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Elder Abuse

Catherine Henry Lawyers
Catherine Henry Lawyers

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Addressing elder abuse

Catherine Henry Lawyers specialise in resolving disputes arising out of complex situations of elder abuse and have done so for more than 20 years. Elder abuse is a human rights issue: each person, regardless of age, has a right to live free from violence and abuse.

What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse has been described by WHO as ‘a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person”. * World Health Organization, The Toronto Declaration on the Global Prevention of Elder Abuse (2002)

How we can help?

Situations we can help with include:

  • You or your family member has gifted their home or money in exchange for promises of accommodation or care – and the situation has broken down
  • An Attorney has misused or is misusing their powers under an Enduring Power of Attorney
  • You or your senior family member is being exploited by another family member or other person and financial and emotional abuse is occurring
  • A family dispute has arisen over who should make decisions for an elderly person who has lost capacity and the elderly person is suffering as a result
  • A third party is trying to ingratiate themselves into the lives of a loved one, for example, by marriage, for the purpose of financial gain.

We offer expert advice and can provide you with full representation, if necessary.

Appropriate legal action may be necessary

Catherine Henry Lawyers have assisted many people who have been affected by elder abuse or whose aged family member has been victimised.

Action to address systematic and ongoing financial abuse may require removing an Attorney who has been misusing an Enduring Power of Attorney.

We know which action to take to stop the abuse and to try to recover property or money.

The importance of stopping the abuse

In many cases, a failure to stop elder abuse will lead to an elderly person facing, not only emotional distress, but a poorer quality of life in their later years.

Elder abuse occurs in close family relationships

Elder abuse involves harmful behaviour by a trusted family member. An important aspect of inter-generational elder abuse is the relationship between the older person and the perpetrator, who is usually an adult son or daughter. The nature of elder abuse can take a substantial toll on an older person’s emotional well-being and make it difficult for them to take action.

Intervening for a more positive outcome

Addressing elder abuse may be complicated when important relationships are at stake. We often see an ambivalence toward acting against perpetrators. Yet many positive outcomes are achieved as a result of legal and advocacy services.

An range of interventions may be required to address a situation of elder abuse. Each case is unique. Non-legal intervention may include the need for therapeutic interventions (particularly for perpetrators), mediation services, accommodation and financial assistance. Mediation is a promising alternative to the adversarial legal system.

Common factors in cases of elder abuse

We often see a sense of frustration on behalf of the older person after years of conflict and abuse. Inter-generational elder abuse is never straightforward, and every older person subjected to it will report a different situation. Control and dominance may be one of the reasons for the abusive behaviour.

Communication difficulties linked to continuation of elder abuse

Strained communication, or a lack of open discussion, is often reported. Some people avoid communicating about the issue for fear of escalating matters. The extent to which an older person is affected, the supports they draw on and their ability to cope will all influence their experience.

How can we help you?

Our experienced Elder Law team can assist you to regain control of your or your senior family member’s affairs by taking the appropriate legal action.

When should you talk to us?

It is important to obtain appropriate legal advice at the earliest opportunity.

Specialised assistance

We might also recommend the involvement of a specialist solicitor from our Elder Law practice, a private social worker specialising in elder care, or a financial planner.

How to start?

You are welcome to call us for a confidential chat. Or simply complete our confidential online enquiry form.

Tips to Avoid Elder Abuse
  1. Do not give your PIN or debit or credit card to anyone
  2. Do not allow anyone to bank online for you
  3. Get independent legal advice before loaning money to family; moving in with family or allowing family to move in with you
  4. Talk to your lawyer alone and NOT in the company of family members
  5. Talk to Centrelink before loaning money, gifting money or moving in with family as your pension could be affected
  6. Engage in estate planning. Review your will and your Enduring Power of Attorney every 3 years
  7. Appoint more than one attorney to act jointly
  8. Do not sign anything unless you understand what you are signing
  9. Join a group, keep healthy and maintain a support network
  10. If you have concerns, talk to someone you trust – such as your GP, police or your lawyer. Financial abuse is a form of family violence.

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