With our ageing population elder abuse is becoming increasingly more common. In WA, elder abuse is defined as “any act which causes harm to an older person and occurs within an informal relationship of trust, such as family or friends”.
Elderly people face a higher risk of abuse, exploitation and neglect. This makes elderly people more vulnerable than the general population.
In some situations, a crime has been committed against elderly members of the community who are unable to escape, report or even acknowledge mistreatment. Often the perpetrator is a family member of the elder.
Elder abuse can take one or more of the following forms:
Financial elder abuse can be very deliberate, or it can arise through poor financial decision making. For these reasons, it is important that elders should be very careful who they allow to control their financial affairs.
To reduce the risk of financial elder abuse, the elderly should:
- have an up to date and valid Will;
- have a valid Enduring Power of Attorney;
- seek professional independent advice;
- not give any gift or loans until they have calculated that they have sufficient funds to meet future age care wants, needs and expenses;
- before making any loans determine if the loan is to be repaid, and if so, engage a lawyer to prepare a loan agreement;
- properly document in writing any living arrangements and any financial contribution to properties.
If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, or has a question about elder abuse, please call the Elder Abuse Helpline on 1800 655 566 for a confidential discussion.
Tim Hayter, Principal, Mid West Lawyers
This information is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought for your particular circumstances.