Community Funding Feature – Age Concern Southland

Janette Turner says many people would be shocked at what some of the community’s older folk are going through.

Turner should know – she is Age Concern Southland’s manager.

It’s hard to think of too many more heroic not-for-profitfor profit organisations than that of Age Concern Southland.

The work it does to help the region’s 65+ population is wide-ranging. Its three core services include elder abuse response, social work, and a visiting service.

Disappointingly the work it does around elder abuse is growing. Much of it centres around people taking financial advantage of older people.

“Elder abuse has been on the incline. Since we’ve come out of Covid people are reporting it a lot more,” Turner says.

“You’d be shocked at some of the stuff that happens.”

“As far as young people go, some have gone back to live with their parents and then they start to take money off their parents to support some of the habits they have.

“That’s where we are finding a lot of work… One parent dies and they go back to live with mum or dad, and it deteriorates from there.

“It doesn’t happen with all families but we’re dealing with it a lot at the moment.”

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was held on Thursday and Turner says it is another chance to shine a brighter spotlight on the situation.

Age Concern Southland has asked 20 shops along Esk St in Invercargill to dress up their shop frontages in support of the awareness day.

ILT board member Suzanne Prentice was handed the job of judging the best shop frontage. The ILT has been a supporter of Age Concern for over 25 years through its funding grants.

Prentice says the ILT board is united in its support of the work Age Concern does.

“We are here to better as many people’s lives in our community as we can… As a board we are all pleased with what Age Concern is about.”

While the work that Age Concern does is playing a major role in helping Southland’s older generation, Turner points out that it’s really a role for the entire community to help sort.

It’s as simple as being a bit direct when asking people if they are okay.

“I think we need to be looking over our shoulder and our fences and checking on people. I think it is a responsibility for the community.

“One of the promos for Oranga Tamariki is that it takes a community to bring up a child. Well, it’s a community that looks after an older person too.

“We seem to think that when people get older that they are fine. But you just don’t know what happens behind closed doors.”

“We are in a busy world, everyone is working, everyone’s got things to do after work…. So, we are busy world when we are younger, but when we get older that time can be quite slow for older people.

“It’s just realising they’ve done what we’ve done. They’ve had a busy life, they’ve brought kids up and done everything like that.

“Now they are at the end, they shouldn’t be getting abused.”

Turner also points out that in many ways, it has been older people who have suffered the most through the Covid pandemic.

The elderly are still very much in the midst of it, she says.

“I was just talking to a lady at Rowena Jackson who is in a townhouse, and she said Covid has never gone away for us.”

“For the older people in rest homes and townhouses, they are still going through Covid.

“The rest of us are still out in the community and saying, ‘there’s a lot of Covid about’, but you forget the older people have never come out of it. Because once it starts going through a rest home they lock it down. That’s a side of Covid I don’t think people have thought about.”

Now is as good as any time to check in on that older person you might know and ask if they are okay.