Older adults affected by abuse often know and trust the person mistreating them. Elder abuse can be caused by a family member, a friend, someone who provides assistance with basic needs or services, or health care providers in institutional settings. In many situations of elder abuse, the abuser is dependent on the older adult for money, food or shelter.

Older adults affected by abuse often know and trust the person mistreating them. Elder abuse can be caused by a family member, a friend, someone who provides assistance with basic needs or services, or health care providers in institutional settings. In many situations of elder abuse, the abuser is dependent on the older adult for money, food or shelter.

Personal safety measures to consider

  • Get a personal safety alarm. You may be eligible for a government-funded personal medical alarm
  • Ask your neighbours to be alert for any signs of a problem
  • Establish a code to signal neighbours or friends that you need help immediately
  • Keep a list of current telephone numbers of friends and family to call.
  • Consider talking to an advocate, healthcare professional or the Police about your safety

 

Protect yourself from financial abuse

  • Use two people that you trust to help you with your money, so they are not only responsible to you; they are accountable to each other.  
  • Never give your bank card or PIN to anyone – there are other ways to access cash. Buy gift cards
  • If you want items from specific stores, use gift vouchers or gift cards to allow others to shop on your behalf. You can often purchase these online.
  • Shop for groceries online and have your caregiver collect them or have them delivered.
  • Check your bank statements regularly and make sure you know what the transactions are.
  • Keep your money in the bank. If you keep money around in your home, ensure it’s out of the way of casual visitors.
  • Set up automatic payments or direct debits for regular bills such as electricity, rent or telephone.
  • If someone shops for you, be clear about what money you have given them, and what change you expect. Set out the expectation at the outset, e.g. “how much do you think that will cost? I will give you $20 & you can bring me the change” to avoid a misunderstanding.
  • Only give out your personal details to websites and emails that you trust. Look for the lock symbol by the website address bar at the top as this indicates a website is secure.
  • Don’t let anyone pressure you into giving or lending cash. You aren’t obliged to lend someone money, even if they are helping you to manage it. You might be asked by someone to act as a guarantor for a loan or credit card. Be cautious – this means you agree to cover their payments if they can’t. Make sure you fully understand what you’re liable for before signing anything. It’s a good idea to get advice first – talk to a trusted friend or relative or go to your local Age Concern, Citizens Advice Bureau or Building Financial Capability (BFC) service.

Protect your personal well-being and property

The protection of our personal well-being and property is often something that individuals give little thought to OR we consider it when a problem arises. Individuals who have the ability or ‘mental capacity’ to look after themselves and their property will generally do that on their own accord. However, it is vital that individuals make provisions and plan for if/when that will no longer be the case. Situations that prevent individuals from looking after themselves and their property include:

  • Loss of mental capacity through injury/accident

  • Loss of mental capacity through illness/age/disability

  • Death

Protection of personal well-being and property falls into two broad categories:

  • While you are alive – Power of Attorney

  • Once you pass away – Will

An Enduring Power of Attorney bridges the gap as it can go into place while the individual is alive and carries through if/when they lose mental capacity and pass away. A great deal of care must be taken in choosing an attorney. It is crucial that the attorney is trustworthy and you are confident that the attorney will always act in your best interests. The attorney should also have the skills to manage your affairs and keep proper records and accounts.  Read more information about An Enduring Power of Attorney

Protect yourself from family violence

An older person or their representative can apply for a protection order. The Family Court can issue a protection order to protect an adult from further abuse by someone they are in a family relationship with. Older people at risk of abuse from their children, siblings, or live-in caregivers, for example, can apply to the Family Court for a protection order. The court may allow a representative to apply on behalf of an abused adult if they are unable to do so themselves due to lack of capacity or fear of harm.                              


Elder Abuse Response Contact: Febe Camacho
 07 346 2096   febe.camacho@familyfocus.org.nz