More elder abuse cases are emerging in Tauranga but the culprits often avoid prosecution because they are family members, social
Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Diane Bruin said its figures were up 10 per cent over the last 12 months with one victim losing $30,000.
Some people were in the early stages of dementia and had been taken advantage of by a family member, she said.
Other cases included parents that had accumulated savings and family had expected them to purchase a house for them. While sometimes it was the grandchildren wanting money to fuel addictions or adults still living with their parents.
“It happens where adult children are looking after elderly parents and they think it is their right to make them pay for unrealistic things. If they have difficulty saying no, then they do get stressed.”
Age Concern Tauranga chair Deborah Jagger said financial abuse was most prevalent followed by physiological abuse.
“They don’t go anywhere because 80 per cent of it would be family members. The issue is
these are very clever people that have often been doing it for years and you need to be
able to prove that.”
The impact could be devastating on the elderly, she said.
“The effects are huge; you see behavioral impacts, you see withdrawal, we sometimes see
things like incontinence or lack of eating. Others end up with no money or no power.”
It was not okay for anyone to feel unsafe or vulnerable and she urged people to reach out.
“If it is that bad and they are scared, things like documenting and taking photos to
substantiate what they are saying is useful. We have a dedicated trained person that takes
on any elder abuse cases.”
Tauranga Western Bay of Plenty Grey Power president Christina Humphreys said people
were often desperate and just wanted someone to talk to.
“A lot come in our door and say it’s their children bullying them for their money. One was an 80 year old
lady who had a son that was up to his eyeballs in debt with maxed out credit cards and a mortgage that he wanted her to pay for. These are the things we are hearing. Some of them are just awful … like a parent that has been plonked in the garage after their children have got all their money.”
Grey Power advised people to call Healthline as it was operated 24 hours or Age Concern, she said.
In 2012, the Age Concern elder abuse and neglect prevention service reported a 50 per cent increase in referrals.
What is elder abuse?
*Elder Abuse and neglect is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an
expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.
*Each year, Age Concern’s Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention services receive more than 2000 referrals for older people who may be
facing elder abuse or neglect.
*About three quarters of these situations are confirmed to involve elder abuse or neglect.
*Abuse can include financial, psychological and physical.
*Age Concern Tauranga 07 5782631
*24 Hour Healthline for financial, emotional or physical abuse on 0800 611 116