Age Concern New Zealand This Month 45

Press Release – Age Concern

This month our pre-election briefing to Ministers, MPs and political parties was sent out, along with our questions for political candidates. We look forward to hearing how party hopefuls plan to promote the major needs of older New Zealanders. We were …Number 45: October 2011

This Month

This month our pre-election briefing to Ministers, MPs and political parties was sent out, along with our questions for political candidates. We look forward to hearing how party hopefuls plan to promote the major needs of older New Zealanders.

We were invited to make an application to the Strategic Leadership Institute to be a case study for its course for corporate directors, taking place in Queenstown November 9-10. Our application was accepted.

We have spent time providing information about Age Concern to a case writer. It has involved several team and Board members from national office and Age Concern Wellington and Auckland responding to questions through interview.

We were pleased with the media coverage our Patron’s Award competition received this month. This included an article in The Dominion Post, the Wellingtonian and an interview on Hutt Radio. See more event coverage below.

This month we also:

• Reminded people who have their New Zealand Superannuation paid directly into a bank account to check they are receiving concessions on bank charges.
• Reminded New Zealand businesses older people are important consumers.
• Advised older people to seek advice before disposing of their assets
• Applauded the Wellington District Health board for dropping telephone assessments for home help and called on other District Health Boards to follow suit.

Election 2011 is fast approaching – these are the questions we are asking candidates.

1. Some older people can’t afford to go to their GP or to the dentist. What will you do to make essential health care more affordable?

2. Elder abuse and neglect can cost older people their independence, life-savings, health and security. What will you do to help Age Concern combat elder abuse?

3. Older people in hospital and in residential care are not always treated with dignity and respect. What will you do to promote dignity in care?

4. Ageist attitudes lead to elder abuse. What will you do to challenge ageism and promote respect for older people?

5. Age Concern’s specialist elder abuse prevention services are stretched to capacity. What will you do to help Age Concern cope with demand for our services? What will you do to help us establish services in areas that do not have one?

6. Loneliness and social isolation can cost older people their health and independence, and more than 40,000 older New Zealanders are severely and chronically lonely. What will you do to help them stay socially connected?

7. Some older people can’t afford to eat well or keep warm. What will you do to help older people in hardship?

8. Older people want home support that allows them to live safely and with dignity in their own homes. What will you do to ensure older people get the home support they need?
Age Concern New Zealand is thrilled to announce the winners in this year’s Patrons Award online photography competition are Phil Reid, of the Dominion Post and Rebecca Duncan.

The result was announced at Age Concern’s National Office by Age Concern Patron Judge Ken Mason.

Judge Mason described the event as a resounding success.
“Older people are a significant part of the New Zealand community and make a valuable contribution to this country. They are to be admired and respected.”

Age Concern’s National office was transformed into a gallery as more than 60 competition entries graced the walls – all challenging negative stereotypes about growing older.
Selected Members of Parliament, Government staff and other invited guests voted on a shortlist of ten photographs; five from the media and five from the public.
The media included photographers Phil Reid, Alison Brown, Ross Giblin, Chris Banks and Ben Watson.
The event was a highlight of Age Concern Awareness Week and part of International Day of Older Person’s celebrations.

Could you save money by shopping? Age Concern New Zealand says ‘yes’.

People who have their New Zealand Superannuation paid directly into a bank account should check they are receiving concessions on bank charges, says Age Concern National President Liz Baxendine.

Despite major retail banks agreeing not to charge fees on accounts where New Zealand Superannuation is regularly received, this may not happen automatically.
In some cases this concession must be applied for, advises Mrs Baxendine.

“People should make sure they apply and check that they are receiving their entitlement. Be sure to do this when you first go onto Superannuation. Some banks also extend these concessions to overseas pensions. Check that too,” she says.

Will seniors see red, or yellow?
Age Concern New Zealand reminds businesses New Zealand’s 600,000 older people are important consumers.
This follows the delivery of Telecom’s new significantly smaller directories to Wellington homes last week.
Age Concern New Zealand President Liz Baxendine said the scaled down page-size could make the book difficult for older people to read, “this is particularly unfortunate for older people who are not internet savvy and rely heavily on the book.”
Mrs Baxendine hopes the smaller font does not mean older people, many of whom live on little other than Government Superannuation, rely on Telecom’s 018 directory.
“Older people count. We form a significant part of New Zealand’s demographic make-up and our population is aging. It makes good economic sense for people marketing products and services to take older people’s needs into consideration.”
Telecom’s phone books are produced by Yellow. Age Concern New Zealand attempted to contact Yellow’s Communications Manager to question if the smaller sized books will be rolled out across the country.

Age Concern New Zealand applauds the Wellington district health board for dropping telephone assessments of people in need of home help and calls on other District Health Boards to follow suit.

Starting December 5, older clients will be assessed face-to face, as was routine prior to late last year. Some older people had complained their home help was cut after a brief phone interview. Age Concern National President Liz Baxendine was concerned senior citizens had been reluctant to say how much they relied on the help.

“Older people can be self-effacing. Phone interviews are not a good way to fully understand a person’s circumstances.” Mrs Baxendine also says older people can be especially private, meaning they do not want to go in to personal health issues with a stranger at the end of a phone.

“Tony Ryall needs to ensure his other DHBs stop using inappropriate phone assessments for over 65-year-olds and that older people who have had their home help cut as the result of a phone interview are able to be reassessed in person,” she says.

Following the abolition of Gift Duty, Age Concern New Zealand reminds older to think carefully before disposing of their assets.

Age Concern’s honorary solicitor Jock Nicolson is concerned older people may be encouraged to give away too many assets prematurely.

One reason for this could be so that if they go into care their assets will fall below the threshold level of personal assets to ensure they are eligible for state funding of their care.

However, a gifting limit of $6000 per year applies for each of the five years before applying for a residential care subsidy. Gifts in excess of $6000 in each of the five years preceding entry into care are brought back into account in assessing eligibility.

Prior to October 1 an individual could only gift $27,000 each year without incurring gift duty.

Mr Nicolson says he is concerned older people may be influenced by family members or others, into giving away more than they are comfortable with, or is sensible for them.

“Giving away assets prematurely or excessively could lead to an older person losing their independence, which is essential for their well-being.”

He fears older people would be reluctant to ask for money back, should they live longer than they had expected or incur unexpected expenses.

“The last thing older people want to do is to go along cap in hand and say to the family ‘I need some financial help’.”
His advice is clear, “if you’re going to gift property, think carefully about your own needs and seek proper professional advice before doing so.”

Gift duty was introduced in 1885 to raise revenue and discourage people from giving away their assets before they died. It ran in tandem with death duty which has since been abolished.
Government cited high administration costs as a key reason for changing the legislation.

ENDS

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