Monday, June 24, 2024

Preventing elder abuse – how we can all play our part

The United Nations recognises 15 June as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Office for Seniors marks this event to raise awareness about elder abuse and publicise the range of resources and services available to ensure older people can live safe and dignified lives.

The World Health Organization defines elder abuse as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship, where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”
Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.

The Office for Seniors is committed to informing New Zealanders about elder abuse and promoting the Ministry for Social Development funded Elder Abuse Response Service (EARS). This service includes a 24/7 helpline providing support and access to confidential advice.

The Director of the Office for Seniors, Diane Turner said “Elder abuse is preventable, and we all have a role to play in ensuring that older people live well, with respect and dignity.

“Grey Power plays a critical role in society by sharing information on the signs of elder abuse with its members and their whānau.

“This civic leadership ensures that people know what to look for and where to go if they think that anyone is at risk. It also gives them the confidence and support to act on any signs or concerns of elder abuse amongst members.

“I know from personal experience that Grey Power members tend to be active and engaged advocates for older people in their local community. Your personal networks are of tremendous value in also helping to challenge ageist attitudes, such as older people being viewed as a burden or not contributing to society.

“These attitudes make elder abuse far easier to carry out, so anything you can do to stop this last socially acceptable prejudice is valuable.”

If you suspect that an older person you know is being abused, if you want to talk about your concerns, or if you yourself are experiencing abuse then the EARS helpline is available 24/7 on 0800 32 6 68 65, text 5032 or email

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