Today marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day which is celebrated annually on June 15. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of elder abuse and is formally recognised by the United Nations.
This year the United Nations theme for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is “Access to Justice.” Access to justice might be diminished through the increasing prevalence of online services (digital exclusion), practical difficulties in accessing services, entrenched beliefs, delays, and discrimination. Elderly people may also be more vulnerable to abuse if they are dependent on others.
Elder abuse is a global issue that comes in many forms. A large amount of elder abuse goes unreported, it is estimated that in New Zealand approximately 1 in 10 people over 65 are subject to some form of abuse. That abuse is often by a family member (and frequently the abuser is a child if the victim).
One measure you can take to protect yourself, loved ones, friends, and whanau from this type of abuse is by ensuring there are Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) in place. Many people assume that if they lose the ability to make decisions for themselves, their partner or a close relative will legally be able to make decisions for them. In fact, the law doesn’t work like that.
Have a conversation about how you can make an enduring power of attorney to appoint a trusted person or organisation to manage your affairs if you are unable to do so. You can also provide for consultation and oversight when setting up an EPA. An EPAs are legal documents that allow you and your loved ones to plan for the future.
At Trustees Executors, we believe that elderly people are an important part of our community and should be respected. In some instances, elderly people may need special protection. Trustees Executors is in a privileged position to detect and prevent undue influence, financial exploitation, and elder abuse. Talk to us about how we can protect you and your loved ones from elder abuse.
You can also help by knowing the signs of abuse and by reporting any suspicions.
Know the signs
Elder abuse and neglect involve the violation of human rights and causes physical and mental injury and illness, damages financial and material security, and can lead to isolation, loss of self-confidence and despair. Elder abuse can happen to any older person by a loved one, caregiver, or stranger.
There are many types of abuse, here are some of the signs to watch out for:
- Seems depressed, confused or withdrawn
- Isolated from friends and family
- Unexplained bruises or preventable conditions
- Recent changes in banking or spending patterns
What you can do
There are many ways you can protect elderly people from abuse:
- Have regular open conversations about financial matters with the person you are helping
- Assist in setting up account alerts
- Consider setting up Enduring Powers of Attorney
- Consider who has access to the person’s accounts
- Learn about common financial exploitation schemes and scams that elderly people are vulnerable to and educate the person you are helping
If you suspect and an older person is not being treated well or want to report abuse, please call either the Ministry of Social Development’s Super Seniors elder abuse helpline on 0800 32 668 65 or freephone Age Concern 0800 65 2 105 for free and confidential support.