Age Concern is asking Whanganui people to speak up about elder abuse.

The organisation says it is raising awareness of the issue during an awareness week which begins on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June 2017.

Elder abuse often happens within families. Age Concern elder abuse statistics show that:

+ 75% of alleged abusers are family members
+ 50% of the alleged abusers are adult children or grandchildren
+ Alleged abusers are as likely to be female as male

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Age Concern New Zealand Chief Executive, Stephanie Clare, says that the shame or stigma often means people don't always report abuse happening within their family.

"This is one of the reasons it stays hidden. Many older people feel ashamed their own flesh and blood are treating them badly, so they won't talk about it," she said.

Age Concern have an average of eight calls per day about older people suspected of being abused or neglected. In three quarters of these cases, abuse or neglect is confirmed.

"We know that's just the tip of the iceberg. But it doesn't have to be this way. The more people understand about elder abuse and what they can do to stop it, the better."

Ms Clare says that although Age Concern receives over 2,000 referrals of elder abuse every year, including financial, psychological, physical abuse, the organisation knows that its services can make a difference and improve the lives of older New Zealanders. "We see it every day in the work we do."

"Age Concern's elder abuse and neglect prevention (EANP) teams work closely with older people and their families to resolve issues of abuse and ensure it does not reoccur."

But Ms Clare says that everybody needs to keep an eye out for elder abuse.

"Don't let fear of meddling in someone else's business stop you from voicing your concern. It is time to stop elder abuse in our communities and if we all pull together we can achieve this," she said.

Age Concern says it needs help stopping elder abuse. "We need families to stand up and make sure they all play a part protecting our older people and to seek our help if they suspect any abuse is happening.

"We need people to stand up and challenge disrespectful attitudes towards older people, by promoting respect. We need to love and support them, honour their wisdom, encourage them to make their own decisions and let them set their own pace."

Anybody who suspects an older person is not being treated well or who want to report abuse are encouraged to visit www.ageconcern.org.nz for the contact details of the nearest Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Service.