Valuable and vulnerable: recognising the place of the 65-plus

Media Release
1 October, 2018

The over 65s are the fastest-growing demographic group in New Zealand and one that is expected to double in size within the next 30 years.

October the 1st is the United Nations’ International Day of Older Persons. It’s a day to remind ourselves of the value of the over 65s in New Zealand – their ongoing contribution and their wisdom.

It’s also a day for considering the challenges they face.

Elder abuse takes many forms, and ageist attitudes mean older people are often overlooked for opportunities that they’re quite capable of doing. Additionally, with the over 65s living longer than ever, health issues such as dementia are presenting an increasing challenge.

These things place older persons in a vulnerable position and mean everyday tasks can be a real challenge, for the over 65s themselves and their children who are often playing a role in their care.

Public Trust research has thrown a light on some of these children; more specifically, those whose time and resources are divided between looking after an elderly family member while supporting their own children.

Known as the ‘sandwich generation’, they’re bearing the day-to-day brunt of a society where the over 65s are living longer while their own children are arriving later.

“We now have a generation who are actively caring for a generation above them, fully engaged in raising a generation below and doing both for a significant period of time,” says Public Trust’s General Manager Retail Julian Travaglia.

Although the research showed that 73% of those in the sandwich generation feel stretched in their role as dual carer, they also reported a degree of happiness or gratitude in their role.

For many there was a sense of giving back, even though the responsibilities were emotionally draining.

“I feel very tired, but I am pleased that I am able to care for them both,” said one research participant.

Others felt an unwavering sense of responsibility.

“Because they are my family and I love helping in any way I can,” said a participant. “They helped me grow up. It’s the least I can do,” said another.

Public Trust conducted the research to ensure its Personal Assist service was still meeting the needs of customers. The service frees up time and removes the stress of managing financial and property administration if someone can’t handle these themselves or is weighed down with other responsibilities.

“With the prevalence of financial abuse and the growing health challenges faced by older persons, not to mention the time and emotional challenges faced by those caring for them, it’s important that the service hits with mark with easing the burden,” says Julian Travaglia.

“We can celebrate and benefit from the true value of older persons best when these challenges are addressed.”

Contact: Ian Letham, Content & Communications Consultant

Phone: 022 070 0979