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Charity fears rise in abuse of the elderly as coronavirus lockdown continues

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Concerns: Veronica Gray

Concerns: Veronica Gray

Concerns: Veronica Gray

An increase in abuse against older people during the Covid-19 pandemic will not end after lockdown, a charity has warned.

Last month the safer ageing charity Hourglass warned that isolation during the coronavirus crisis would create a "pressure cooker" environment, making elder abuse more likely.

Deputy CEO Veronica Gray, who is based in Newry, said there had already been a growing demand for support.

"The range of issues on which people are contacting us since this nightmare started are increasing," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"We have a lot more contact from people concerned about neglect of older people and issues coming from care homes.

"We're also starting to see calls that are related to abuse. For example alcoholism, gambling, health issues, bereavement.

"Those issues aren't going to go away when lockdown ends, so we're very much calling on the government to support us, not just to deliver more services through this Covid nightmare, but also to prepare for the Covid hangover."

She also called for more vigilance from the public as many older people become harder to reach.

"What we can not stand by and let happen is for older people at home to be left and neglected during this crisis. They should be given the utmost care and support," she said.

"I think we need to change how we approach prevention. Traditionally, older people would have had more callers and visitors, but now we're relying on food delivery, volunteers, befriending services, telephone helpline staff.

"We're asking those people to be the eyes and ears to support older people who are at risk and to provide our helpline number to those older people because we are here to support them."

Further information is available at wearehourglass.org or by calling the free helpline on 0808 808 8141.

Belfast Telegraph