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Age Concern NZ: Just say 'no' to gifts

13 November 2006

Age Concern New Zealand

Just say 'no' to gifts

Age Concern New Zealand is concerned at reports of another alleged case of financial abuse of older people, this time by a paid caregiver.

Chief executive Ann Martin says, "We can't comment on a case that's proceeding in the Employment Relations Authority, and possibly the courts, but elder financial abuse is happening too often.

"Analysis of the cases reported to us suggests at least two more older New Zealanders are abused each week -and we suspect that's just the tip of the iceberg. Around 40 percent of this is financial abuse.

"Anyone working with older people needs to be careful to respect their personal finances, as there's a real power imbalance between older people and their carers.

"We know that some older people can be generous with gifts and money. Our advice to caregivers is to always say no - anything else isn't fair to the older person and it's not fair to you."

"It's also vital that employers have crystal clear policies and procedures limiting gifts and involvement with older people's finances.

"Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Services, operated by Age Concern councils in many parts of the country, work as advocates in cases like this, standing alongside older people and making sure their voice is heard.

"We applaud the Employment Relations Authority's decision that says, in part, 'where workers are caring in an unsupervised environment, for some of the most vulnerable members of society, the highest degree of trust is required.' We couldn't have put it better ourselves," Ann Martin said.

ENDS

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