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Speak out to prevent elder abuse

Speak out to prevent elder abuse
Elder Protection Co-ordinator David Lloyd

Last Updated: June 2015

Advocates for violent-free communities say abuse thrives in silence – and there’s lots of simple ways to speak out.

The Elder Protection Service at Tui Ora and Taranaki Safe Families Trust have joined forces to promote World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15. A free seminar is being held in South Taranaki with former senior police detective Grant Coward the guest speaker.

Callum Williamson, Taranaki Safe Families Trust co-ordinator, says figures indicate that over half the calls to the New Plymouth police are domestic violence related. However, it’s likely that many more incidents of abuse go unreported. And for elderly victims the figures are likely to be worse.

“No one wants to hurt their own family but the reality is, a lot of hurt and harm comes from family members.”

The best words to use for a neighbour, friend or relative who might be the victim of abuse are as simple as saying Are you Ok? he says.

David Lloyd, of Tui Ora, says the local Elder Protection Service is free and confidential, although it’s not a crisis intervention service and anyone in immediate risk should seek police help.

“Don’t be afraid and think you are meddling in someone else’s life. Don’t be afraid to contact our services and ask for advice.”

Mr Lloyd says he receives at least one referral a week and all the cases he’s dealt with since starting in the job in March were family members, with the abuse centred on financial issues.

“But 99 per cent of the time they don’t want any action to be taken. They know it’s not right but because it’s a family member they live with it.”

One area he’s working in is educating rest home staff and managers. Good procedures in the aged care sector are evident and it’s not hidden like it might once have been. But staff in resthomes might be witness to visiting family taking advantage of or abusing elderly parents, he says. “When people go into a rest home the abuse might not stop and staff who hear or see things need to know what to do.”

One way older people could protect themselves is through Enduring Power of Attorney. “You need to make sure you have the right person so we recommend having two people, someone for your property and someone for your health and wellbeing. Those two people need to communicate and it doesn’t vest too much power in the one hands.”

It’s best to have the legal documentation drawn up when someone is feeling well and in the right mind. 

“Don’t wait until you are in hospital and the doctor needs consent for a procedure because often it’s too late then and they might get the wrong person.”

Those unable to afford services can contact the Taranaki Commmunity Law Trust, which runs clinics around Taranaki.

For more information please contact:

David Lloyd, Elder Protection Service coordinator, 06 759 4064, david.lloyd@tuiora.co.nz

Callum Williamson, Taranaki Safe Families Trust coordinator, 06 759 1492, tsft@xtra.co.nz

Notes to media:

  • Elder Abuse Awareness Day is marked around New Zealand on June 15.
  • The free seminar on Monday June 15 is at the South Taranaki District Council community centre in Albion St, Hawera.
  • It runs from 1.30-3.30pm and all are welcome.
  • For information or to RSVP contact 06 759 4064 or 0800 0800 47 or reception@tuiora.co.nz
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