'It stays hidden' - Age Concern urges people to watch out for the signs of elder abuse

Age Concern New Zealand is urging people to be vigilant for elder abuse - and to actually go and see older people rather than just sending things.

Spokesperson Hanny Naus, speaking this morning to TVNZ1's Breakfast, said elder abuse is "when an older person is harmed by someone who they trust, and that can be an action or an inaction".

Most elder abuse comes from people who initially genuinely want to help older people, she said, but that can turn sour.

"Psychological abuse sits behind most abuse that happens ... so often a person might be being betrayed or being upset by what's happening in their lives and have no avenue to express that or to deal with that," Ms Naus said.

"What we see a lot is that people who initially start off trying to be helpful to the older person, often it's in a family situation where one person offers to take care of them or to help them with their finances, ends up being controlled or abused by that person."

The best way for people to help is to stay aware of how an older person is feeling - to go and visit them and ask questions rather than sending flowers, for example.

"Ask questions and seek out what might be useful to that person to get the help they need," Ms Naus said.

"A lot of what happens in families ... stays hidden."

You call Age Concern on 0800 326 686 for advice, even if you're not sure if a person is being abused.

Spokesperson Hanny Naus says those committing elder abuse often start out wanting to help. Source: Breakfast