At Age UK we want this Bill to include provisions to bring older domestic abuse survivors in from the cold, and that means in particular recognising the important roles that health professionals can play in spotting when domestic abuse is going on and in supporting older survivors to get the help they need. It may well be that the first time domestic abuse comes to light is when an older person is admitted to hospital, or discharged back home, so it’s the professionals working with older people in these contexts who need some specific training the most,” said Abrahams.
“The fact that no data is collected about domestic abuse survivors past the age of 74 has helped to keep the problem of domestic abuse in later life well and truly hidden, hindering efforts to get support to older people who desperately need it. This age limit is ageist, and a way must be found to collect this essential data from people aged 75 and over.”
Adina Claire, acting co-chief executive at Women’s Aid said: “We welcome Age UK’s recommendations for the domestic abuse bill, such as collecting data on all ages and embedding policy and practice across health and social care which will transform the support provided to older survivors, improving and saving lives. It is vital that their needs are considered in this legislation.”