Tackling the complex issue of elder financial abuse

National Seniors Australia says more needs to be done to increase awareness of elder abuse, including financial and psychological abuse.

Chief Advocate, Ian Henschke told 2GB radio’s George and Paul his organisation regularly heard stories of financial abuse and remained committed to tackling the issue.

“We know that the age that older Australians need help and when they tend to go into aged care is in that period between 80 and 84”, he said.

“This is when people are at their frailest and most vulnerable and to take advantage of them at that time is just awful.”

Mr Henschke said that financial elder abuse came in many forms and sometimes involved complex family situations and issues, such as addiction. He pointed out that many parents found themselves at risk of elder abuse due to situations that were often out of their control.

Mr Henschke said that while many older Australians were reluctant to “go against their family”, it was important we started viewing elder financial abuse for what it is – a crime.

“You cannot justify theft. It’s just not the right thing to do, particularly when you’re taking advantage of someone who’s vulnerable – and these people have loved you and looked after you all your life.”

At the recent National Elder Abuse Conference in Brisbane, National Seniors Australia CEO, Professor John McCallum said it was vital we help shore up the financial defences of older Australians to combat elder financial abuse.

Mr Henschke reiterated Professor McCallum’s calls for increased awareness and support, as well as the need for enduring powers of attorney.

“These are the powers of attorney where you’ve got control over financial affairs. We need to look at that and have that tightened up”, he said.

“I would like to see – and many people who are involved with this, would like to see two names on every financial power of attorney.”

Mr Henschke said that older Australians should take steps now to help protect themselves against elder financial abuse.

“I think people listening, they need to start thinking about this ahead of time and say, I’m going to make sure that I’ve got myself set up and have two people involved in looking after my finances ahead of time.”

You can listen to the full interview below.

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