Elder Abuse

What is an Elder Abuse?

‘Elder Abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring in any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.’  There are different types of abuse like, psychological, financial, physical, institutional, neglect, or sexual.

Age Concern Taranaki provides a free and confidential Elder Abuse Response Service (EARS) for the whole Taranaki region. We work very closely and collaboratively with many support agencies across the Taranaki district including DHB’s, police, social workers, home-based support.  Our professional Elder Abuse staff work with older people / kaumātua and their carers providing support and advocacy so that older people can be happy, healthy and safe from harm.  Our staff can help by:

  • Listening and discussing problems relating to abuse and neglect.
  • Assisting older people / kaumātua to improve their quality of life
  • Offering options which may include referral to other professional agencies.
  • Support informed choices
  • Work with a resource team to assist victims, caregivers and their families.

If you have concerns about the way you or someone you know are being treated, spoken to or cared for, and if you are concerned about how money is spent and property is being used, we offer a free and confidential service to help. Please contact us as guided below.

Sinead Thomas and Lisa Read – Elder Abuse Response Social Workers                                            

Phone:  06 759 9196 or 0800 626 364

‘Voices of our Older People-Kaumātua’

What does elder abuse mean for you?


“The major concern for me is it’s upsetting my family. My son and daughter in law were the ones taking loan after loan and it annoyed me that they assumed I was loaded! I was worried if I asked them to start paying me back they’d stop visiting me. Nothing was happening, I knew they needed to make an effort. I just felt ashamed having to chase my own son up for money, its hard topic to approach”                                      Mark (false name), 74 years old, New Plymouth

“I felt like I had to turn everything off (emotionally) and just ignore him. He’s my son and I couldn’t even talk with him. I could hear him muttering things from his bedroom and I knew he was working himself up. I could never have any privacy-I couldn’t even use the phone without him listening in on any calls. I felt I just had to carry on and not cause a fuss.  Sandra(false name) 87 years old, South Taranaki

National statistics:

Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Services throughout NZ receive over 2,500 referrals per year.  We know there is a high level of under or non-reporting.

Taranaki statistics:

  • 133 People utilized the Taranaki Elder Abuse Service between 1st July 2018-30th June 2019
  • 55 were male- – –78 were female
  • 55 people suffered from some form of psychological/emotional abuse. This is using tactics such as threats and humiliation causing distress.
  • 42 people suffered from financial abuse. This is using someone’s money or property without authority. This includes online scams.
  • 5 people in Taranaki over the age of 65 were physically abused. This is causing pain or injury using force. It can include withholding medication or overusing medication causing drowsiness.
  • 11 Taranaki locals were neglected. Neglecting an older person is failing to provide the necessary assistance required for their needs. This includes social needs!
  • 13 people in Taranaki were self-neglecting. This means 13 locals were not able to care for themselves but due to things like isolation, mental illness and being embarrassed to ask for help, self-neglect continued. This involves hoarding!
  • 7 people over the age of 65 reported institutional abuse in Taranaki. This includes care facilities and any other agency where attitudes from staff or policies cause disadvantage to our Kaumātua.

(Age Concern Taranaki, 2019)


Refer someone to our Elder Abuse Response Service
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