Five local cases a month are reported to Age Concern Waitaki officials

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Elder abuse is a shocking reality in the Waitaki District _ and people must not turn a blind eye to it, say senior advocacy groups.

Age Concern Waitaki co-ordinator Wayne Stringer said they received on average five notifications of elder abuse each month.

“We hear about it one way or another.” Tomorrow marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The purple-themed campaign aims to inform people that elder abuse _ including financial and material, psychological, physical abuse and neglect – is a widespread issue in New Zealand. A nationwide appeal will help fund prevention work.

Mr Stringer said financial abuse was a real problem in the district.

“In regards to family members asking for money or taking it,” he said.

Age Concern New Zealand spokeswoman Louise Collins says 70 to 80 per cent of elder abuse and neglect in New Zealand occurs at the hands of family members. About half of abusers are adult children and about half of the abused elders are over 80 years old.

“This is one of the reasons it stays hidden. Many older people feel ashamed their own flesh and blood is treating them badly, so they won’t talk about it,” she said.

North Otago Grey Power president Rose Gallagher said it was sad to know it was happening within families.

“It’s something people don’t really like to think about,” she said.

“An older person doesn’t want to speak up about a family member.”

She urged people to speak up about the issue.

“The younger generation are just getting so greedy,” she said.

“That’s what it amounts to.”

Oamaru’s Louisa Burrell, who is a member of several older people organisations, says she believes many people are not aware of elder person abuse.

Whether it was emotional, physical or financial abuse, Mrs Burrell said people needed to speak up about it.

“It can be a very awkward `do I, don’t I?’ situation,” she said.

“But it’s better to be sure.”

She also urged the community to contact Age Concern if they were aware of elder abuse.

“It is becoming very relevant,” she said.

Oamaru Opera House will be lit up in purple this weekend in recognition of the day.

If you are concerned about someone, contact Age Concern Waitaki on 434 7008.