Rising costs lead to elder abuse
An 86-year-old woman whose son got violent when he drank, a father who was kicked out of his own house by his adult son, and a woman in a rest home whose false teeth had not been removed for six years, are all real cases of elder abuse on the North Shore.
Nationally, Age Concern received 2000 referrals of elder abuse each year, including financial, psychological and physical abuse.
Age Concern North Shore hoped to raise awareness about elder abuse and encourage people to speak up about it.
Social worker Alison Bravenboer said elderly people were vulnerable to abuse because of physical frailty, isolation and poverty.
A lack of accommodation on the Shore often meant elderly people were putting up with their adult children abusing the privilege of living with them, because there was nowhere else for them to go, she said.
Bravenboer gave the example of an 86-year-old woman who accepted her son back into her house after his marriage split up.
However, the man had an alcohol abuse problem and got violent when he was drunk. The incidents escalated to the woman having a car door slammed on her.
In another example, while an older man was recovering from a hip operation, his son moved into the father’s house with his wife and two children, renting out their own home.
When the father was ready to come back home, the son refused to let him back, saying he was too unwell.
In that case, Age Concern North Shore was able to intervene, shaming the son into letting the father back into his home, Bravenboer said.
Another social worker, Jane Lai, encouraged people to get legal advice before agreeing to any financial arrangements. And those who did not speak English well needed a translator, so they understood everything.
North Shore Age Concern was marking World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, with an information kiosk in Milford Mall.
Lai hoped the awareness day would encourage everyone on the Shore to look out for their elderly parents, friends and neighbours, and look for any signs of depression or withdrawal.
‘‘You can always ask, ‘What’s happening?’ Maybe it’s abuse.’’’
Age Concern North Shore social workers Alison Bravenboer and Jane Lai are concerned about elder abuse on the Shore.