Elder abuse cases drop to 96 last year from 127 in 2019
Most cases involve physical abuse or neglect: Ministry of Social and Family Development
The number of abuse cases involving the vulnerable elderly has fallen from 127 in 2019 to 96 last year.
Most of the cases investigated by the Ministry of Social and Family Development's Adult Protective Service (APS) involved physical abuse or neglect.
But there were also other forms of abuse, including psychological, emotional and sexual abuse.
The figures were released to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day today.
The ministry attributed the drop in the number of elder abuse cases to increased collaboration between its APS and community agencies, which are equipped to manage low to moderate risk cases.
The timely intervention and support for all cases involving vulnerable elderly led to drop in the number of investigations directly managed by APS last year.
Despite the fall in numbers, social worker Valencia Ng, 29, said one case is still one too many.
Ms Ng, who is also the team lead at Care Corner Project StART (CCPS), a family violence specialist centre, said the elderly are often not willing to share their family situation with others.
She described the case of Madam Lim (not her real name) who was abused by her daughter and son-in-law for more than 10 years.
"They would intentionally throw her belongings and medications away and empty the dustpan on her bed.
"In one incident, she was even hit on the head," she recalled.
Ms Ng said the incident was reported to the police, and Madam Lim was advised to file a personal protection order.
Her case came to light only when she opened up to a medical social worker about it last year.
The elderly woman, who is now in her 80s, moved out of her daughter and son-in-law's home that year.
She was linked to the Social Service Office by CCPS for financial support and appealed to the Housing Board for a rental unit, said Ms Ng.
Another victim, Mrs Ang (not her real name), was displaying "bizarre behaviour" attributed to dementia when she was abused by her husband in 2019.
Said Ms Ng: "Due to her dementia, she would eat raw food and insist on going out in the middle of the night.
"Her husband, in an attempt to stop her, would slap and shout at her.
"While his actions are unacceptable, what he did could be linked to him not understanding that her behaviour could be attributed to dementia. He has since shown remorse and made amends."
Ms Margaret Thomas, president of the Association of Women for Action and Research, said elderly people with dementia and other mental health conditions may be at a heightened risk of abuse.
This is because caring for someone with dementia is associated with a larger burden, which often causes stress or resentment in a caregiver.
Dementia patients also often display aggression, which could lead the caregivers to commit abusive acts, she added.
Ms Ng said she hopes the community continues to be the "eyes and ears on the ground" to ensure such abuse cases are nipped in the bud.
She also urged caregivers to get support and request for respite care should they need it.