Elderly abuse complaints rise 23pc, NGO says

Family pocketing welfare payments was a top concern last year, an NGO says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 January, 2013, 4:59am

Complaints about abuse of the elderly have risen by 23 per cent over the past three years, a welfare agency says - with most of the claims relating to children pocketing their parents' welfare payments.

The vice-executive director of Against Elderly Abuse, Selwyn Yu Ka-lung, said it handled 2,687 cases involving the elderly last year.

Some of the older folk had fallen victim to financial abuse because of a spate of "sweeteners" the government had handed out recently, he said.

Last year, the government gave HK$6,000 to all residents. Recipients of the old age allowance also received an extra month's payment in 2012.

The money contributed to the worsening of financial abuse against older people, Yu said.

The association said that 65.6 per cent of the complaints related to claims from the elderly that their children or other family members were taking their money.

This compared with 1,182 cases about the problem recorded in 2010 and 1,402 cases in 2011. The total number of elderly abuse complaints were 2,212 in 2011 and 2,184 in 2010.

"Some children suddenly appear to be very caring, then come up with excuses for money, claiming there is an emergency," Yu said.

The association is also concerned about a rise in elderly people complaining about psychological abuse. The number of cases rose to 403 last year, against 286 in 2011. Yu said many of the cases came from older husbands, who said their younger mainland wives were abusing them.

"The younger wives, after settling in Hong Kong, are accused of abusing their elderly husbands mentally and sometimes physically, before divorcing them."

Psychological abuse includes the wives forcing the husbands out of the home," Yu said.

He called on the government to draft laws to protect elderly people from abuse by family members. "The government has been ignoring the need for such laws," he said.