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Action on elder abuse and neglect needed – study

Action on elder abuse and neglect needed – study

26 February 2008, embargoed till 7.00am

The Families Commission gets a big tick for its new elder abuse and neglect study, out today.

That's the view from Age Concern, the country's largest provider of elder abuse and neglect prevention services.

"We welcome the new study Abuse and Neglect – exploration of risk and protective factors," says Jayne McKendry, Age Concern New Zealand's elder abuse and neglect professional adviser.

"Elder abuse is coming out from the shadows and being seen for the insidious form of family violence that it is."

"It's good to see the Families Commission talking to older people and the services that work with them, and offering ways that older people can protect themselves from elder abuse and neglect.

"The study is completely consistent with our experiences. Up to one-in-ten older people are abused and neglected – emotionally, financially, physically and sexually. Most often, it's their own families that are the abusers."

The study supports Age Concern's belief that the real root of elder abuse is society's attitudes. Too many people seem to feel that older people don't matter; they've had their day and their possessions are ripe for the picking.

"It's all about respect," Jayne McKendry says. "We agree with the solution offered in the study – helping to empower older people so they can stand up for their rights. We echo the study's call for a national campaign to work on society's terrible attitudes to older people.

"The researchers recommend increased funding for support services and it's good to see some activity already. Government is getting behind older people with the Prime Minister's recent Pathways to Partnership announcement that recognises elder abuse and neglect prevention as an essential service deserving full funding.

"However, this new funding will not address the needs identified - there are still gaps in service provision. It's a scandal that older people in some regions aren't able to get help quickly because they don't have direct access to an abuse prevention service, and the underlying resourcing issues in residential care facilities are absolutely appalling.

"We'll be working with the Families Commission to ensure elder abuse and neglect gets attention as part of the Campaign for Action Against Family Violence."


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