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HealthInfo Canterbury

Elder abuse


Seek help if you, or someone you know is being abused. You can get help through your GP, or by phoning the 24 hour helpline 0800-EA-NOT-OK (0800-32-668-65). This is a free helpline for anyone suffering from elder abuse, or those who suspect elder abuse.

If you or an older person are in immediate danger, phone 111 for the police.

Older woman wiping tears

Abuse is never OK, and neither is feeling scared in any place where you should feel safe.

Elder abuse is when an older person experiences harm. Harm can happen in different ways, such as physical (hitting or lashing out) or psychological (emotional) abuse. It can also include financial abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect.

It often involves violence, but it can also be subtle, and the older person may not realise they are being abused.

It can happen in an older person's home, a carer’s home, in residential care, or a health care setting.

The abuser is often known to the person, and may be a partner, family member, friend, carer or health worker.

There are over 2200 cases of suspected elder abuse each year. It's estimated that three-quarters of cases of elder abuse go unreported.

Getting help for abuse

If you are feeling scared or being abused, there are many people available to help you.

The first thing to do is to tell someone. This can be hard. Sometimes it's easier to tell someone you don't know.

You could tell a friend, health professional, the police or a support person. You can call the Family Violence Information Line on 0800‑456‑450.

For more information read the Are you OK brochure.

Signs of abuse

Signs that suggest you, or an elderly person you care about, is in a situation of abuse include:

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed September 2019.

Page reference: 136031

Review key: HIELA-136031