Elder Abuse Awareness Week is 15-22 June 2018. A spirited group of caring West Coast ladies took to the streets to mark the occasion by doing a door-to-door cupcake delivery to residents of local pensioner flats.
Elder Abuse is too rarely acknowledged but unfortunately increasingly common in New Zealand society. Margaret Weatherall is a member of the West Coast Te Rito Violence Prevention Network co-ordinating the initiative.
80 percent of abuse to elderly people is from their family,” she says.
Restriction of freedom; misuse of funds or Power of Attorney; neglect and overt violence in any form, all fall under this umbrella term.
Two years ago Margaret Lilley of Age Concern headed up a campaign to raise awareness of services available to help elderly people. Cupcakes baked by volunteers were handed out to residents of rest homes in Buller District as a sign of respect and care.
The initiative was received with such enthusiasm that the idea caught on further south. A similar initiative was carried out last year for residents of care facilities in Hokitika.
This year, the cupcake campaign has spilled out onto the streets and it is Grey District’s turn. Donning bright purple t-shirts emblazoned with messages of compassion, a small band of Coasters reached out to pensioners in Greymouth, Blaketown, Dobson and Runanga.
It is not okay
Their message is that Elder Abuse is not okay and that it is okay to ask for help. Each resident was given information about how to recognise elder abuse and who to contact if they have concerns as well as a brightly decorated cupcake as a gesture of respect.
With a spring in their step, the cupcake bearers knocked on doors and were greeted by smiling faces. Residents happily received their cupcakes and took a moment to ruminate on the information provided to them.
Many of the residents find their social networks shrinking as their mobility declines and community engagement diminishes. This small gesture of compassion went a long way towards making their day just a little bit brighter.
This campaign is yet another example of New Zealanders choosing to make happiness their business. Everyone deserves respect and the choice to help, is one that we can all make.
Sometimes it is as simple as knocking on someone’s door to let them know that you care. Baked goods and a smile will rarely go astray.
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For more information:
West Coasters concerned about Elder Abuse can contact Margaret Lilley at West REAP in Westport on (03) 789 7659.
More information about Elder Abuse and what you can do to make a difference can be found on the Age Concern website click here