Raising Awareness of Elder Abuse

  • Hon Tracey Martin

The banking sector and interest groups for seniors have committed to raising awareness of the issue of elder abuse and financial abuse at an event marking Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Seniors Minister Tracey Martin hosted the event at Parliament which launched a new booklet on financial abuse of seniors.

“New Zealanders need more information about how wide-ranging elder abuse is and how to spot potential signs of abuse,” says Minister Martin.

Ministry of Social Development data shows that one in 10 older people suffer some form of abuse and most cases are not reported. Of reported cases, more than half involve financial abuse.

“Abuse is often hidden, with abusers most commonly being family members, friends or even neighbours,” says Minister Martin.

“Financial abuse in particular can be really broad, it could be a caregiver stealing from a grandparent’s purse or even a daughter pressuring her elderly mother to give away property.

“People need to be aware of this issue, to think about the behaviour around them, and for seniors and others to know what to do if they see or suspect elder abuse.”

Over the last two weeks 164 undercover crosswords highlighting elder abuse have been placed in 20 daily and community newspapers throughout New Zealand as a means of reaching the people most at risk.

Each crossword included a question describing a form of elder abuse.  For each question, “abuse” was the answer and a message underneath encouraged people concerned about elder abuse to call the Elder Abuse helpline (0800 32 668 65).

Minister Martin said the crosswords helped reach people most at risk, and were an innovative way of raising public awareness of elder abuse.

“These undercover crosswords are a safe way to educate the elderly on what constitutes abuse and empower them to get help, even if their abuser is close by. Through the crosswords, we expect our message will reach more than half of all people over 65 in New Zealand, many who may not be aware they are being abused or don’t know where to turn to for help”.

Anyone concerned about how a person is being treated can call 0800 EA NOT OK (0800 32 668 65).

For more information on elder abuse and the Elder Abuse Response Service visit superseniors.msd.govt.nz


 Contact Richard Ninness 029 235 0423

 Note for editors:

 About elder abuse:

  • One in 10 seniors (65+) experience some form of abuse in their lifetime
  • As many as three out of four of cases are unreported
  • More than 75% of abusers are family members

Elder abuse can be emotional, physical, or financial and signs of elder abuse may include:

  • Fear of a particular person or people
  • Worry, anxiety or irritability
  • Depression or withdrawal
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Reluctance to talk openly, or others speaking for them.