Comic Relief is funding a major piece of research examining the prevalence of elder abuse across the UK.
The charity is putting £350,000 towards the study, with a further £250,000 coming from the Department of Health.
It is the first time the charity has funded a UK-wide prevalence study - its research grants usually go to smaller projects within wider funding bids. It signals that elder abuse is to grow in importance as an area of work for Comic Relief.
Elder abuse was a key issue for Red Nose Day last year, and the charity has been working with organisations including Age Concern, Help the Aged and Action on Elder Abuse. All agree that establishing up-to-date figures on elder abuse is a priority.
The research, to be carried out by the National Centre for Social Research and King's College, London, will look into a number of issues including prevalence, risk factors, what makes people vulnerable and the barriers to reporting abuse.
Preliminary findings from the study are expected in January 2007, with the final report out six months later.
The research is one of a package of measures that Comic Relief is undertaking to address the issue.