You may have seen a recent news story about two elderly individuals with dementia who had $1.6 million siphoned from their estate by their sons. No criminal charges have been laid and a granddaughter, *Chloe (who happens to also be the daughter of one of the sons), has called for specific elder abuse legislation to be introduced which would make elder abuse a criminal offence.
This firm has assisted a number of individuals who have been affected by elder abuse or whose aged family member has been exploited. This abuse can be physical, psychological, sexual, by neglect or, the most common form, financial.
Our current legal system does not adequately support people who want to blow the whistle on potential financial exploitation. Police have been shown to typically respond by saying, “This is a family matter… see a lawyer.”
Many feel that elder abuse is at the same stage as domestic violence and child abuse was 20 years ago, and perpetrators think they are above the law.
Lobbying and advocacy by aged care advocates led to the 1 September 2015 Inquiry into Elder Abuse in New South Wales and the 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) Report: Elder Abuse – a National Legal Response. These enquiries highlighted a litany of examples of serious physical abuse, financial abuse, neglect and exploitation of older people.
Specific elder abuse laws and mandatory reporting introduced in the US state of California in 1986 cover physical, mental and financial abuse, as well as neglect and false imprisonment. Mandatory reporters include caregivers, front line police officers, priests and bank tellers.
Elder abuse should be viewed as a crime. Police need greater authority to act in elder abuse cases. New elder abuse laws would significantly improve the response by local police and act as a deterrent to would be exploiters of the elderly.
We support those who are calling for specific legislation which would make elder abuse a criminal offence.
*Chloe’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
If you or a family member have been affected by elder abuse, contact Catherine Henry Lawyers today to see how we can help.