It has only taken seniors advocate, Anne McGowan, two years to put together a collection of valuable resources designed to help fight a growing problem – Financial Elder Abuse.
Her dedication to assisting vulnerable retirees fight back was evident when she addressed the Rotary Club of Singleton last Thursday evening. Driving home the sad fact the majority of perpetrators are members of the victims own family – their own sons, or daughters.
Putting pressure on them to sign over assets, change their wills or even sell the family home. She calls this “inheritance impatience.”
They usually get away with it because the elderly victim is too ashamed and embarrassed to report them to the police. And, with seniors controlling about 70 per cent of the wealth and an ageing population, this is set to become a huge problem.
Anne is the founder, and CEO of Protecting Seniors Wealth, and was first motivated to take action after hearing first-hand stories while working in banking and customer service – and then in Public Relations. She says it is “the ultimate betrayal” and with good reason.
“Financial abuse of the elderly is much more widespread than we are aware of and a recent media interview indicated a rise of 20 per cent. When this happens they are than just upset, the feel deeply hurt, humiliated and distressed,” Ms McGowan explains.
“It occurs in different ways: manipulation, passive aggressive behavior, verbal or even physical abuse. Usually it is people they know who commit this form of crime and make no mistake, these people do not care about the wellbeing of the elderly. They are only interested in getting the assets or money.”
She says a victim having no money left for food or personal items, being fearful or withdrawn, appearing upset or lacking confidence are all signs of this form of abuse. Anne is the author of a practical guide focused on “what to do” to prevent the abuse of the elderly for their money or wealth, has created a website or “communication hub”, and runs workshops dealing with this important issue.
Her objective is to provide seniors and those who help them, with the necessary tools and motivation to take action to prevent of financial abuse. She says awareness is key and if people have some knowledge on the subject, including the warning signs they could be in a better to prevent it happening.