Financial elder abuse
Financial elder abuse involves someone in a position of trust taking or misusing an elderly person’s money, property or assets. Everybody has a right to feel safe, and it may be difficult for victims of elder abuse to talk about their situation.
Research commissioned by State Trustees found that up to five per cent of Australians over 65 have experienced financial abuse.
The research also found that elderly women over the age of 80 are most at risk and that their own children are likely to the most common perpetrators.
Other characteristics of elderly people most vulnerable to financial abuse include:
- Diminished capacity due to dementia and other related illnesses;
- Isolation and dependence on others; and
- Reliance on others for translation, undertaking transactions and services relating to the management of their finances, particularly if they are of a diverse cultural background.
Recognising the signs
There are various warning signs that can suggest that an elderly person’s finances are being abused.
The following signs may indicate financial elder abuse:
- The elderly person has been refused possession of money that belongs to them;
- Someone borrows money from an elderly person but refuses to return it;
- Bank account balances and bill payment details are being withheld;
- Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts belonging to the elderly person that cannot be explained;
- A power of attorney document is being used to withhold or misuse finances;
- Unauthorised access by a third party to the elderly person’s pension, other payments or credit card;
- The elderly person is unaware of or is bullied into making changes to financial or legal documents;
- The elderly person is accumulating unpaid bills despite possessing adequate financial resources;
- The inclusion of additional names to the elderly person’s ATM card;
- Bank statements are no longer being received by the elderly person;
- Some belongings or property of the elderly person have gone missing without explanation; and
- Documentation about financial arrangements relating to the elderly person have gone missing.
Every Victorian should be aware of the risks of financial elder abuse. It is important to plan ahead and put things in place to protect yourself should that you lose your decision making capacity.
At State Trustees, we strongly believe that prevention and early intervention is the key to making a difference for the ageing Victorian population. We urge anyone who thinks they could be at a risk of elder abuse now or in the future to seek professional help with their financial matters.
Speak with us about how we can help. If you are in Melbourne call us on 03 9667 6444, or if you are based outside Melbourne call us on 1300 138 672.