Darryl Evans once called his elderly mother and was told he’d have to call back because she was having coffee with a salesman.
When he asked her about inviting a stranger into the house she replied: "It’s lonely being here on your own all day."
Door-to-door salesmen are a pet hate for the Mangere Budgeting Service chief executive.
It’s helped motivate his organisation’s working partnership with Age Concern Counties Manukau to prevent elder abuse.
Mr Evans says helping the elderly to avoid "being ripped off by door-to-door salespeople" is all part of teaching them budgeting skills.
Families and communities need to be more supportive of the elderly so they don’t become lonely and vunerable, he says.
"The older folk – they’re our history.
"We need to strengthen our communities."
Many companies are targeting pensioner flats, he says.
Some products being sold door-to-door in Mangere for $7500 cost just $800 in shops.
"They are targeting vulnerable pensioners at home on their own."
Mr Evans says it’s important for older people to make sure they have enough money for basics such as food and power.
With superannuation paying between $220 and $300 a week after tax the increase in living costs has a huge effect on the elderly.
"Food has gone up dramatically."
He says there’s also a huge problem with "power poverty".
"Older people worry about turning on the power, they think they can’t afford it."
He says it’s better for the elderly to turn on the power to keep warm and then payment plans can be organised.
"I don’t think any power company in New Zealand would want an old person to be cold," he says.
In the 12 months before the death of Mangere woman Folole Muliaga there had been 35,000 power disconnections in New Zealand.
But power companies, government agencies and groups like the Mangere Budgeting Service have been working together to reduce that.
"Now disconnection is in the hundreds," he says.
Mr Evans says elderly people also need to be more aware of the risks of being guarantors for loans and the pitfalls of taking on more debt.
"The old folk out here have worked so hard their whole lives and the risk of losing, say, their home is too high," he says.
Mr Evans will talk about budgeting for older people at Age Concern Counties Manukau on Thursday.
He will also give tips on funeral insurance, life insurance and cooking on a budget.
For information, phone Age Concern Counties Manukau on 279-4331 extension 800.
- Manukau Courier
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