Daugh­ter tres­passes par­ents from home

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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