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.”*
(* Definition adopted from WHO Toronto Declaration on the Global Prevention of Elder Abuse)
Most people in our community value older people, recognising their contributions as family and community members, and in the work force. However, sadly abuse and neglect of elders in our community is becoming increasingly common.
Elder abuse and neglect is an umbrella term referring to a range of harms that may take place in the home, in the community, in residential care facilities and in hospitals. Elder abuse and neglect often stems from attitudes that are ageist and disrespectful of older people.
Elder Abuse can mean:
- financial/property abuse
- physical abuse
- emotional abuse
- sexual abuse
- institutional abuse
- Many older people can be subjected to multiple forms of abuse. Not all abuse and neglect is obvious or visible, meaning that problems can go undetected, unreported and un-addressed for long periods.
Some of the factors that increase the likelihood of abuse are:
- social isolation
- family conflict
- inadequate caregiving skills
- growing dependency of the older person for support
Warning Signs of Elder Abuse*
The following signs MAY indicate an older person is being abused:
- unexplained behaviour, sleeping or eating habits
- withdrawal and/or edginess
- fear of a particular person
- unexplained injuries
- drowsiness (due to over-medication)
- recoiling from touch
- unusual withdrawals from bank accounts
- unpaid bills, lack of money for necessities
* Source: Age Concern NZ Website
Elder Protection Services in South Canterbury
The Family Works South Canterbury Elder Protection Service is a free and confidential service providing advice, advocacy and support to resolve abuse and neglect impacting on older people.
The service supports the older person to make informed decisions, working collaboratively with families and services in the community to reduce or resolve abuse and neglect issues. The Elder Protection Service is available to older people, their families/whanau and/or significant others.
As well as working with older people, their whanau and in-home carers, the Elder Protection Service provides education and training for staff working with older people and also provides public awareness sessions for families and community groups who have an interest in the well-being of older people.
More Information from Age Concern NZ