Greater protection for the elderly


The Government has commissioned an in depth review for protection of the elderly.

Many elderly people are vulnerable to financial or even physical abuse from family members who care for them.

The Department of Health, alongside the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, will issue a consultation paper to look again at guidance on adult protection.

According to Help The Aged, as many as half a million pensioners are victims of violence or intimidation each year. Two-thirds of abuse is committed in the home by someone in a position of trust. In recent years there have been numerous high-profile cases of extreme abuse of elderly and vulnerable people. Margaret Panting, 78, from Sheffield, died in 2001 after suffering 49 injuries, including razor blade cuts and cigarette burns, while she was living with relatives. She had moved from sheltered accommodation and 5 weeks later she was dead. No one was charged.

Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) says financial exploitation in particular is a growing problem. It says that in the last 2 years it has dealt with almost 900 cases of money or assets - including 178 houses - being stolen from older people by members of their own family. The thefts amounted to a total of £41.5million.

Among the questions the consultation will ask is whether there should be a new offence created of ill-treating a vulnerable adult.

The risk of such abuse can to a great extent be avoided by the elderly person appointing attorneys who they know and trust to make decisions for them if they become mentally incapacitated. This is achieved with a Lasting Power of Attorney document.

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