A "growing trend" has been used to describe elder abuse in Tauranga - with one organisation seeing an increase in financial abuse.
The news comes hard on the heels of Elder Abuse Awareness Week, which begins today. Te Tuinga Whānau Support Services Trust executive director Tommy Wilson said he had noticed an increase in what they would call financial abuse, where grandchildren or sons and daughters had control of the elderly person's cards.
"We are starting to see more and more older people coming into our homeless residency."
He said this married up to a huge increase in the consumption of meth within families.
"That has a part to play in it and unfortunately in many occasions, the grandparents end up looking after their grandchildren because the parents aren't able to.
He said they had noticed an increase over the past year, and it had ramped up again during Covid-19.
The trust had three or four elderly clients in their homeless residency currently, which they would not normally have.
"Elder abuse is a growing trend, marrying up with financial hardship and consumption of meth."
The Whaioranga Trust delivers multiple services utilising kaupapa Māori values and practices as guidelines to support whānau.
Roharia Borell said the trust's primary focus was the wellbeing of whānau, hapu and iwi.
It provides a range of services to support whānau to live well in the community and works in a multi-disciplinary team.
Elder abuse response services is among the trust's services, which also include traditional healing, whānau counselling, whānau support, Mana Tu – mental health and addictions and disabilities services.
"Elder Abuse Response Services (EARS) ensures that older people experiencing or at risk of experiencing abuse and neglect have timely access to culturally appropriate local services that respond to ensure their immediate safety, and support them to have greater control over their lives."
She asked people to note that the National 0800 EA NOT OK 08003266865 was the best point of contact for anyone wanting/needing help and direction.
"World Elder Abuse Day continues to be an important part of the year where we shine a light on the abuse that affects the health and well-being of many people."
Age Concern Tauranga general manager Tanya Smith said they did receive calls from members of the public with concerns or feeling that loved ones were being abused.
She said they would work alongside these people and referred them on to the appropriate agencies.
"Elder abuse doesn't start and stop on these days. It's 365 days a year, 24 hours. It is prevalent and out there, and it's really important people feel safe about having conversations."
Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Shirley McCombe said they had not noticed a marked increase in financial abuse of our older community.
"We occasionally see people we suspect may be being taken advantage of by others, who claim to be 'helping them'.
"We also see situations where extended family return to live with their older parents but do not contribute, or where the older person has borrowed money they cannot afford to repay to help younger family members.
"This is often why we see them in financial hardship.
"It may be that we see more of these situations as more people are made redundant as a result of Covid-19."
Grey Power Tauranga and Western Bay president Jennifer Custins said it was important to raise the awareness because older people were so much more vulnerable and were often taken advantage of by people close to them, people they trusted.
"There needs to be more education out there, not to frighten people, but to make them more confident to speak up to authorities..."
She said being a lobby group, they did not receive a lot of calls about abuse, but it did happen and they had trained volunteers for people to talk to.
"I am concerned that there may be an increase in abuse from family members now that the economic situation is so bad with job losses and younger people struggling for money. Older relatives are very often pressured to part with their money at these times."
The week is running from June 15 to 22, which begins on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The campaign message for this year is - elder abuse hits close to home.
- The National 0800 EA NOT OK 08003266865
- Whaioranga Trust: (07) 544 9981, 0800 211 211, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Te Tuinga Whānau Support Services Trust: (07) 571 0875, email@example.com, 190 Chadwick Rd
- Age Concern Tauranga: (07) 578 2631, firstname.lastname@example.org