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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

When elder abuse happens in plain sight, families still feel powerless to stop it

I recently read an article about the realities of elder financial abuse that I highly recommend to readers with aging parents. It's from Australia, but the issues are the same here in Canada. The article, which you can read by clicking here, talks about a family who discovered that their Mom was being financially abused by a grandson but they had no way to stop it because the Mom willingly gave the grandson money.

This raises the issue of whether it's abuse if the person agrees to give money. It's their money, right? Can't they do what they want with it? But if you look a little deeper, you find out facts that change the picture. For instance, in the article mentioned here, the Mom gave the grandson so much money that she had nothing left to pay her fees at the care home where she lived, and he ate through her entire life savings, about $300,000 in total, leaving her with absolutely nothing.

I do take issue with one part of the article, however. The Mom now has an Enduring Power of Attorney in effect. The daughter who has the POA could shelter the rest of the money by ensuring that the Mom did not have access to it. While that may seem cold to the Mom, at least it would disrupt the pattern of financial abuse and perhaps the grandson would leave Mom alone. The daughter with the POA has said in the article, and I agree, that there is no point trying to recover money that has already been taken by the grandson because that has already been spent. But I think she could exercise her power under the POA to stop him from coming back.

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