asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what information he has as to the incidence of the physical or mental abuse of the elderly within the family in each of the last 20 years;(2) further to his announcement on 8 November,
Official Report, c. 330, about encouraging good practice by local authorities and health authorities with regard to elderly people suffering from senile dementia, if he will also take steps to reduce the strain on families looking after such elderly people which may encourage physical and mental abuse.
I have no statistics about the incidence of physical or mental abuse of elderly people within the family. I am aware of professional reports of incidents of this sort, and I am also aware of the strain that the care of elderly people, especially those with psychiatric disorders, can sometimes impose on relatives and other supporters. That is one reason why I am taking special steps to encourage good practice in services for elderly people with psychiatric disorders: it is good practice to provide help for family supporters, such as day care and holiday relief services. The Department is currently sponsoring research into some of the social aspects of dementia, with particular reference to other methods by which families caring for elderly relatives with this disorder can be helped and supported.