World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is being marked on Saturday 15th June 2019.

It’s estimated that up to 10% of people aged 65+ are victim to elder abuse or neglect – that’s up to 16,000 people living in Auckland. We need to educate our community to raise awareness and understanding of elder abuse, and encourage the public to adopt a no tolerance approach to elder abuse.


WEAAD focuses our attention on the need for all of us to take responsibility in preventing elder abuse. Age Concern Auckland will join communities locally, regionally and across the world to heighten awareness of elder abuse.


Aroha me ngā manaakitanga kauaka hei whakakino hei whakarere noa. Love and respect, not abuse and neglect. 


Age Concern Counties Manukau unveiled the Yarn Bombing Community Installation at the ACCM office on Friday 15th June 2018. The Yarn Bombing symbolized connection. This year, 2019, we are promoting connection again, as connection is the best prevention against elder abuse. Catch up over a cuppa with an older person you know this June 15th. The more connected we are, the more likely we are to be able to recognize and reach out in cases of elder abuse. 


Help us raise awareness and create opportunities for conversations around preventing Elder Abuse & Neglect in your communities this June.

An elderly Auckland man has revealed details of four years of abuse he suffered at the hands of two people who he thought were his friends and moved into his home.

About Elder Abuse and Neglect


What is elder abuse and neglect?

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 people. 


How prevalent is elder abuse?

Elder abuse is a global problem. 


An analysis of data from the New Zealand Longitudinal Study of Ageing concluded that 10% of the population aged over 65 years who are living in the community experience abuse – that’s more than 16,000 people living in Auckland and 60,000 people living in Aotearoa New Zealand. 


International studies report that 3% - 10% of older people experience abuse or neglect each year.  It happens to men and women of every religious, cultural, ethnic and socio-economic group. 


However, much abuse goes unreported.  It has been estimated that only 1 in 14 of all abuse incidents come to the attention of a service agency that can intervene to help stop the abuse. 


Each year, Age Concern’s Elder Abuse Response services (EARS) receive more than 2,000 referrals of older people who may be facing elder abuse or neglect. That’s eight referrals every working day. About three quarters of these situations are confirmed to involve elder abuse or neglect. 


The older person and the abuser are generally people who know each other. Statistics from services in Aotearoa New Zealand show that the majority of abusers are members of the older person's family (partners, sons, daughters, in laws, siblings and grandchildren). Other abusers include people employed in positions of trust - residential facility staff or paid carers.


What does elder abuse look like?

Elder Abuse can look like one or more of the following:

  • Physical Abuse: Infliction of pain, injury or use of force.  For example: hitting, pushing, rough handling, over-medication, inappropriate use of restraints or confinement.

  • Psychological Abuse: Behaviour causing mental anguish, stress or fear.  For example: ridicule or threats, harassment or humiliation, preventing choice or decision-making, withholding affection.

  • Financial Abuse: Illegal or improper use of money, property or other assets.  For example: unauthorised taking of money or possessions, misuse of power of attorney, failure to repay loans, use of home and/or utilities without contributing to costs, scams that rely on establishing a relationship with the older person with the intention of exploiting their savings and/or assets, e.g. romance scams.

  • Neglect: Not providing for physical, emotional or social needs. For example: inadequate food, clothing, shelter, lack of social contact, support, health needs not attended to.

  • Sexual Abuse: Non-consensual sexual acts or exploitive behaviours. For example: inappropriate touching, sexual acts with someone unable to give consent.

  • Institutional Abuse: A policy or accepted practice within an organisation that disregards a person’s rights or causes harm. For example: lack of respect for a person’s culture or customs, inappropriate rationing of continence products, inflexible routines e.g. breakfast at 8 am in the dining room.


What are the warning signs?

The following signs may indicate an older person is being abused:

  • unexplained behaviour, sleeping or eating habits

  • withdrawal and/or edginess

  • fear of a particular person

  • confusion

  • unexplained injuries

  • drowsiness (due to over-medication)

  • recoiling from touch

  • unusual withdrawals from bank accounts

  • unpaid bills, lack of money for necessities.


Risk factors that may increase vulnerability

  • Inadequate support

  • Cognitive impairment

  • Family violence, dynamic or dependency

  • Social isolation

  • Poor physical and mental health

  • Financial stress or dependency

  • Grief, loss or depression

  • Challenging behaviour or substance abuse


What are the effects of elder abuse?

The personal losses associated with abuse can be devastating and include the loss of independence, homes, lifesavings, health, dignity, and security.


Abuse can reduce a person’s independence by undermining their self-esteem and confidence.  It also damages family/whānau relationships, financial security, and mental and physical health, increasing dependency on health and support agencies which may result in the need for residential care.  


Why don’t older people seek help when they are abused?

Some of the reasons why an older person/kaumātua does not tell anyone about the abuse are:

  • They depend on the abuser for support

  • They have low self-confidence and self-esteem

  • They don’t want to make a fuss

  • They are afraid that if they complain the abuse will get worse

  • They are isolated, so that it is difficult for them to tell anyone

  • They do not know who to tell or how to get help

  • They have dementia or an illness prevents them from telling anyone

  • They blame themselves for the abuse

  • They are ashamed that the abuser is a family/whānau member


What should you do if you suspect elder abuse and/or neglect?

If you suspect that elder abuse and/or neglect is happening to someone you know, contact your local Age Concern for advice.


The Age Concern Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention (EANP) Service aims to improve the quality of life of older people in abusive situations and aims to prevent abuse by providing information, education programmes, advocacy and support.


Our qualified EANP Social Workers have a wide knowledge of the needs of older people and their carers and they work closely with relevant organisations. They are available to talk with groups to help promote public awareness. Seminars and presentations on elder abuse and neglect prevention can also be arranged.


Client feedback survey results tell us that 90% of the older people we support reporting positive improvements to their situations.


Ways you can help prevent elder abuse and neglect

  • Love and cherish your older relatives/whanau

  • Speak respectfully to older people/ kaumātua

  • Include older people/ kaumātua in your social activities

  • Phone or visit your older relatives/whanau

  • Support older people/ kaumātua to spend their money how they wish

  • Encourage and support older people/ kaumātua to make their own decisions

  • Honour older people’s/ kaumātua’s wisdom

  • Enable older people/ kaumātua to set their own pace

  • Respect older people’s/ kaumātua’s stories

  • Seek advice from an Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Service when you think an older person/ kaumātua is being abused or neglected


“Ultimately the challenge for us all is not only to listen to what has been said, but to believe and act upon it” (Missing Voices, INPEA and WHO, 2002).

Age Concern New Zealand

These videos have been provided by Age Concern New Zealand.  Please to go to their website on for more information.

Age Concern Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention coordinator Marie Bennett speaks about her experiences dealing with cases of physical abuse.

Louise Collins, Age Concern National Advisor for Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention services speaks about her experiences in dealing with psychological abuse

Bronwyn Groot from BNZ talks about financial abuse

Contact our EARS Teams today on 09-820-0184 (Auckland) or 09-279-4331 (Counties Manukau) if you are concerned about the treatment of an older person you know

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