Research has shown that elderly abuse, neglect, violence, and exploitation is one of the biggest issues facing senior citizens and it is a growing problem. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15th June 2015 highlighted the fact that nearly £25 million in cash and property was reported stolen from vulnerable elderly people in 2013, which included elderly people being pressured into giving away their homes and cash or assets being stolen or taken without the owner's knowledge.
Most worrying with an elderly population, and the rise in the incidence of dementia in the UK, is that over 78% of abuse occurs after the age of 70 and that women are two thirds more likely than men to become victims.
There are renewed calls to try and tackle the problem and Lin Whitehead, Partner and Head of Private Client Department at Clapham & Collinge was given a golden opportunity by ITV Anglia to put the spotlight on the issue in a television interview on 17th June 2015. Lin explained that any one of us can be a victim, especially if we are caught in a momentary lack of concentration, or are recently bereaved, feeling isolated or lonely. The key is to make sure that people do not become isolated or too dependent on one person, and that they take steps as early as possible to put controls over their finances and affairs in place, e.g. through preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney or by talking to their bank manager to ensure the incidence of fraud is minimised.
Lin also stressed the importance of considering appointing an independent professional as an Attorney, who would be certain to act impartially and who would be unable to benefit themselves under their professional code of ethics, as lots of people acting on someone's behalf can succumb to temptation which is less likely for solicitors who handle thousands of pounds of clients' money on a daily basis and who are insured.
If you have any concerns regarding abuse you may be suffering or on someone else's behalf these can be raised with Norfolk Police, Adult Safeguarding, the Office of the Public Guardian or Action on Elder Abuse Charity.