Daughter trespasses parents from home
working day, more than half which involve financial abuse.
‘‘One time, you could shake someone’s hand and that was an agreement,’’ the 73-year-old husband said. ‘‘These days you have to have a contract. I wasn’t brought up like that. I had been extremely proud of my daughter. Sometimes power overcomes people.’’
The couple, now based in Christchurch, haven’t spoken with their daughter since. ‘‘We just cannot believe it ... it’s very sad.’’
Abusers are usually family members, often children or grandchildren of the victim.
After an Elder Abuse Response Service was set up in July last year, there were 2100 responses in the first five months. Before that, there had been 2300 in the entire year.
And, in the lead-up to World Elder Abuse Day yesterday, the office of seniors put 10 days of undercover crosswords into newspapers around the country to raise awareness. The crosswords were discreet, in case the abusers were in the immediate environment. Each included a clue describing a different kind of elder of abuse. The answer is always ‘‘ABUSE’’, with the helpline 0800 EA NOT OK listed at the bottom. It has led to a 36 per cent increase in calls.
Hamilton Age Concern executive officer Brent Nielsen remembers the couple turfed out of their home by their daughter. It was a sad story but not uncommon, he said.
Older people tended to be more trusting, Nielsen said.
Financial abuse seemed to be driven by a sense of entitlement, he said. ‘‘Elder abuse by definition is betraying a trusted relationship.
‘‘For example, [people will] add shopping to a shopping list of an older person. Or move in and take over an older person’s home.’’
Sometimes the older person isn’t fed. ‘‘We find neglected and malnourished people.
‘‘Some of the saddest stuff we see ... is when older people are confined to their rooms.’’
It could be a harrowing job, seeing older people betrayed or manipulated by those they hold dearest, Nielsen said. But getting them out of a toxic or dangerous environment made it worthwhile every time.