Age Concern services receive about nine referrals per day for older people
Age Concern services receive about nine referrals per day for older people who may be facing elder abuse or neglect (file photo).
For an elderly couple, it began with being forbidden from the internet or cooking meals in the kitchen.
It ended with the pair leaving their home heartbroken and empty-pocketed after being trespassed by their daughter.
The couple - who Stuff aren't naming for legal reasons - had invested their life savings into a property to live in with their only daughter, a Waikato teacher.
Hamilton Age Concern executive officer Brent Nielsen knows some elderly who
Hamilton Age Concern executive officer Brent Nielsen knows some elderly who've been held captive in their own homes.
But with no contract, there was no proof that the money hadn't been gifted.
After months of psychological abuse, the couple were told they had two weeks to take their stuff and leave.
Their daughter trespassed them before the fortnight was up, with some of their belongings still in the house.
But their's isn't an isolated case - financial elder abuse is rife, figures show.
Age Concern's elder abuse and neglect prevention arm receives an average of nine referrals every working day, more than half of which involve financial abuse.
"One time, you could shake someone's hand and that was an agreement," the 73-year-old husband said. "These days you have to have a contract. I wasn't brought up like that.
"I had been extremely proud of my daughter.
"Sometimes power overcomes people."
The couple, now based in Christchurch, haven't spoken with their daughter since.
"We just cannot believe it ... it's very sad."
Abusers are usually family members, often children or grandchildren of the victim.
After an Elder Abuse Response Service was set up in July last year, there were 2100 responses in the first five months.
Before that, there had been 2300 in the entire year.
June 15, the office of seniors put 10-days of undercover crosswords into newspapers around the country to raise awareness. The crosswords were made to be discreet, in case the abusers were in the older people's immediate environment.
Each included a clue describing a different kind of elder abuse. The answer is always "ABUSE", with the helpline 0800 EA NOT OK listed at the bottom.
It's seen a 36 per cent increase in calls.
Hamilton Age Concern executive officer Brent Nielsen remembers the couple turfed out of their home by their daughter. It's a sad story, but not uncommon.
Older people tend to be more trusting, Nielsen said.
Financial abuse seems to be driven by a sense of entitlement, he said.
"Elder abuse by definition is betraying a trusted relationship.
"For example, [people will] add shopping to a shopping list of an older person. Or move in and take over an older person's home. So in some cases it's that sense of entitlement."
Sometimes this means the older person isn't fed.
"We find neglected and malnourished people.
"Some of the saddest stuff we see that we deal with is when older people are confined to their rooms."
It can be a harrowing job, seeing older people betrayed or manipulated by those they hold dearest, Nielsen said. But getting them out of a toxic or dangerous environment makes it worthwhile every time.
"We take every win."
Source : Stuff NZ