Ris­ing costs lead to elder abuse

North Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - DENISE PIPER

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.

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