Support vulnerable elders
The Mental Health Foundation is encouraging all Kiwis to support World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Saturday.
Elderly people are much more vulnerable than many believe, mental health promoter for older people Marie Hull-Brown, 86, says.
While the media often focus on elder abuse in rest homes and hospitals, abuse can take many forms such as using older people’s money without consent, infantilising older people or trying to control their decisions about where they live, where they go and who they talk to.
‘‘Often it goes on right under our noses and nobody is aware of it,’’ Ms Hull-Brown says.
She advises not to ignore unexpected changes in an elderly person’s life such as a child or grandchild moving in with them.
‘‘Find an excuse to have a private chat with them to see how they really feel about it.’’
Since an amendment to the Crimes Act in 2012, it is an offence to fail to report suspected abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult. The foundation reminds Kiwis that they can do much to support elderly people, such as popping in to visit, respecting their wishes and decisions even if they may not agree, and supporting them to keep in touch with those who are important to them.
To celebrate the event the Sky Tower and Auckland Town Hall will be lit purple on Saturday night.
Ms Hull-Brown will also be dedicating two episodes of her radio show The Vintage Years on Planet FM to the issue.