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A day to remember our duty to look after our senior citizens

This Wednesday – a day to remember our duty to look after our senior citizens

Human Rights Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue says International Day of the Older Person (1 October) is a United Nations day to celebrate our senior citizens, but also acknowledge the need to protect our kaumatua, or older people from abuse and neglect.

Statistics New Zealand estimates the proportion of New Zealanders being over 65 years climbing from 14 percent up to 23 percent by 2036, and up to 26 percent in 2061.

“From a human rights perspective, clearly local and central government policy development must include specific consideration of our ageing population and their right to a decent standard of living and protection from harm,” Dr Blue said.

“Over 21 percent of over 65 year olds continue to work. Over 30 percent are volunteers, and the majority live independent productive lives. While clearly our senior citizens are valuable contributors to our society and economy, sadly, elder abuse in New Zealand is a growing and serious concern.

“Seventy five percent of abuse of elderly people comes from a family member and can range from neglect, physical and psychological abuse, to financial abuse. Like family violence, there is often deep shame by the victim in admitting what is happening, particularly when it is financial abuse by a family member.

“Our older citizens are often so trusting but can be taken advantage of. Today we ask New Zealanders to check-in on the older ones in the neighbourhood and not assume that they are living in an abuse free environment,” Dr Blue said.

Dr Jackie Blue is leading the Human Rights Commission’s work on violence and abuse. The Commission supports the work of Age Concern. Anyone can contact them on (04) 801 9338 about their own wellbeing as an older person, or if they are concerned about an older person’s wellbeing.


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