Minister for Seniors Tracey Martin has called on New Zealanders to look out for and speak out against elder abuse as part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is held on Monday, June 15, with the theme this year focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on the rights of older persons.
Minister Martin said that now, more than ever, it was important to look out for the older people around you.
“During the COVID-19 lockdown period there was an overwhelmingly positive response from individuals, groups and businesses who did a huge range of things to help older people –family, neighbours and those they’d never met before.
“Our older citizens also played their part and stayed home longer than most and they were encouraged to rely on others for help to minimise their risk of being exposed to COVID-19,” she said.
“The thing we don’t want to lose from that period is the awareness of those around us and the risks of social isolation for older people.”
Minister Martin said that social isolation was a major factor in elder abuse, which was largely a hidden crime and one that can have a devastating impact on the quality of life of the person affected.
“Most of us cherish the older people in their lives, but sadly some don’t,” Mrs Martin said.
“That means we all need to look out for signs of abuse and if you are concerned that someone is experiencing elder abuse, it’s OK to help. Something as simple as asking how you can help makes a real difference.
“This year’s Budget puts an additional $25 million over four years into specialist elder abuse response services – but the thing that will most help is that people are aware and reach out.
“World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is a day to say we won’t tolerate elder abuse,” Minister Martin said. “It is also a reminder that this is an issue that we shouldn’t just think about one day of the year.”
If you are concerned about elder abuse call the free helpline 0800 EA NOT OK (0800 32 668 65), text 5032 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Richard Ninness 021 892 536
Notes for editors:
New Zealand research suggests that in any given year more than 13,000 people will experience some form of elder abuse.
Elder abuse can be emotional, physical and financial and can have wide reaching effects on victims. It can also be unintentional – for example by a grown child deciding they know best what to do with their parents’ money or belongings.