Coodes Solicitors joins in National Elder Abuse week

Wed 15th Jun 2011

Experts at Cornish law firm Coodes Solicitors have voiced concerns about a rising number of older people being financially abused in the county.

Marking World Elder Abuse Day on Wednesday 15 June, partners Colin Hunter and Louise Southwell have been working with Cornwall Council and the charity Age Concern in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to explore the issues.

According to statistics from Cornwall Council’s Safeguarding Adults Unit, 28% of calls made last year alerting the authority about possible abuse of a vulnerable adult were related to financial abuse.

Both Ms Southwell, who heads Coodes’ elderly client team, and Mr Hunter, head of dispute resolution, have noticed a rise in the number of financial abuse cases they are dealing with.

Mr Hunter said: “Financial abuse often goes unnoticed for some time as the vulnerable adult may be deliberately isolated from friends and family. Many people are not aware that their actions may amount to financial abuse.”

Ms Southwell added: “In many cases that we deal with, financial abuse starts as a single incident but often escalates into a more regular pattern of behaviour.

“This can escalate where older people are left thousands of pounds out of pocket, or even struggling to live independently.”

Perpetrators of financial abuse can often be family members including children, grandchildren or spouses, some of whom feel a sense of “entitlement” to inheritance.

Examples include taking money from an older person’s account from a cash point to cover time or expenses for running errands, overcharging when buying something or asking for money in return for a social visit.

Other examples can include using their property without permission, asking an older person to sign something without them understanding what it is and misuse of Power of Attorney.

Coodes is getting involved with a week of “Say No To Abuse” activities from June 13, led by Cornwall Council’s Safeguarding Adults Unit and partner agencies.

Jon Dunicliff, Cornwall’s Safeguarding Adults Coordinator, said: “Everyone has the right to live their lives free from abuse or neglect.

“We are pleased to see Age Concern and Coodes joining in a wide range of events for World Elder Abuse awareness day which give a clear message that the abuse of vulnerable adults is totally unacceptable.

“Raising people’s general awareness about the potential for abuse to happen is the first vital step in preventing it.

“We urge anyone suffering such abuse or anyone who is worried that someone they know might be suffering from abuse to report it themselves or to contact someone they trust, which could be a friend, family member, carer, doctor or nurse , social worker, charity worker or a member of the police who can then report it for you.”

Are you a loved one or individual concerned about elder abuse?

Call Cornwall Council’s helpline 0300 1234 131 to speak to someone locally about your concerns.

For legal advice on financial abuse, contact Colin Hunter 01726 874700, colin.hunter@coodes.co.uk, or Louise Southwell 01736 362294, louise.southwell@coodes.co.uk.

Wed 15th Jun 2011

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