FOR most people this is a magical time of year when it is traditional to visit family, remember loved ones and share presents.
It’s also a time when, as a society, we think about those who are homeless or alone.
There is a firm belief that no one should be neglected at Christmas.
But in the UK over half-a-million of our older people are abused and neglected every day. They are robbed, beaten, harassed, humiliated and assaulted.
And this happens whether they are living at home or in care. And it happens at Christmas too.
Calls to our national helpline (080 8808 8141) show a depressing picture, with the majority of victims over 70 years of age.
I would therefore like to appeal to everyone to do something practical to help. We know that abuse thrives in secrecy and that abusers hate outside attention.
So, this Christmas, please don’t forget your elderly friend, neighbour or loved one. If you haven’t seen them for some time, take this opportunity to visit and bring some magic back into their lives.
If you have a care home in your area, go and visit. Your very presence may improve someone’s life.
Action on Elder Abuse survives on public donations and works hard to raise standards of care and seek justice and protection for those who suffer. But we can’t be everywhere.
So please, treasure your friendship with an older person and keep in touch with them.
Because we owe them the society we now enjoy, and we also owe them a life free from cruelty and suffering.
And, if you are unable to directly assist an older person, support us instead. Like all charities, we need volunteers and we need money. But together we can make a difference.
Gary FitzGerald DSc (hc), MA
Action on Elder Abuse