New Zealand marks International Day of Older Persons

Maggie Barry

Wellington, October 1, 2017

I welcome the United Nation’s International Day of Older Persons being marked around the world today.

The theme of this year’s International Day is ‘Stepping into the Future’: tapping the talents, contributions and participation of Older Persons.

Visibility and Recognition

International Day of Older Persons gives visibility and recognition to the many seniors who are living meaningful and vital lives, contributing as workers, employers, volunteers, parents and grandparents.

By 2036, up to 24% of New Zealanders will be over 65 – we will have nearly a quarter of the population with a wealth of skills and experience that we can tap in to, who will help to positively shape the future of our country.

We have already piloted three UN Age Friendly Community initiatives around New Zealand to promote positive aging and social inclusion.

SuperSenior Champions

We also have a group of SuperSenior Champions – articulate older Kiwis led by Patron Sir Peter Snell – who raise awareness on how important older people are in our lives and talk about issues that affect Seniors, including elder abuse.”

Over 2000 cases of elder abuse are reported each year but the majority goes unreported. It’s believed up to 10 per cent of seniors experience some form of abuse and three quarters is carried out by family members.

Launch of EARS

Earlier this year, I launched new re-prioritised Elder Abuse Response Services.

EARS is designed for real action on elder abuse, getting older people the help they need, quickly, effectively and safely.

Part of this new approach is a free and confidential 24/7 help-line 0800-3266865 (0800 EA NOT OK) and there has been a steady stream of calls to it since July 1, 2017.

All calls are answered by a registered nurse who refers people to expert help, including for financial abuse.

We are also in discussions with the Commission for Financial Capability about running a series of seminars to help Seniors with money matters.

Tackling elder abuse and ageism will help create an environment where the rights of older people are recognised and supported so Seniors can age positively in their own communities.

Maggie Barry is Seniors Minister of New Zealand.

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