The 15th of June 2018 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It is an international annual event to encourage the wider community to raise awareness about elder abuse.
What is Elder Abuse?
The World Health Organisation has defined elder abuse as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person”.
Elder Abuse can take many different forms, including physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and financial abuse. It can be the result of intentional actions against the elderly person or unintentional neglect.
What is Elder Financial Abuse?
Elder Financial Abuse is the illegal or improper use of an elderly person’s property or finances. At Coutts, we have unfortunately come across situations where the elderly people in our community have experienced Elder Financial Abuse. Often the financial abuse is at the hands of someone who the elderly person has trusted or had a relationship with.
An elderly person might experience Elder Financial Abuse in the following scenarios:
- Being denied access or control of their own funds.
- Having money taken from their bank account without permission.
- Having their property or possessions taken or sole without their permission.
- Being forced to change their Will or implement Enduring Power of Attorney documents against their wishes.
Identifying Elder Financial Abuse
Some of the signs of Elder Financial Abuse listed by the NSW Elder Abuse Helpline & Resource Unit include:
- The unexplained disappearance of money or belongings.
- The unexplained inability to pay for normal living costs like food, clothing and utilities.
- Stockpiling of unpaid bills.
- Significant withdrawals of money from the bank.
- Sudden changes to their Will or Power of Attorney documents.
- Sudden additions of signatories to bank accounts.
- A disparity between the elderly person’s living conditions and money.
What you can do to help prevent Elder Abuse
The NSW Elder Abuse Helpline & Resource Unit has listed a few things that we can all do as members of the community to help prevent Elder Abuse.
Listen and Intervene
Take time to listen to elderly people and their caregivers and acknowledge what they tell you. Ask questions to gather further information and intervene when you suspect that there may be elder abuse.
Encourage and Advise
Encourage the elderly person to be socially connected by being an active member of their community and advise connection with community groups, churches and social services in the local area.
Camden Council have published the ‘2018 Camden Seniors Lifestyle Directory’ which contains a comprehensive list of support services, social groups and leisure activities that members of our elderly community can participate in – click here.
Support and Advocate
If the elderly person suffers from cognitive impairment such as dementia, offer your support to the elderly person and assist them to find an advocate to help them with their living arrangements, belonging and finances.
The elderly people in our community have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to live in a safe environment. It is our responsibility to assist them to feel empowered to make their own decisions and choices and to speak up when we suspect that a member of our community is experiencing Elder Abuse.
If someone you know is being abused, you can make a report by calling the NSW Elder Abuse Helpline & Resource Unit on 1800 628 221.
For further information contact: