ABUSE of the elderly is the "hidden relative" of child abuse, it is claimed.
Labour MP David Hinchliffe was today leading a bid to uncover the extent of the problem.
The Wakefield MP was chairing a Commons health committee probe into the abuse of elderly people by family, friends and care workers.
The Commons health committee was holding its first evidence session in its inquiry into elder abuse which aims to find out how widespread the problem has become.
It was set to hear from witnesses from charities, including Gary Fitzgerald of Action on Elder Abuse, and Tessa Harding from Help the Aged.
Members will also hear from health professionals including Frank Ursell, of the Registered Nursing Home Association and Nadra Ahmed, chairman of the National Care Homes Association.
During its inquiry the committee will look at what types of abuse are most common and what can be done to protect older people both at home and in care.
The committee will examine what systems are in place to detect abuse and whether older people can be encouraged to come forward and report incidents.
Factors such as age, illness, race and gender will also be considered to try to find out what triggers abuse.
Help The Aged policy manager Jonathan Ellis said: "Elder abuse is the hidden relative of child abuse.
"But the scale of this problem all too often goes unrecognised.
"We hope that this inquiry will reveal the true extent of the problem and provide a framework to put a stop to this scandalous treatment of our elderly."