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The number of elder abuse cases by relatives of the victim rose 2.1% in fiscal 2020 to a record 17,281, a welfare ministry survey showed.

The highest total since the survey's launch in fiscal 2007 apparently reflected the increased time older people spent with their families at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, with many refraining from going out and using nursing care services.

The record-breaking rise is also believed to have resulted from strengthened efforts by municipalities to uncover such abuse cases.

Meanwhile, in fiscal 2020, which ended in March 2021, the number of elderly mistreatment cases involving care facility workers fell 7.6% to 595, according to the survey released Friday. Although the total went down for the first time since the survey started, the ministry believes that restrictions on visits to care homes amid the viral spread could have made it difficult for people to become aware of the possibility of their elderly family members being abused by facility workers and that there may have been more cases of such abuse in reality.

The number of elderly people abused by family members came to 17,778. Nearly 70% of them suffered physical abuse.

Sons topped the list of offenders, at 39.9% of the total.

With multiple answers allowed, problems related to the offenders' personalities were cited by 57.9% as a cause of abuse, followed by progression of victims' dementia symptoms by 52.9% and fatigue and stress from caregiving by 50%.

The number of elderly people abused by nursing facility staff stood at 1,232, with physical abuse accounting for 52% and psychological abuse making up 26.1%.

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