What Is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day?
9 June 2021 by Andrea Godfrey
On the 15th June, it is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). The world comes together with one aim – to send out a message that abuse of an older person will not be tolerated. WEAAD was created by a United Nations resolution in 2011 to raise awareness of elder abuse and to get the message across that there are many organisations that can help in these cases.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse can come in many forms: physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse. The elderly population is particularly vulnerable because of frailty and the inability to defend themselves. There are also cases where they are dependent on the abuser for their care etc so they simply accept the abuse because of their fear of having no one to care for them.
What are the signs of Financial Abuse?
The most common yet often overlooked form of abuse that the legal profession assists with is that of financial abuse. All members of SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) are trained in older client care and how to recognise the warning signs of elderly abuse. The abuse can be where a relative or friend is siphoning money from the elder person, suggesting they transfer assets such as a house into their name, or even forcing them to change their Will to benefit the abuser. With the increase in illnesses such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s the abuse is sadly becoming more frequent.
What can I do if I suspect abuse?
The first step should be to get the abuse stopped as soon as possible. Action on Elder Abuse is a charity that can help. SFE members are expert Elder Abuse solicitors who are experienced in abuse cases and maybe to help you. You can also contact your local authority (Adult Social Care) as they will have policies in place to protect those at risk.
What steps can I take to protect this from happening to me in the future?
There are legal safeguards that can be put in place now to protect you if you ever become vulnerable or unable to deal with your own affairs.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (“LPA”) are legal documents that allow you to appoint people (called your attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. There are LPAs for both property & finances (dealing with your bank accounts, investments, property, etc) and health & welfare (dealing with medical treatments, care decisions, and even giving and refusing life support). Property & finance LPAs can be used if you lose capacity or at your direction by your attorneys. It is absolutely vital that you choose attorneys that you can trust and this is why it is imperative that you use a solicitor when preparing your LPA’s. We can explain all the safeguards you can put in place and what you need to think about in your choice of attorney.