Elderly forced to ask for help

22:05, Apr 22 2014
Two hundred and twenty referrals to Age Concern in Southland for year ending June 2013.

Poll: More than twice as many elderly southerners are putting their hands out for help as rising living costs bite the region's most vulnerable.

Age Concern Southland manager Janette Turner said referrals to her organisation had more than doubled in a year, from 96 for the year ending June 2012, to 220 at the same time last year.

Of those, 100 were for psychological and financial abuse. Another 90 were referred because of financial, family or social isolation issues.

Thirteen were referred because of physical abuse, while 17 were referred because of self-neglect.

As well as support services, the organisation offered $9 three-course meals to clients four days a week but some people, mostly pensioners living alone, could only afford one of those a week, she said.

The number of people being referred by Age Concern to get food parcels had also increased, from "one or two" this time last year to six so far this year.


Those people were embarrassed and some had refused help from foodbanks because they were proud, had worked hard and valued their independence, she said. She attributed the rise in numbers togreater awareness of the services available in Southland.

Pensioners were struggling because medical bills, food, power and rent had all gone up, she said.

"There's not a lot left by the time they've paid rent and power."

The superannuation gross married rate is $638.46 a week or $564.52 after tax and the gross rate for single pensioners living alone is $421.76 or $366.94 after tax.

Unless changes in costs for pensioners were made, demand for support services would continue to increase, she said.

Changes could include rent reductions for the elderly and power rebates. More volunteer visitors for isolated elderly people were also needed, she said.

People also needed to be more aware that superannuation over the age of 65 was an entitlement.

Grey Power has a deal with Pulse Energy that allows its members to receive lower electricity prices. 


The Southland Times