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Age Concern: Stop Abuse, Stop Ageism

Age Concern Media release

18 November 2009

Age Concern believes that elder abuse and neglect has its roots in ageism and lack of respect for older people.

"Elder abuse is not okay whether it's in a resthome or someone's own home, and we all have the ability to do something about it.

"If you're an older person facing abuse or someone who suspects it's happening, you can help stop it," Age Concern New Zealand elder abuse and neglect prevention spokesperson Jayne McKendry says.

"If you see something that's not right, our message is to speak up. If you suspect elder abuse in a rest home talk to the rest home manager, or Age Concern, your district health board's funding and planning manager, or the Ministry of Health's HealthCert team.

But there is one important proviso, Jayne McKendry warns.

"The rights of the older person must be everyone's central concern."

"This includes their right to privacy."

"It's important to involve the older person. If you want to complain on their behalf, you should have their permission. If they're not competent to give this, find out who they have given their Enduring Power of Attorney to."

Every day, at least two more cases of abuse or neglect of older people are uncovered by Age Concern Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Services, and they know that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Age Concern says all the types of elder abuse seen in the wider community can occur in some resthomes. This includes psychological, financial, physical and sexual abuse, and neglect.

In addition institutional abuse, where accepted policies or practices disregard older people's rights or cause them harm, can happen in resthomes. Examples include inflexible routines, inadequate staffing levels, leaving people unattended on a toilet for over 30 minutes, and poor food selection or nutrition.


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