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4 ways to keep safe from of elder abuse

One of the great things about being part of a community is how we can help each other out in times of need.

Perhaps you’ve heard of elder financial abuse and have concerns that a friend, family member, neighbour, or acquaintance is experiencing it.

If that’s the case it’s important to show you care enough to check that everything is alright.

Elder financial abuse is the illegal or improper use of an older person’s property, finances, and other assets without their informed consent or where consent is obtained by fraud, manipulation, or duress.

If you suspect someone is facing an elder financial abuse situation here are four tips on how to best express your care and concern.

  • Talk to the person about it

Show you care enough to raise your concerns with the person. Be aware that they may find it difficult or embarrassing to talk about so it’s best to have the conversation in a place where they feel safe and able to talk freely.

Let the person know they don’t have to put up with any kind of abusive behaviour and that they have your support.

  • Listen to what they have to say

Give them plenty of time to respond to your concerns. They may need time to think about the concerns you’ve raised. Listen and respect their wishes and their right to make their own decisions.

  • Let them know help is available

Even if they decide to do nothing straightaway, reassure them that your help and support is available if they need it at any time.

  • Share with them contact details of support services

Having access to the national elder abuse hotline may help the person take steps towards making a decision to get assistance. They can raise issues, get advice, and obtain referrals if needed.

The national elder abuse hotline is 1800 ELDERHelp or 1800 353 374.  

The good news is there is a growing number of resources to help people prevent elder financial abuse from occurring. For instance, this may include seeking independent advice and drafting a family agreement if someone decides to transfer their home to a child in exchange for a granny flat and care.

It may also cover clearly documenting whether money given is a loan or a gift.

Another way of preventing elder financial abuse from occurring is to be aware of what it is and what might be a red flag if it is occurring.

There are now plenty of resources available online that explain what elder financial abuse might look like. It can take different forms.

These resources also highlight some of the situations and circumstances that might alert friends, family members, neighbours and members of churches and sporting clubs to the possibility that elder financial abuse is occurring.

If you suspect someone you know may be experiencing elder financial abuse you can also ring the national hotline to chat with someone about it.

Becoming more informed about how to approach someone in your community is a good first step towards showing you care.