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Elder Abuse Awareness Day promotes wellbeing of older people

Elder Abuse Awareness Day promotes wellbeing of older people

10 June 2014

World Elder Abuse Awareness day is being held on 15 June as a reminder to our communities to consider the needs of older people. Promoting the wellbeing, rights and respect and dignity for all is the focus for this day.

MidCentral DHB Portfolio Manager, Health of Older Persons Jo Smith says much of the elder abuse that goes on in communities is under reported.

“We have got to get better at recognising the signs and supporting people to talk to someone they trust.”

Elder abuse occurs in many different settings, including private homes, residential care and hospitals. Older people who experience abuse are less able to remain active, contributing members of the community. This impacts on peoples’ physical and mental health, finances, living arrangements and family relations and supports. Healthcare providers and social services are increasingly recognised as key players in New Zealand’s effort to eliminate all forms of family violence.

Ms Smith said: “Family violence is unacceptable, we need commitment by all healthcare providers and community members to work together to make a difference in identifying abuse and providing support to those who have experienced abuse.”

Much has been done to improve the access to information on abuse and neglect including nationally, the development of elder abuse guidelines released in 2007. These guidelines are a practical way to assist health services to make safe and effective interventions that will assist those experiencing elder abuse or neglect.

Locally, the DHB sponsored a symposium in March that attracted significant numbers of health professionals and support workers to hear talks around the subject of elder abuse and neglect. A MidCentral Health lead clinician gave a very grim and real example of the extent of abuse through one patient’s journey, bringing to life the tragedy of such experiences and the importance of vigilance and support to our communities.

There are five commonly identified categories of elder abuse, these: are physical and sexual abuse, psychological/emotional abuse, financial/material abuse, and neglect.

If people are concerned that they know someone who could be experiencing abuse or neglect they should contact their local Age Concern offices. In the Horowhenua district the contact details are 538 Queen Street, Levin or phone 06 3672181; and in Palmerston North, the Age Concern office is located in Waldegrave Street, appointments can be made by calling (06) 355 2832; 027 356 0510; or emailing


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