Black Ribbon New Zealand
Ending Domestic Violence for Everyone!

Elder Abuse & Neglect

Each year, Age Concern’s Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention (EANP) services receive more than 2000 referrals for older people who may be facing elder abuse or neglect. That’s eight referrals every working day. About three quarters of these situations are confirmed to involve elder abuse or neglect.

Often the abuse experienced by an older person involves more than one type of abuse. In cases seen by Age Concern’s Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Services:

  • 75% involved psychological abuse
  • over 50% involved financial abuse
  • 15-20% involved physical abuse
  • 10-15 % involved neglect
  • 10-15% involved self-neglect
  • Over ¾ of elder abuse is perpetrated by family members.

Abuse is also identified by other agencies including health providers, the Police, lawyers, other community support organisations, and other non-Age Concern Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention services.

Black Ribbon New Zealand is concerned that while elder abuse is so prevalent in New Zealand, there seems to be little public narrative in the media. As a result, there is much that the average New Zealander does not know about elder abuse. For example, the majority of cases of elder abuse are perpetrated by family members, and often the home caregiver who is responsible for the abuse is female. This means that women in particular need to step up and be proactive in stamping out elder abuse from domestic environments. These are the messages that we need to be delivering to our communities.


What can you do to stop elder abuse?

  • Treat older people with respect
  • Challenge ageist attitudes
  • Don’t ignore it, get help
  • Know how to recognise signs of elder abuse and neglect.

What does elder abuse look like?

Commonly, several types of abuse occur together. The types of abuse include:

Psychological Abuse - Behaviour causing mental anguish, stress or fear. For example:

  • ridicule or threats
  • harassment or humiliation
  • preventing choice or decision-making
  • withholding affection.

Financial Abuse - Illegal or improper use of money, property or other assets. For example:

  • unauthorised taking of money or possessions
  • misuse of power of attorney
  • failure to repay loans
  • use of home and/or utilities without contributing to costs
  • scams that rely on establishing a relationship with the older person with the intention of exploiting their savings and/or assets, e.g. romance scams.

Physical Abuse - Infliction of pain, injury or use of force. For example:

  • hitting, pushing, rough handling
  • over-medication
  • inappropriate use of restraints or confinement.

Neglect - Not providing for physical, emotional or social needs. For example:

  • inadequate food, clothing, shelter
  • lack of social contact, support
  • health needs not attended to.

Sexual Abuse - Non-consensual sexual acts or exploitive behaviours. For example:

  • inappropriate touching
  • sexual acts with someone unable to give consent.