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Call to help combat elder abuse

Media Release 30 June 2008

Call to help combat elder abuse

Ending elder abuse is the community's responsibility says Age Concern New Zealand.

"If people suspect older people are being abused or neglected, they need to tell someone," Age Concern chief executive Ann Martin says.

"The tradesman who first identified the gagging of a resident of an Auckland resthome last Friday did something, rather than looking the other way. He should be commended for taking action.

However, Age Concern warns that assessing elder abuse and neglect situations requires special skills and that people who work in this area are highly trained. They say it's important not to jump to conclusions and to respect the rights of older people to control their own lives, as far as they are able.

In the resthome situation the obvious person to talk to first is the manager. Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention (EANP) services, the local DHB Funding and Planning Manager, the Health and Disability Advocacy Service and the Ministry of Health are all ready to investigate suspected elder abuse and neglect.

Asking for help at any time can be especially traumatic in elder abuse and neglect situations. Older people may fear retribution or be unable to tell anyone that abuse or neglect is occurring, and families and caregivers can be reluctant or fearful, or just not aware that their actions are abusive.

Age Concern is actively involved in the prevention of elder abuse and neglect through education, advocacy and providing EANP services in 19 locations around the country.

Ann Martin says statistics show at least two older people are abused or neglected every day in New Zealand, the majority by their own family members. The abuse can be physical, psychological, financial, or sexual.

"Age Concern wants people to speak out when they have concerns. Older people have the right to be treated with respect."

ENDS

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