Hurting and helpless – this is the shocking face of elder abuse


Imagine yourself at age 70 or 80 … feeling afraid, unsafe and confused. At the mercy of people who hurt you, steal what little money you have, threaten you, shout at you or treat you with contempt. Even if you could fight back, you won’t. Because the abuser is most likely your son or daughter or grandchild. How can you report your own flesh and blood to the authorities?

Many elders in abusive situations don’t know who to turn to for help, or how to escape.

They may live far away from community help centres, or are too frail to leave their home. So, they remain silent … keeping the shameful secret of elder abuse within the family.

At Tafta, we’re committed to stopping elder abuse in all its horrendous forms – physical, sexual, emotional, financial or neglect. And the first step is to get the problem out into the open.

Launched in November 2022, the National Toll-free Elder Abuse Helpline had already received over 2 324 calls by the end of September 2023.

One of the most heartbreaking cases was that of an 80-year-old grandmother. In the early stages of dementia, she was being sexually abused by her grandson. She told her granddaughter that someone touches her in the night but she can’t remember the details the next day. Fortunately, the young girl was able to call us for help.

Another call was from a 64-year-old man, whose son is on drugs. The son demands money from his dad and physically assaults him if the elderly man doesn’t hand over his pension. But he is afraid to even report his son to the police.

These are the desperate people who turn to our Helpline to stop elder abuse.

And we, in turn, depend on concerned members of the public to help us keep the lines open.

Because, even though our helpline is free to use, it’s not free to operate. Apart from the cost of the calls, we also provide trained crisis counsellors, experienced in cases of abuse. They offer advice and follow up with written referrals to services nation-wide to ensure elders get the help they need where they are.

Please will you be part of this support group – by making a donation towards the cost now? Your gift of R250, R500, or any amount you can spare will ensure that elders in distress can depend on help that’s just a phone-call away.

It’s not only a powerful weapon in the battle against elder abuse, it’s a comforting lifeline for elders … helping them to feel safer and more in control of their own lives. That’s the gift you give when you support this vital service.