Elders need care, not abuse

New Zealand marked Age Concern Week from September 25 to October 3.

I visited Age Concern in Manukau to mark the event.

One of the issues that senior citizens often raise with me is the ‘Silent Shame’ of elder abuse. I am increasingly becoming aware of awful situations in rest homes and domestic residences.

I am appalled to find that in many cases the abusers are family members or paid carers. It is clear that many of our older citizens, who have contributed so much to the society over their years, are now vulnerable to undue influence from others.

Abuse takes many forms; sickening physical blows are the most obvious, but we constantly hear of old folk being bullied out of their money, neglected with few or no visitors, or having their bank accounts illegally accessed by so-called kind shoppers.

Conservative estimates suggest that about 50,000 older people may be suffering from abuse, largely in silence as they have no voice.

Elder abuse and neglect professional adviser Jayne McKendry recently reported that while workers in her profession respond on average to at least two cases each day, most abuse continues to go unreported.

This is a sobering fact.

There is obviously some serious work to be done in this area to address this Silent Shame.

I would like to see the option of empowering Age Concern to intervene in these investigated cases.

If it is possible, this could work the same way as the Child Youth and Family section of the Social Development Ministry is able to intervene where children are at risk.

Ross Robertson is elected Member of Parliament from the Manukau East Constituency. He is Labour Party’s Spokesman for the Senior Citizens. Phone: (04) 471 9873 or 0274-923 245

Email: ross.robertson@parliament.govt.nz

Elders need respect and care, like they get at Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust, Auckland. Project Manager Indu Bajaj is at the extreme right. (Indian Newslink file photo)

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