'Serious, widespread' abuse of elderly in Norther Ireland
Nearly one in 10 elderly people in Northern Ireland is at risk of abuse, most often from family members or close relatives, a charity has warned.
Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) said the province was facing "a serious and widespread problem".
Director Veronica Gray will be one of the key speakers at a conference today organised by the Presbyterian Church to launch its guidelines on adult safeguarding.
Ms Gray said: "At the conference we will outline the nature and the scale of elder abuse here, and the support available from our AEA charity for anyone at risk, who is concerned about an older person."
She said a survey carried out by AEA last autumn revealed 8.1% of people here over the age of 65 said that they had experienced abuse of some kind.
"This suggests that more than 23,600 older people could be victims," Ms Gray added.
The statistics showed that 6.8% experienced psychological abuse such as mockery, threats and intimidation, affecting nearly 20,000 individuals.
More than 7,000 older people (2.7%) reported physical abuse, including hitting, slapping and spitting.
More than 4,000 people (1.4%) complained about financial abuse, for example the misuse of power of attorney, theft and fraud.
Ms Gray said the charity is campaigning for tougher penalties for those who abuse older people, by making it an aggravating factor for sentencing.
She added: "It is clear that the abuse of older people is a massive problem in Northern Ireland.
"And, at the moment, there is not enough of a deterrent."