Tomorrow, 15th June, is World Elder Abuse Day. This year, the Office for Seniors has launched an innovative crossword campaign to raise awareness around elder abuse.

The Ministry of Social Development’s data shows 79 per cent of reported cases of elder abuse involve psychological abuse, and more than half involve financial abuse. Many cases combine elements of abuse: psychological, financial, physical or sexual.

To educate more New Zealanders about the different forms of elder abuse and raise awareness about the Elder Abuse Response Service Helpline, the Office for Seniors has released a 10-day series of undercover crosswords in newspapers around the country.

The crosswords will feature in 20 newspapers with each day including a clue that describes a different form of elder abuse. The response to all of the clues is “ABUSE” with the 0800 EA NOT OK helpline at the bottom of every crossword.

The final crossword will appear on World Elder Abuse Day, when Office for Seniors will be revealing they have been behind the crossword as a way to let more New Zealanders know about the helpline.

Launched in July 2017, the Elder Abuse Response Service received more than 2,100 calls and referrals in its first five months. By comparison, the previous service received around 2,300 referrals in a year.

With such an influx in calls and referrals to the new service, the Office for Seniors saw a need to make even more New Zealanders aware of the helpline.

It’s chosen to do this through undercover crosswords as a safe way to educate the elderly on what constitutes abuse and encourage them to get help via the helpline, even if their abuser is in their immediate environment.

And it appears to be working. Call traffic to the helpline is being monitored and the Office for Seniors reports a 36 per cent increase in calls during the first week of the campaign.

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