July 05, 2013 IWK Bureau
Most elder abuse cases are under-reported in the Indian community. “Yes it is under reported due to stigma and fear. Most of the time the perpetuator is family or caregivers and often old people fear backlash,” says Nilima Venkat, Project Manager, Shanti Niwas which works with socially isolated senior citizens of Indian and South Asian origin living in the Auckland region by providing culturally appropriate aged care services along with social, emotional, educational, physical and spiritual support. “The main concerns are loneliness, social isolation leading to depression and mental health issues, language, transport and lack of knowledge of the welfare system. Elder abuse and neglect are on the rise in our community.”
It would be safe to extrapolate that the figures registered by Age Concern is just a tip of the iceberg. Age Concern Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Services saw 22 Indian clients in the year 1 Jul 2012 – 30 Jun 2013. “This is 1.2% of the clients seen by the service,” said Louise Collins, National Advisor Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Services.
The 65 years and older population group is expected to grow steadily over the next 50 years. The ethnic make-up of the population is also expected to alter, with the proportion of Maori, Pacific and Asian groups (from 4% to 8% ) increasing relative to the current majority of those of European descent as per Statistics New Zealand.
Work of organisations like Shanti Niwas is vital in providing older people the care and social life necessary to lead a reasonable quality of life; and also monitor their well-being. The fantastic turnout at the recent event ‘Khushi’ (joy) was testimony to the success of the organization’s efforts in the community.
“The message is that it’s not ok to tolerate elder abuse in any form. Our aim is to help build a society free of Abuse,” said Ms. Venkat.
Since older people keep mum due to stigma and fear, it is important for friends to speak out should they feel that an elder in their community is being abused in anyway – physically, emotionally, psychologically or financially.
Help is at hand: Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust - 09 6221010 | Age Concern New Zealand - 04 801 9338
SOURCE: The Indian WeekEnder, NZ
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