Elder abuse is often hidden and those who experience the abuse are frequently afraid to acknowledge it – either through talking about it or in surveys. Furthermore the definition of elder abuse, by its nature, can’t be tight and easily measured or assessed. This poses a problem for research and policy responses because the definition in research terms, identification and measurement lack the clarity of many other social issues.
We need to grow our understanding of this very challenging topic. This research draws on data gathered through the New Zealand Longitudinal Study of Ageing (NZLSA). The results provide an insight into the experiences of participants regarding many different aspects of their lives. It identifies aspects of elder abuse, along with other health and wellbeing impacts, including experiencing loneliness and depression.
While the research gives new insight into the lives of older New Zealanders, research alone does not provide answers. It does, however, provide valuable information to inform the development of policy, service design and decision-making. It also highlights the importance of changing underlying attitudes towards older people, especially those who are most vulnerable.