Why preventing elder abuse is everyone’s responsibility
Louise Brown 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 | United Nations is held on 15th June every year across the world. This globally recognised day is held to highlight the abuse and neglect of older people. Elder abuse can take many forms from violence to financial abuse and the COVID-19 pandemic has put older people at greater risk of abuse due to isolation and the need to rely on the help of others.
What is financial abuse?
Financial abuse can range from someone stealing cash from an older person’s purse to attempting an them to change their Will.
The risk of older people becoming isolated
The Covid-19 pandemic has created more isolation for older people and here in Cornwall, many people live in rural locations. In towns and villages, older people often live on their own and are unable to get out and access local transport and amenities.
While many older people have family close by, others may not have that support and although there are many volunteers and good neighbours, it can be easy for an older person to be overlooked in busy communities.
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What to do if you suspect an older person is at risk of financial abuse
If you have older people living nearby, either on their own or as a couple, make yourself known to them as someone who can help, and be aware of their activities. For example, someone turning up regularly to carry out work in their garden may well be an agreed arrangement. 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.
“No person, young or old, is expendable…Older people have the same rights to life and health as everyone else” Secretary-General António Guterres