Wednesday, June 15, 2016

New Zealand: Elder abuse soars as country's vulnerable targeted

Elder abuse soars as country's vulnerable targeted

Last updated 07:00, June 15 2016
A spike in family members assaulting, neglecting or ripping off their elderly relatives has been reported in Canterbury.
Age Concern Canterbury reported a 53 per cent increase in the number of elder abuse cases from 2014 to 2015, with 187 cases last year.
As of June, the organisation was well on its way to surpassing that figure, with 10 new cases reported each week.
June 15 marks the start of Elder Abuse Awareness Week and Age Concern Canterbury has called for an end to the abuse of the country's vulnerable.
Age Concern Canterbury social worker Trina Cox said over the last 12 months there had been noticeable growth in family violence toward elderly in Canterbury.
"What we're seeing is the physical assault of elderly."
Nationally, more than 75 per cent of elder abuse was committed by family members.
Elder abuse included psychological, financial or material abuse, physical and sexual abuse, neglect and institutional abuse.
A "real spike" in the financial abuse of elderly at the hands of family members had been reported in Christchurch.
It ranged from "low level" abuse, where family members might use eftpos cards to buy a few extra personal grocery items, to "serious abuse" where lifesavings were wiped out.
Cox said they had dealt with several cases where people had been visited by debt collection agencies for unpaid bills that their families were in charge of, or had incurred by making purchases and putting accounts under the older person's name.
In one instance, a person assisted an elderly woman to buy her groceries, and the man took money from her account.
He used the money to buy his own groceries and when Age Concern found the elderly woman, "she had so little food in her house, she was malnourished".
"She had no idea that he was taking money from her account," Cox said.
Half of abusers were adult children, with a 50 per cent split of male and female perpetrators.
Half of abused elderly were aged over 80.
"A lot of our clients are just as vulnerable as small children," Cox said.
Age Concern Canterbury nurse Jane Masters said the rise could be attributed to the prevalence of alcohol abuse.
Odyssey House Trust 65ALIVE nurse specialist Chris Sinclair agreed there was a link between elder abuse and addiction.
"People end up living with their families and the addiction cycle is intergenerational as well.
"We do see people who have had access to their parents funds and can end up buying some things they didn't give permission for."
Three to four years after the February 2011 earthquake, elder abuse cases rose as a result of co-habitation, and additional stresses.
Cox said that was no longer the case.
"This problem is only going to get worse as the older population increases."
Cox and Masters called for specific "safe housing" for the elderly, to get them out of situations where they were at risk.
Aviva chief executive Nicola Woodward said the agency was exploring how it could work more closely with Age Concern Canterbury to better support older people.
"Currently only a small percentage of Aviva's clients are over 65, but we are very much aware of and concerned about the significant and under-reported problem of elder abuse in our communities.
"When one family member is abused by another, often those experiencing abuse – and sometimes older people in particular – are reluctant to ask for help; in fact they may not even recognise that what they're experiencing is family violence."


Rosanna Miller

7:48 PM (10 hours ago)
I will lay my money there is more stealing by the probate court corporation agents than family members. I like how they blew over that part and labeled the family members as thieves. TRUST me these legalized criminal agents are not going to let that money just fly into family members hands without making their selves a profit too. 

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