New Zealand is less than 10 years away from having more seniors than children.
“By 2035 there will be 350,000 over 65s in Auckland. Botany already has 11,000 over 65s,” said Maggie Barry, Minister for Seniors, Minister for Conservation and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, as she addressed the SuperBlues meeting.
It was hosted by Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross with National candidate for Pakuranga, Simeon Brown.
Ms Barry, who hosted a gardening show on television for years, cautioned the gathering of senior citizens at the Howick Bowling Club about the increase in the incidence of physical, psychological, financial and sexual abuse.
Quoting the case of 77-year-old Ena Lai Dung who was starved to death by her daughter and weighed just 29kg with 15 broken bones when the ambulance officers arrived, Ms Barry said it’s important for the most vulnerable people to live in age-friendly communities.
“World War II veteran member Ron Greenhalgh died penniless because it was squandered at the TAB by his daughter, a resident of Pakuranga,” said the politician who first contested the Botany by-election in 2011.
“She was recently sentenced to 10 months of home detention.
“Around 79 per cent of seniors are abused by their own family members. Around 43 per cent of abused are living with the abusers and sadly it is the hardest thing to talk about,” she said stressing on the option to change the enduring power of attorney if children are not treating them right.
“Recently we launched a 0800 number (0800 32 668), a 24/7 helpline that will be staffed by a registered nurse.
“It’s an Elder Abuse Response Service (EARS) focussed on intervention and putting the needs of victims of elder abuse first,”
SuperSeniors Champions is another initiative with a group of influential and articulate advocates for positive ageing.
Talking about the record number of high elective surgeries and the huge increase in SuperGold Card–from a few hundred in 2008 to more than 13,000 outlets– she mentioned a number of initiatives for the aging population that included $2 billion pay equity deal for the aged-care workers.
Lightening up the mood after the serious talk on the elderly being ripped off, the Minister for Conservation spoke about her recent encounter with the flamboyant British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
“He’s quite funny,” she said about Mr Johnson who tried to channel his inner reptile on his visit to Zealandia, where he came face-to-face with a takahe, a tuatara and a kaka.
“He said all leaders are reptiles and are shape-shifters,” she laughed
“He’s such a comical character and potentially says things which are quite rude but he has so much charisma, he easily gets away with it.
“He described our predator-free campaign as `campaign of commendable slaughter’.”
However she says having Boris come to town was a very positive step.
“He said New Zealand will be top trading partners after Brexit moves out.”