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THL: Elderly suffering has often gone unrecognised during pandemic

According to Finnish health authorities, services must work harder to combat suffering among older people. 

Vanhus rollaattorin kanssa kävelemässä kohti kauppaa.
A THL survey suggests that older people have suffered during the pandemic. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Finland's national health agency THL says that older people have suffered during the pandemic, and their right to a secure and safe life has not necessarily been guaranteed.

The conclusions are based on THL's local government questionnaire, along with municipalities' Covid-19 situation reports submitted during the pandemic.

THL says that reports of concern about older people should be treated as a tool to help recognise and intervene in situations where older people are mistreated.

If an official notification of concern is filed about an older person's welfare (huoli-ilmoitus in Finnish), local authorities have a duty to respond and investigate. THL notes that these are a crucial tool, as older people often don't realise their own problems and fail to request assistance.

Finland currently lacks thorough research on mistreatment of older people, and risk factors associated with it.

Mistreatment of senior citizens can be physical or psychological violence, sexual or economic abuse and neglect of caring or assistance duties.

The THL survey found that recognition of these issues and capability to deal with them was patchy.

"Abuse of older people is often hidden from outsiders and is therefore more common than people think," said Minna-Liisa Luoma of THL in a press release.

According to THL many older people have experienced social isolation and poverty during the pandemic. They have struggled to access services, have experienced anxiety about the pandemic and have also been affected by their carers' elevated stress levels.

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