INDEPENDENT NEWS

Age Concern New Zealand Want Us All To Know How To “Spot The Signs” Of Elder Abuse

Published: Wed 12 Jun 2024 11:55 AM
As June 15 marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Age Concern New Zealand urges everyone to spot and address the pervasive issue of Elder Abuse, which is often concealed behind closed doors.
“Elder abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”
Karen Billings-Jensen, Chief Executive of Age Concern New Zealand, emphasises the urgency of this issue: "We see examples of Elder Abuse every day across our Age Concern network. I know people are spotting signs in their families and communities too, but might not be sure if it is Elder Abuse, or know what to do help."
Elder Abuse encompasses a wide range of behaviours, from financial abuse to physical harm. "Anything from secretly using mum's debit card to buy their own groceries, staying in dad's house without paying their way, to bargaining and restricting visits with grandchildren if they don’t get money," remarks Billings-Jensen.
"We also see more serious cases where the abuse is physical or doing things like restricting medication or over medicating, all putting older peoples' health at risk."
Shocking statistics reveal that approximately 1 in 10 older individuals may experience Elder Abuse, often perpetrated by family members. "If rates remain that high, the number of older people experiencing abuse is predicted to rise as our population of older people increases," warns Billings-Jensen. "We don’t want that to be our legacy in Aotearoa New Zealand."
The consequences of Elder Abuse are profound, ranging from reduced financial security, lower self-confidence and self-esteem, physical injuries, harming of social relationships to long-term psychological trauma.
Billings-Jensen emphasises, "Abuse of older people can lead to long-term psychological consequences, increased risk of early aged care admission, serious physical injuries, use of emergency services, hospitalisation, and even early death."
In light of these alarming realities, Age Concern New Zealand calls upon all of us to speak out against Elder Abuse. "If you have a gut feeling something is not right or just an inkling someone is being abused, we want you to talk to us," urges Billings-Jensen. The signs you might spot include:Malnourishment or weight lossPoor hygieneSymptoms of anxiety, depression, or confusionInjuries such as bruises, cuts, or broken bonesUnexplained transactions or loss of moneyWithdrawal from family members or friends
Age Concern are here to help - Our people are here to help. Our expert staff offer a free and confidential Elder Abuse Response Service or can put you in touch with your nearest one.
For more information on recognising the signs and addressing Elder Abuse, please visit Age Concern New Zealand's website or contact your local Age Concern on freephone 0800 65 2 105 or call the Elder Abuse Helpline on 0800 EA NOT OK (0800 32 668 65).

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