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May 31, 2011

Elderly Abuse rife Since Earthquake (NEW ZEALAND)


Elderly abuse rife since earthquake
 30th May 2011
The elderly are taking the brunt of earthquake stress, with elder abuse rife in the suburbs.

Age Concern community nurse Kerry Howley estimated cases of reported elderly abuse had increased by 40 to 50 per cent since the earthquake.
"There's a huge increase in stress and there has been some abuse related to financial issues. Some families in financial hardship treat an elderly person like a bank- using them for money." she said.

Ms Howley knew of one case where a 91-year-old woman had been a targeted in an earthquake shelter by a 41-year-old man.
"A gentleman met an older lady at a shelter and took her home. He built up her trust and then took lots of her money. They didn't know each other before the earthquake. He just saw the opportunity and moved on her," she said.

Much of the abuse was verbal, but could also be physical or neglectful, Ms Howley said.
"I had one elderly couple in their 90s who were put into respite care because their home was so damaged in the earthquake. But their daughter wanted them to return home, even though they had no sewage or water, because she was in charge of their money. When they were in care their social worker wanted to know where all the money was going," she said.
With thousands of houses ruined in February's earthquake, many people have been forced to move in with their elderly relatives.
Police Inspector Dave Lawry said: "There's been a lot of elder abuse going on. People's houses are trashed so they're moving in with mum and dad, or other family members, who they don't necessarily get along with."
Inspector Lawry said fights had been developing, with the elderly often being "pushed around."




Some of the abuse had been "historic," only coming to light after the earthquake as neighbours and friends checked on the usually isolated elderly.
"Sometimes the relationship with the family has always been abusive, but the elderly person just thought it was normal or that nothing could be done about it," Ms Howley said.


SOURCE:      starcanterbury.co.nz
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