Today is World Elder Abuse Day and while that is no cause for celebration, it is a significant milestone date that should make all of us stop and think; do I know anyone who has suffered from such abuse? Could I have done anything to prevent this from happening? How can I recognise the signs of financial elder abuse?
As CEO of State Trustees I had the privilege of announcing an important partnership between State Trustees and Alzheimer’s Australia Vic today.
The partnership will educate professionals from both organisations who work with older Australians to better understand dementia and to help identify and prevent financial elder abuse – an issue of great importance to both organisations.
State Trustees and Alzheimer’s Australia Vic often provide services to people at the same time, many of whom have a range of needs resulting from the onset of dementia.
Our partnership will allow us to work together, to identify potential issues sooner, and protect those in our community who are most vulnerable to financial elder abuse.
As the population ages, the number of vulnerable Victorians increases; elder abuse is one of the most serious social issues affecting Australians today.
Financial elder abuse occurs when someone takes advantage of a personal relationship with an elderly person to exploit them for financial gain, such as theft, or obtaining property by deception. Commons signs include missing belongings, fear, stress and anxiety expressed by an older person, and significant bank withdrawals or transfers, to name a few.
Tragically, it is often perpetrated by loved ones, it is sometimes coupled with mental and physical abuse and can happen anywhere, from family homes to aged care facilities.
Due to the hidden nature of the crime, it’s difficult to get a sense of the real numbers involved across Australia, however, State Trustees’ research shows that at least five percent of people in Victoria over the age of 65 have experienced financial abuse, most commonly perpetrated – tragically – by their children.
Unfortunately in many cases, State Trustees is asked to step in after much of the damage has been done, and at this stage it is difficult and often costly to recover lost property or money.
My experience in this area leads me to believe the problem is more widespread than what is currently reported, and will continue to grow due to the ageing population and increases to life expectancy. Sufferers of dementia are less aware of the abuse, and are often not in a position to address it if they are.
It’s important for every Victorian to plan ahead and put mechanisms in place to protect themselves in the event they lose their decision-making capacity. When someone is diagnosed with dementia, there is often a small window of time that represents an opportunity for a person to protect themselves.
State Trustees is well placed effectively help people who are suffering the early stages of dementia to ensure they’re well-protected, and that their legal and financial affairs are in order.
With State Trustees and Alzheimer’s Australia Vic jointly addressing this issue, we will create greater awareness, learning and understanding within the community and also creating opportunities for employees of both organisations to understanding of the impact of dementia-related illnesses, and identifying abuse and creating safeguards for elders and their families.
More useful information about Financial Elder Abuse can be found on the State Trustees website: https://www.statetrustees.com.au/community/financial-elder-abuse/
Categories: State Trustees