Book Review

Published date01 November 2000
Date01 November 2000
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Sociology
42 © Pavilion Publishing (Brighton) Limited The Journal of Adult Protection Volume 2 Issue 4 • November 2000
Book review
Neglect and
of Older People:
An Exploratory
Anne O’Loughlin
and Joseph Duggan
(Irish) National
Council on Ageing
and Older People
(Report No 52), 1998
The publication of this report marks an important step in
raising awareness of abuse of older people in Ireland. It is part
of an on-going strategy by the National Council on Ageing
and Older People to draw attention to the position of older
people in contemporary Irish society. Until fairly recently,
‘continued high levels of fertility in Ireland have resulted in
a population that is not proportionally old by European
standards’ (p62). However, as the authors point out, the older
population is likely to increase by about 25% in the 10 years
to 2011.
In that demographic context, together with increased
longevity of individuals and frailty in the last years, abuse of
elderly people is sure to become a subject of concern. Before
1990, it was virtually invisible in Irish society. This report,
therefore, is timely and fits well into growing political interest
and media attention. One of the authors (O’Loughlin) has
contributed to this process by her small scale qualitative
research, using a sample from referrals to social workers in the
geriatric department of a Dublin hospital. From small acorns…
The first five chapters are largely devoted to discussion
of the literature on the subject from other countries, notably
the UK. It surveys and summarises empirical research and
conceptual issues concerning abuse, such as definitions, the
notion of ‘risk’ and so on, and factors associated with it, identi-
fication and interventions. Although this is familiar ground to
UK readers, it is competently done and provides a concise
account of the critical issues and dilemmas which have to be
The second part of the book, from chapter six onwards,
brings the subject back to Ireland. Chapter six draws attention
to the growth of awareness and concern in parallel fields such
as child abuse and domestic violence. Subsequent chapters
place the issues within the legal and policy frameworks
which have shaped responses towards children and adults
experiencing abuse. The authors point out that although there
is no comprehensive legislation ‘which specifically addresses
elder abuse, there is a plethora of existing legislation which is

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