Abuse of elderly a hidden problem

Elder abuse is unreported and the true extent of it in Taranaki is unknown and underestimated, experts say.

There were about 67 cases reported in Taranaki each year, of which 65 per cent were substantiated, Tui Ora Elder Protection Service co-ordinator Elaine Mossop said.

While numbers were consistent, the complexity of reported cases was on the rise.

Sometimes, older people were pressured into doing things like giving a loan, selling their house or letting a family member move in with them for free, she said.

"Elderly are living longer, but not necessarily better. They need to be valued and included in all discussions regarding their health, wellbeing and personal affairs."

Sunday, June 15, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, marking the international campaign to raise awareness and promote work to prevent elder abuse and neglect.

Taranaki Elder Abuse advisory panel chairwoman and solicitor Catherine Quin said it was vital people spoke out and a phone call to the local service was an important first step.

"Don't let fear of meddling in someone else's business stop you from voicing your concern.

"It is time to stop elder abuse in our communities and if we all pull together we can achieve this."

Family members are often the abusers, sometimes because of a lack of knowledge or understanding of an elderly person's rights, she said.

"Some adults put their interest and wishes ahead of those of their parents."

On Friday, June 13, the Elder Protection Service is holding a free seminar at the New Plymouth District Council for two hours from 10am.

Former senior detective Grant Coward, now a New Plymouth District councillor, will be the guest speaker. There will also be an overview of elder abuse, how it can be prevented and information will be provided on how and where to get help.

Taranaki Daily News