As the elderly population in England and Wales continues to rise, reports of elderly people falling victim to predatory behaviour are unfortunately becoming more and more common, whether the abuse is by family, those they have known for years, or complete strangers.
Protecting elderly family members from predatory behaviour can be challenging and complex, however, steps can be taken to minimise the risks such as:
- Educating yourself: make sure to keep yourself aware of common scams and fraudulent schemes that target elderly individuals, and make a note of the warning signs to look out for.
- Staying involved in the individual’s life: more often than not, isolation can make elderly individuals vulnerable to predatory behaviour. Make an active effort to stay connected with family members and remain a constant in their life, whether this be by visiting them on a regular basis or helping them with their medical appointments and financial affairs.
- Facing difficult conversations: take time to speak to your loved one to relay your concerns and remind them to be cautious about giving out their personal information. This should be dealt with in a calm and considerate manner, as an ‘all guns blazing’ approach will likely result in the other person feeling frightened or defensive, and may further isolate the individual.
- Reporting concerns as they arise: if you suspect, or have reason to suspect, your family member may be a victim of predatory behaviour, take steps to swiftly report your concerns to social services or local authorities or the police.
- Seeking professional advice: consult with the individual’s solicitor, or seek advice from a solicitor who specialises in elderly and vulnerable client law. In particular, consider whether the individual has a will and Lasting Powers of Attorney in place to help best protect their assets and financial wellbeing.
The importance of protecting loved ones from elder abuse cannot be overstated, and for those unsure of how best to protect their elderly loved one’s wellbeing and finances, the advice of specialist solicitors should be sought without delay.
"...there are things that can be put in place if they’re not already. An obvious one would be to make sure she has made a will and appointed a lasting power of attorney."The Guardian