Retirement Life
14 June 2022

Age Concern is urging people to keep alert for signs of elder abuse

The problem is serious in New Zealand and internationally. The United Nations has officially deemed elder abuse to be a public health scourge and an attack on human rights.


So, it has established World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June. To highlight the dangers, and to support this international campaign, Age Concern is running a series of events around the country for a week to alert the public to the dangers. 


It says elder abuse can be a single act of harm against an older person, or a pattern of acts, or it can be the lack of appropriate action where there is an expectation of trust. Age Concern says elder abuse usually occurs behind closed doors and is seldom noticed in public, so raising awareness in all communities is crucial. 


It urges people to call in if they suspect elder abuse might be happening. It says this should be done fast, because the longer elder abuse goes on for, the more harm is caused, and the harder it becomes to remedy the damage. To support its argument, Age Concerns gave statistics from July 2020 to June 2021.  


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In that time, it worked with 2,452 cases of which 68% had abuse identified.

Most concerned people over 75, but 43% of victims were under that age. A large majority, 83%, included psychological abuse, and 40% of cases involve financial abuse. A minority, 20%, involved physical abuse. 


The perpetrators of all kinds of abuse were overwhelmingly family members, mainly adult children or grandchildren. Age Concern said it was common for different kinds of abuse to occur together, such as ridicule, threats, humiliation, coercion or social isolation. The results could be devastating, sometimes leading to a loss of independence, homes, life savings, health and dignity. 


Age Concern says it can be contacted at: 0800 652 105 or via 


Photo of Eric Frykberg
Written by:

Eric Frykberg

Semi-Retired, Eric worked in journalism for 45 years across print, radio and television, in New Zealand, Australia and Britain. He has specialised in business, finance, energy, mining, transport and agriculture. He was also foreign correspondent for RNZ for many years. He can be reached on

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