Age Con­cern fight­ing back against growth of el­der abuse

Waitaki Herald - - ADVERTISING FEATURE -

Just like our ter­ri­ble child abuse fig­ures, New Zealand has shock­ing el­der abuse fig­ures and as our age­ing pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to grow, it is likely that so, too, will our el­derly abuse sta­tis­tics un­less some­thing is done to curb this hor­ren­dous prob­lem.

Dur­ing the week of June 15-22, Age Con­cern branches around New Zealand will be hold­ing events and speak­ing through the media to raise aware­ness of el­der abuse and ne­glect.

Ev­ery year, thou­sands of older New Zealan­ders are be­ing abused and as a com­mu­nity it is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that older peo­ple are al­ways re­spected and cared for and never abused.

With this year mark­ing the 10th an­niver­sary of World El­der Abuse Aware­ness Day, it is time to make a na­tion­wide com­mit­ment to work harder to pre­vent all types of el­der abuse from poi­son­ing our so­ci­ety.

What is el­der abuse?

El­der abuse and ne­glect is a sin­gle or re­peated act, or lack of ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion, oc­cur­ring within any re­la­tion­ship where there is an ex­pec­ta­tion of trust, which causes harm or dis­tress to an older per­son.

Com­monly, sev­eral types of abuse oc­cur to­gether. The types of abuse in­clude:

psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse, which in­volves be­hav­iour caus­ing men­tal an­guish, stress or fear;

fi­nan­cial abuse in­volv­ing Illegal or im­proper use of money, prop­erty or other as­sets;

phys­i­cal abuse with the in­flic­tion of pain, in­jury or use of force;

ne­glect by not pro­vid­ing for phys­i­cal, emo­tional or so­cial needs;

sex­ual abuse us­ing non-con­sen­sual sex­ual acts or ex­ploitive be­hav­iours; and,

in­sti­tu­tional abuse in­volv­ing a pol­icy or ac­cepted prac­tice within an or­gan­i­sa­tion that dis­re­gards a per­son’s rights or causes harm.

The ef­fects of el­der abuse.

The per­sonal losses as­so­ci­ated with abuse can be dev­as­tat­ing and in­clude the loss of in­de­pen­dence, homes, life sav­ings, health, dig­nity and se­cu­rity.

More than half the older peo­ple who are re­ferred to Age Con­cern’s El­der Abuse and Ne­glect Preven­tion Ser­vices suf­fer de­bil­i­tat­ing long-term health prob­lems such as de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety dis­or­ders, loss of self­es­teem and ex­ac­er­ba­tion of chronic health con­di­tions, as a di­rect re­sult of el­der abuse.

El­der abuse also dam­ages fam­ily re­la­tion­ships caus­ing iso­la­tion and lone­li­ness, grief and great sad­ness to the older per­son. Fi­nan­cial abuse can erode as­sets and sav­ings so that the older per­son may find it dif­fi­cult to buy es­sen­tial med­i­ca­tions, or pay for healthcare. They may not be able to pay bills and may even lose their home and pos­ses­sions.

Older peo­ple who have been abused lose their abil­ity to live in­de­pen­dently and re­quire on­go­ing sup­port from the health sec­tor, or residential care.

Alarm­ing Sta­tis­tics

Al­most half of abused older peo­ple are over the age of 80.

One-third of abused older peo­ple live alone.

Three-quar­ters of al­leged abusers are fam­ily mem­bers; and we know this of­ten con­tin­ues even when the older per­son moves to residential care.

Al­most half of al­leged abusers are adult chil­dren. Abusers are as likely to be fe­male as male. As a so­ci­ety, we have the power to change these sta­tis­tics and help en­sure our older peo­ple get the care, re­spect and dig­nity they de­serve.

If you sus­pect an el­derly per­son you know is be­ing abused in some way, then it is time to take ac­tion. There are plenty of peo­ple to talk your con­cerns through with in­clud­ing your Aged Con­cern branch, the po­lice or other com­mu­nity health providers.

See agecon­cern.org.nz for more in­for­ma­tion.

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