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Did you know there are laws in place to prevent elder abuse?

There are laws in place to prevent elder abuse. In Australia our population is growing, we’re living longer and our aging population is increasing.  Something else that’s also increasing is elder abuse.

What is elder abuse?  Elder abuse can be explained as any action or failure to act, that causes emotional, financial, physical harm to an older person.

Cam Schroder, Principal of Cam Schroder Lawyers, said it was great to see The Law Council of Australia adopting an in-principal position supporting the development of international conventions for the rights of older people.

“It’s terrible to have to acknowledge it but older people in society are susceptible to emotional and financial abuse.

“There are laws in place to prevent elder abuse. Governments in all states have laws designed to protect our older generation.  Which is great, but one of the problems that exists, is that these laws are different in every state,” Cam Schroder said.

Queensland’s guardianship laws are under constant review.  In 2020 major changes took place mandating that a persons’ paid carers or carer, (who has held the role in the last three years), cannot also fill a role as their power of attorney.   Why?

When you are appointed as someone’s power of attorney it’s a position of great trust.  You could argue that a persons’ carer often has access to information and influence over our older generation that even a client’s close family might not have. Even with these changes to Queensland law, elder abuse still happens.

To help address these problems, legal powers were set in place to improve older people’s access to the right services to address financial abuse.

Cam Schroder says The Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) 2017 report on Elder Abuse highlights these issues and suggests aligning the enduring powers of attorney laws across Australia be considered.

“Implementing a national Australian register of Enduring Powers of Attorney was another sensible recommendation mentioned by the ALRC, we need to constantly be looking at how we protect our older generation.”

“People might not know that there is protection available for individuals who disclose suspected elder abuse.  If you have reasonable grounds to believe an older person is experiencing abuse there are reforms in place to safeguard a whistle-blower,” Cam Schroder said.

Our older population experience greater rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s and it’s up to us as a community to protect them.

A 2020 National Ageing Research Report gave some indicators look out for in candidates of elder abuse.

 

3 Contributing factors for elder abuse

  1. Those in family conflict
  2. Those experiencing poor physical health, cognitive impairment, or lack of support
  3. Those isolated, anxious or short of money

To prevent elder abuse it’s essential that you choose your Power of Attorney carefully.  Next week we’ll look at what to look for when you’re choosing your power of attorney.

To organise your power of attorney document, call Cam Schroder Lawyers on 07 4925 0229 to book your confidential appointment today.

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