Age Concern Wanganui says elder abuse is happening in plain sight in Whanganui and it's on the rise.

Today is Elder Abuse Day and the Office for Seniors as well as Age Concern are trying to raise awareness around the issue.

Age Concern Wanganui manager Tracy Lynn described elder abuse as an insidious and growing problem.

"It could be something as simple as taking grandma's Eftpos card, coercing the pin number out of her and going and cleaning out her bank account.

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"A number of years ago I came into the office one lunchtime and there was a lady lying on the floor in our tea room. She'd been kicked out of her house, she was in her 80s," Lynn said.

"It was a second marriage and the children and the husband just didn't want her anymore ... that's it in a nutshell, that's the kind of thing we're talking about."

She said there were many different ways elder abuse could occur - one example was younger people preying on the good nature of older people.

"There are some predators out there. Women who will prey on elderly gentlemen, befriend them.

"Younger women saying they need food and things for their children ... preying on the good nature of older people.

"We're finding a bit of that here in Whanganui, that crops up from time to time and has cropped up just recently."

Lynn said raising awareness was the best thing organisations like Age Concern could do to reduce elder abuse.

Age Concern had received 121 referrals of elder abuse cases in the 11 months to the end of May.

Lynn said almost all of the referrals were confirmed as elder abuse and family members were nearly always the guilty party.

Sometimes Age Concern Wanganui works with police to try to prosecute the most severe cases through the courts.

The director at the Office for Seniors, Diane Turner, said elder abuse was essentially a form of family violence.

"Most elder abuse actually involves family or people of trust, so carers and the like.

"Often older people are embarrassed about the fact that their son or daughter or grandchild has taken money from them ... abused their trust.

Turner said it was likely difficult for older people being abused to speak out.

"They're often frightened with the repercussions of reporting elder abuse ... they might lose contact with their children, their best friends, their sons and daughters....

"Some pretty tricky family dynamics at play so it makes it harder for people to dob in their own, so to speak."

If you feel like you are a victim of elder abuse and would like someone to talk to call Age Concern Wanganui 06 345 1799 or email info@ageconcernwanganui.co.nz.