World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, on 15th June, is a United Nations event to raise awareness of this widespread issue. How we can protect our older family members from financial abuse? Louise Southwell, Partner in Coodes Solicitors, specialising in the law which effects the elderly, comments.
Older people can be particularly vulnerable to financial abuse and sadly it is a widespread but often overlooked issue. It can involve someone taking an older person’s money or possessions without their consent. In many cases the abuse does not come to light until after the person has died. So, how can you help to protect ageing parents, grandparents or other family members who could be affected?
Have difficult conversations
Most of us avoid discussing issues relating to death, dying or ageing because it is uncomfortable. However, having conversations with older relatives early on means you can ensure that you get the proper legal advice and documentation in place to support them. This will allow their wishes to be enshrined for the future. Ensuring their financial wishes are documented before dementia or other cognitive issues may arise is an important step in preventing financial abuse.
Carefully vet carers
The number of financial abuse cases by carers is relatively low. However, they are in a unique position to perpetrate the crime. Unfortunately there are some ‘bad apples’ so ensure you use a reputable agency and listen to recommendations from people you know and trust. If you are concerned about a particular caregiver, raise the issue as early as possible.
Simply being a regular presence in your relative’s life cango a long way towards safeguarding them from financial exploitation. It is much easier to detect signs of financial abuse first hand. If you live close, visit often. This will give you the opportunity to determine how they are doing physically, emotionally and financially.
Pay attention to any behavioural or physical changes. Weight loss, weight gain, a withdrawn demeanour and secrecy about finances can all be signs of abuse occurring.
Sadly the problem of elderly financial abuse will not go away. However, if we all look out for our own relatives we can all do out bit to protect them from exploitation.
For more information on these issues, please contact Louise Southwell, Coodes Solicitors on 01736 362294 or email@example.com