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Elder Abuse Awareness Day – 15 June

Media release

Elder Abuse Awareness Day – 15 June

The Families Commission is announcing that it has committed resources for research on elder abuse and neglect.

Tomorrow (June 15) is Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Little is known about the extent and impact of this type of family violence in New Zealand. Like other family violence, elder abuse, including financial and psychological abuse, is generally hidden from public view. Older people who experience abuse are often frail and dependent on their families or caregivers, and as a result can be reluctant to make reports.

Families Commission Chief Commissioner Rajen Prasad says “It is very disturbing to hear of family members or caregivers bullying, manipulating, exploiting and injuring elderly relatives. This form of family violence is being increasingly recognised and identified as a problem.

“The Commission is planning research that will improve our understanding and provide information on appropriate and effective prevention strategies. We will be working with Age Concern and other key agencies to identify the most urgent research priorities and determine the exact nature of the project to be undertaken by the Commission.”

Last year the Commission published its report on family violence Beyond Zero Tolerance – Key issues and future directions for family violence work in New Zealand by researcher Janet Fanslow which noted that international studies suggest that between 2 and 10 percent of people over 65 may experience abuse.

Age Concern, which has carried out studies on cases that have been referred to its abuse and neglect prevention service, has found that 59 percent of cases involved psychological abuse, followed by material/financial abuse (42 percent) and physical abuse (12 percent). In most cases family members were the abusers.

A review of research literature on elder abuse by the Ministry of Social Development noted that it was generally accepted that official agencies may be informed about the most visible and obvious types of abuse and/or neglect, but that many other incidents remained unidentified and unreported. It also noted that like elder abuse and/or neglect in private settings, there was limited evidence on elder mistreatment in residential care settings and that more work was needed to understand and prevent abuse.


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