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Elderly abuse cases by professional care workers highest to date: survey

The number of elderly abuse cases by nursing home staff or home care workers hit a record high of 408 in fiscal 2015, according to the results of a Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare survey released on March 21.

    The annual figure for elderly abuse cases has been increasing consecutively since the survey first began in fiscal 2006, the year when the "Elder Abuse Prevention and Caregiver Support Law" was enforced in Japan.

    The number of incidents for fiscal 2015 was 36 percent higher than that of the preceding year, and was 2.6 times higher than three years previously. In addition, it was found that 80 percent of victims were suffering with dementia and had trouble dealing with everyday life. Furthermore, the survey results showed that the number of elderly abuse cases carried out by family members or relatives was 1.5 percent higher than the previous year, at 15,976 cases in total.

    The survey data was collected by examining reports and consultations received by municipal organizations in accordance with the Elder Abuse Prevention and Caregiver Support Law. Cases that were judged to be abuse cases were counted in the final results.

    The latest results indicate that the number of elderly abuse cases carried out by nursing care professionals has exceeded 400 for the first time, with the number of victims being counted as 778. With regard to the nature of the abuse with multiple answers allowed, 61.4 percent were victims of "physical abuse," 27.6 percent had been subject to "psychological abuse" -- in the form of insulting comments or a bad attitude -- and 12.9 percent had been on the receiving end of neglect in areas such as care.

    Reasons for the abuse included "problems related to training, knowledge and care technology" (65.6 percent) and "care worker stress or inability to control emotions" (26.9 percent). As for the type of institution where the abuse had occurred, 30.6 percent of cases happened at special elderly nursing homes and 20.9 percent of cases were at fee-paying nursing homes.

    On the other hand, elderly abuse cases by family members or relatives increased once again. In fiscal 2015, 16,423 elderly people were on the receiving end of kin-related abuse, and 40.3 percent of these cases were carried out by sons of the victims. Reasons for family-related abuse included "fatigue and stress caused by care" (25 percent) and "disorders or illness" (23.1 percent). In addition, there were 20 cases of death caused by factors such as murder or care neglect.

    In fiscal 2015, the total number of consultations and reports relating to elderly abuse by professional care workers was 1,640. For family members or relatives, the figure was 26,688. Both these figures are record highs.

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