It’s not OK for older people /kaumātua to be abused or neglected by family, whānau, friends or caregivers.


Older people / kaumātua have the right to make their own choices and decisions even if we don’t agree with them. They have the right to spend their money as they choose.


What can you do to stop elder abuse?

If you feel something is not right...
Tell someone!

Report suspected mistreatment to your local Elder Abuse and Neglect Response Service (EARS) or make a referral using the contacts on this page.

If you believe an older person is in a life-threatening situation, phone 111 or your local police station.

Help raise awareness by

  • Talking about the issue
  • Challenging injustice and ageist stereotypes

Be an advocate

  • Treat older people / kaumātua with respect
  • Love and cherish your older relatives / kaumātua
  • Keep in contact and talk with older friends,whānau, neighbours and relatives frequently
  • Support older people / kaumātua to spend their money how they wish.
  • Encourage and support older people / kaumātua to make their own decisions.
  •  Honour older people’s / kaumātua’s wisdom
  • Be aware and alert for possibility of abuse
  • Look around and take note of what may be happening with your kaumātua, older neighbours and acquaintances
  • Ask questions and listen
  • Learn more from Age Concern New Zealand.
  • Know how to recognise signs of elder abuse and neglect.

What are the warning signs?
The following MAY indicate an older person is being abused: 

• Unexplained behaviour, sleeping or                eating habits
• Withdrawal and/or edginess
• Fear of a particular person
• Confusion
• Unexplained injuries
• Drowsiness (due to over-medication)
• Recoiling from touch
• Unusual withdrawals from bank accounts
• Unpaid bills, lack of money for               


Elder abuse thrives in secrecy. If you have concerns about how you are being treated, speak out.


Why don’t older people seek help when they are abused?
Some of the reasons why an older person does not tell anyone about the abuse are:

  • They blame themselves for the abuse
  • They are ashamed that the abuser is a family member
  • They depend on the abuser for support
  • They have low self-confidence and self-esteem
  • They don’t want to make a fuss
  • They are  afraid that if they complain the abuse will get worse
  • They are isolated, making it difficult for them to tell anyone
  • They do not know who to tell or how to get help
  • They have dementia or an illness that prevents them from telling anyone.

If you are concerned about violence, there people who can help or offer information

The Elder Abuse helpline will help you work through these issues and put you in touch with support services near where you live. This service is free, staffed by nurses, and completely confidential.  It is available all day, every day. Call 0800 32 668 65 (0800 EA NOT OK). 

Recent research about elder abuse in New Zealand can be found here