Elder Abuse – How can I prevent it?


When you read the above headline, you may immediately think of an elderly person being physically abused by a carer.  I usually think of someone that the elderly person trusted to look after them in their old age taking advantage of them by the improper use of their property, finances and other assets without their consent.

Many elderly people are at risk of abuse.  Many are dependent on others, often as a result of dementia, poor physical health or cannot read or write in English.  ‘Inheritance impatience’ is the main driver behind this type of abuse.  In some instances, the abuser is being found guilty of criminal behaviour.

How can you prevent it happening to you or one of your loved ones?  By appointing more than one person in your Power of Attorney, you can ensure that any decisions made on your behalf must be made jointly.  Secondly, you can limit the powers you give such as the power to sell property or maybe limit the amount of money that can be withdrawn from bank accounts.

Elderly abuse is not a ‘family issue’.  If you notice that something isn’t quite right, then you should speak up.  All family members, friends, neighbours, carers, solicitors and financial services professionals should be aware of the warning signs which can include difficulty with paying bills, large withdrawals from bank accounts, unusual activity or unexplained disappearances of assets, even social withdrawal can all be red flags with the biggest being a change to a Will.

Just last week I was told of a banker who had noticed that one of her customers was making withdrawals every day of the maximum allowable per day.  When quizzed, the old lady told her that she had to empty her bank account to give it to the lovely lady who was visiting her so that she could pay her bills for her.  Luckily the bank officer contacted the Police and even though large amounts of money had already been handed over, the elderly lady did not drain her bank account entirely.

Until tougher penalties are imposed on perpetrators, this problem will probably continue to escalate.  Even with tougher penalties though, once the asset or money is gone, it’s gone and it is quite unlikely that it will be returned.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for our vulnerable elderly.  If you see or notice something, speak up.  Protect yourself by making sure that you have appointed more than one trusted person in your Power of Attorney.



If you would like to know more, please contact one of our friendly staff at Bambrick Legal today:

  • Call us on 08 8362 5269
  • Email admin@bambricklegal.com.au
  • Fill in our enquiry form here
  • Visit our office at 133-135 Rundle Street,, Kent Town SA 5067