People aged over 65 make up just under 15% of the New Zealand population. The New Zealand Longitudinal Study of Ageing has shown that 10% of over 65's living in our community experience abuse.
That's an astounding 73,000+ members of our older population experiencing abuse in our communities!
Elder abuse is defined as 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. (Action on Elder Abuse, 2004; WHO/INPEA, 2002)
It is concerning that while elder abuse is so prevalent in New Zealand, there seems to be little public narrative in the media. As a result, there is much that the average New Zealander does not know about elder abuse. For example, the majority of cases of elder abuse (about 80%) are perpetrated by family members, and often the home caregiver who is responsible for the abuse is female - a daughter or daughter-in-law who has been designated to care for the elderly parent. This means that women in particular need to step up, talk about, and be proactive in stamping out elder abuse from domestic environments.