Together let’s make elder abuse stop
If you witness violence, or are worried that an older person is at immediate risk, call the police on triple zero (000).
Sadly, elder abuse is a serious and growing concern in our community.
Elder abuse can take many forms including financial, physical, psychological, sexual and neglect. However, financial elder abuse is the most common form of abuse experienced by older Australians.
The Public Trustee works with government agencies and organisations to help raise awareness of elder abuse because it is vital, that as a community we value and protect the rights of ageing Queenslanders.
What is financial elder abuse?
Financial elder abuse is the misuse or theft of an older person’s money or assets.
Each year the Public Trustee supports thousands of Queenslanders with reduced decision-making capacity, and we advocate on behalf of those who have fallen victim to the misappropriation of funds.
Some examples of financial elder abuse include:
- Forcing an elderly person to sign over their property or assets
- Misusing or taking an elderly person’s money or credit cards
- Using undue influence or deception to change the terms of an elderly person’s Will or enduring power of attorney (EPA)
- Forging an elderly person’s signature.
Key tips to protect yourself against financial elder abuse
In times of low income or unemployment, some family members can become dependent on an older person for financial support under the guise of caring for and protecting them. Here are some steps to help safeguard you or a loved one against elder abuse.
- Having a Will, an enduring power of attorney (EPA) and an advanced health directive in place
- Make sure you get independent legal advice about your Will and EPA.
- Consider including detailed directions in your EPA about the types of decisions you would like made if you lose decision-making capacity, such as your preferred living arrangements.
- Consider choosing two people you can trust to act in your best interests. In your EPA, specifically direct them to consult each other and keep each other informed when carrying out duties.
- Ensure any loans are legally binding.
What to consider when choosing an attorney
The Public Trustee recommends asking yourself the following questions when choosing an attorney:
- Does your attorney have the time to take on the responsibility?
- Will they act according to any limits or conditions within the EPA?
- Do they have the business and financial skills required to undertake the task?
- Are their interests likely to conflict with your interests?
- Can they be impartial?
- Can they be trusted to act in a way that both promotes and safeguards your rights, interests and opportunities?
- Are they accessible and accountable?
Your attorney must also recognise your right to privacy and respect your views and wishes, taking into account your values and your existing relationships.
If you have any concerns about your attorney or the person you propose to appoint, then you should consider appointing a professional, independent attorney.
What to do if you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse
You are not alone. Support is available.
If you suspect that an older person you know is being abused, or if you are experiencing elder abuse yourself, call the Elder Abuse Helpline. Anyone can make the call and you can remain anonymous if you prefer.
The Elder Abuse Helpline provides confidential information, support and referrals to appropriate services including legal, community support and advocacy services.
Phone the Elder Abuse Helpline on 1300 651 192
For more information about elder abuse and support services, visit www.qld.gov.au/knowthesigns