Elder Abuse

It’s a sad fact that family members, “carers” and others take advantage of elderly people in our society today, sometimes targeting the assets of lonely or vulnerable senior citizens. Police and lawyers are limited in their ability to respond so the children of victims are turning to private investigators to help.

Read below for more.

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Elder Abuse

  • If a “carer” or family member’s intentions towards an elderly person appear to be improper, an investigator can learn more about the subject through a background check or surveillance.

  • When it comes to disputed wills and suspected forgeries, forensic analysis of handwriting and signatures can reveal whether a document is genuine or not.

  • If a questionable family provision claim has been made, an investigator may be able to show the court that a claimant is being dishonest.

  • If an older person’s assets are being improperly accessed or his or her identity used fraudulently, an investigator may be able to offer guidance.

The most common elder abuse issue we deal with is when somebody takes advantage of our client’s mother or father. The culprit is often a family member, a “carer” or a new partner who has recently moved in with the victim who may be widowed, lonely or suffering from a medical issue which leaves him or her vulnerable to exploitation. The abuser may take advantage of the elderly person by improperly accessing financial accounts/assets, forging a will (or hiding an existing will), isolating the parent from other family members or convincing the victim to grant the culprit power of attorney. Believe it or not, some carers actually make a career out of building trust with older people who have assets and inveigling their way into the affairs of that person.

If you want to learn more about a person who has become involved with your parent, information can often be uncovered through a background check, which could reveal whether the subject has a history of similar activity or engages in criminal behaviour generally. When it comes to disputed wills, forensic analysis of handwriting and signatures can reveal whether a document has been forged. Furthermore, an investigator can prove or disprove claims or allegations being made by a party when there is a dispute over an estate in a family provision claim for example. If an elderly person has gone missing for one reason or another, a private eye can endeavour to locate him or her through searches. If you are suspicious of a carer, family member, or any person for that matter, an investigator can place him or her under surveillance to obtain evidence of any wrongdoing. If assets are being improperly accessed, there may be avenues of inquiry available to an investigator.

While there isn’t currently an established measurement of the prevalence of elder abuse across Australia, studies from Canada and the United Kingdom have shown that between 2% and 8% of elderly people (aged 65+) experience at least one form of abuse in any given year. Simultaneously, we’re seeing a large transfer of wealth occurring in Australia at the moment because the baby boomer generation is quite well-off. This means that lots of disputes over assets like property are occurring and are only set to become more prevalent as the years go on.


Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is the most common form of exploitation that elderly people face in Australia. This involves the mismanagement or illegal use of an older individual’s money or assets, and abusers typically go about this using threats, coercion, or by taking advantage of debilitated people who depend on others to manage their finances.

A central characteristic of such abuse is that it is perpetrated by somebody in a position of trust – surprisingly, this is quite often the child of the elderly victim. This is because family members have greater ease of access to the sensitive financial information of victims. Evidently, figures compiled by the National Ageing Research Institute of Seniors Rights Victoria show that 92.3% of abuse is perpetrated by persons related to the older person or those in a de facto relationship with the victim, while 66.8% of abuse is perpetrated by a child of the older person. Issues consistently arise surrounding inheritance as vulnerable people are forced to rewrite their wills or are pressured into giving out an inheritance early. In some cases, financial abuse is actually knowingly tolerated and unreported by the elderly victim because he or she still feels protective towards the adult child who is responsible for the exploitation.

There are a number of signs that can indicate when elderly financial abuse is occurring, and a number of ways that a private investigator can step in and help. The best way of preventing elder abuse is for the children of elderly parents to keep in contact with the parent and to ensure he or she is comfortable and not lonely. If a parent has any concerns or exhibits a change in behaviour, it’s a good idea to look into the situation in further detail so you can feel comfortable your parent is not subject to malicious activity.


Other Forms Of Elder Abuse

Besides the mismanagement of finances, elder abuse can also take the form of neglect or physical, sexual, social, and psychological abuse (as outlined by the Australian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 1999) at the hands of trusted individuals who have a duty of care that they are supposed to uphold. Sometimes, both the victim and the perpetrator do not even recognise that abuse is occurring. Some common examples of elder abuse include:

  • Intimidation, humiliation or harassment.
  • Undue threat of eviction or being placed in a nursing home/aged care facility.
  • Socially isolating an individual (stopping the victim from seeing family/friends).
  • Indecent or sexually manipulative behaviour
  • Denying access to services
  • Neglecting a person’s physical, medical or emotional needs
  • Denying a person’s right to make his or her own decisions.

Awareness and vigilance are necessary to identify and combat the issue of elder abuse. Some tell-tale signs that somebody you know could be a victim of the aforementioned forms of abuse are:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Confusion, depression or heightened anxiety in the elderly person
  • Disappearance of personal belongings
  • Malnutrition or weight loss
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Social isolation


How Lyonswood Can Help With Your Elder Abuse Case

Because it is such a broad category of crime, elder abuse can occur in many forms and the implications of each case can vary wildly. Fortunately, Lyonswood Investigators are in a position to assist in an equally broad capacity. Contact us now to receive an obligation-free quote regarding your elder abuse matter.