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Elder abuse a national problem says local service

Elder abuse a national problem says local service

It is time to put an end to elder abuse in our community. It is not okay to abuse or neglect vulnerable elderly people and there are no excuses, says the Elder Protection Service at Tui Ora.

Sunday June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the international campaign to raise awareness and promote work to prevent elder abuse and neglect.

Catherine Quin, solicitor and chair of the Taranaki Elder Abuse advisory panel, says it is vital people speak out and a phone call to the local service is an important first step.

“Don't let fear of meddling in someone else's business stop you from voicing your concern. It is time to stop elder abuse in our communities and if we all pull together we can achieve this.”

Mrs Quin deals first hand with cases of elder abuse. Unfortunately, family members are often the ‘abusers’, sometimes because of a lack of knowledge or an understanding of an elderly person’s rights. Some adults put their interest and wishes ahead of those of their parents, she says.

On Friday June 13, the Elder Protection Service is holding a free seminar at the New Plymouth District Council. Former senior detective Grant Coward, now a New Plymouth District councillor, will offer insights into his previous work. The seminar from 10-12noon will also present an overview of elder abuse, how we can prevent it and provide information on how and where to get help.

Elaine Mossop, co-ordinator of the Elder Protection Service, says she’s often saddened by the lack of respect given to the elderly. Sometimes, they are pressured into doing things like giving a loan, selling their house or letting a family member move in with them for free.

“Elderly are living longer, but not necessarily better. They need to be valued and included in all discussions regarding their health, wellbeing and personal affairs.”

Ms Mossop says there are a consistent number of cases reported in Taranaki each year, with about 66 this year and 68 the year before. Sixty five percent of cases reported were substantiated, she says.

While numbers are consistent, the complexity of reported cases is on the rise. “Elder abuse is under reported and the true extent of it is both unknown and under estimated,” she says.

Much of her role centres on co-ordinating services for elderly and their whanau, on educating individuals and organisations and, if needed, making referrals to police, solicitors or other appropriate social services.

Nationally, Age Concern reports elder abuse and neglect prevention services receive an average of 8 calls per day and in about three quarters of cases, abuse or neglect is confirmed.

The most common types are financial and psychological abuse.


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