On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (15th June 2018), Clare McLeish of Coodes Solicitors says it is everyone’s responsibility to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.
Established by the United Nations, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is an annual event to promote the protection of older people against abuse. Elder abuse can take many forms – from violence to financial abuse – and is sadly often carried out by those who have been entrusted to care for the victim.
Financial abuse is perhaps the most overlooked form of elder abuse. It can range from someone stealing money from an older person’s purse or forging cheques to attempting to persuade an older person to change their Will. Older people are especially vulnerable to financial abuse so it is important that we are all vigilant so we can spot the signs.
Here in Cornwall, many of us live in rural locations. For older people, this can add to their isolation and put them at greater risk. Others may live in towns and villages that now include a high proportion of holiday homes, and have transient residents in summer and become deserted out of season. A lack of public transport can mean older people do not have the opportunity to get out and access amenities.
While many older people have family close by, others may not have that support. It is everyone’s responsibility to be more neighbourly and keep an eye out for older people in our communities.
If you have an older person living nearby, either on their own or as a couple, make an effort to be neighbourly. An older person with money can bring all sorts of people out of the woodwork, so keep an eye out for them. Perhaps, for example, you might notice someone suddenly turning up regularly to carry out work in their garden. Don’t jump to conclusions – there may well be a good explanation. However, it would be worth chatting to your neighbour to check what the situation is and make sure they are comfortable with it.
If you are concerned that they are at risk of financial abuse you can encourage them to get advice and support. This could be from a charity, such as Age UK, or from social services or a local solicitor. We are always happy to help and refer people on for support. We can also advise them on their Will and about putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney, which will offer more protection and help ensure their wishes are followed.
When you get old, I am sure you will want to know there is someone looking out for you. With a little bit of effort we can all do our bit to help protect the oldest people in our communities.
For more information, contact Clare McLeish on 01872 246200 or firstname.lastname@example.org