Elder abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.
Definition adopted from WHO Toronto Declaration on the Global Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2002
Elder abuse and neglect is a global issue and this definition is applied in New Zealand too. It affects older people/kaumātua regardless of gender, religion, income level, sexual orientation and ethnic or cultural group a person identifies with.
Elder abuse and neglect involves the violation of human rights and causes physical and mental injury and illness, damages financial and material security, and can lead to isolation, loss of self-confidence and despair. Elder abuse and neglect usually damages trusted social relationships with family/whanau or friends, neighbours, caregivers and agencies.
There are many reasons why elder abuse occurs. It often stems from attitudes that are ageist, and disrespectful of older people/kaumātua.
The majority of cases that Age Concerns work with involves older people living in their own homes. In most instances it is family members like adult children who perpetrate elder abuse or neglect.