Family members inflict most elderly abuse
Friday 17 Jun 2011 5:28 p.m.
Age Concern field more than 1000 cases of elderly abuse each year in New Zealand (Reuters)
By Nick Baker
Most cases of elderly abuse are inflicted by family members, a recent report has revealed.
More than 1000 cases of elder abuse a year are received by Age Concern, although the organisation says this is “just the tip of the iceberg”.
The Age Concern elder abuse and neglect prevention services receive an average of four calls a day around the country about older people who may be abused or neglected.
Their report shows that in 70-80 percent of the cases they receive, abuse occurs at the hands of family members.
Age Concern New Zealand spokesperson Jayne McKendry says that this is why so many instances of elderly abuse are not reported.
“Many older people feel ashamed about their own flesh and blood treating them so badly, so they won’t talk about it,” she says.
“We know it’s really hard for older people to ask for help; it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Statistics from the report reveal psychological abuse occurs in almost two-thirds of the cases they receive, while financial abuse is prevalent in nearly 50 percent of abuse cases.
Instances of neglect, physical abuse and even sexual abuse have also been reported.
Older women are most vulnerable to suffer abuse and almost half of the victims lived alone at the time of the mistreatment, the report says.
International research estimates that up to 10 percent of the older population will experience some form of abuse or neglect.
The report coincides with the sixth international campaign to raise awareness of elder abuse and neglect.
A case study from the report by Age Concern says a 76-year-old man was forced to move out of his home due to a mortgagee sale after he loaned his son a large sum of money that was never repaid.
The organisation managed to suspend the house sale and locate suitable accommodation in a nearby retirement village for the very “relieved” man.
In another incident of abuse, an 83-year-old woman suffered verbal and psychological abuse from her daughter-in-law after temporarily moving in with her son’s family, following a hospital operation.
The elderly woman says her daughter-in-law refused to let her eat dinner with the family saying she ate “like a pig, dripping food everywhere”.
A coordinator from Age Concern was able to arrange a family meeting and helped the victim move to a rest home, much to the woman’s delight.
The organisation urges any older people to contact them or the police if they have been experiencing abuse or neglect.