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Helping hand for vulnerable elders

Helping hand for vulnerable elders

Elderly women are particularly vulnerable to financial exploitation and elder abuse, according to an expert in elder law from the University of Western Sydney."Both older men and older women can…

Elderly women are particularly vulnerable to financial exploitation and elder abuse, according to an expert in elder law from the University of Western Sydney.

"Both older men and older women can experience financial abuse. However, women tend to experience financial abuse more often than men, as some women may be financially inexperienced, particularly if they have not worked outside the home or have not had much experience managing money," said Sue Field, UWS academic and NSW Trustee and Guardian Fellow in Elder Law.

Field has collaborated with the Older Women's Network to launch a series of brochures designed to protect the financial security of older women.

Titled How Could They?, the series of brochures tackles issues such as financial abuse, negotiating new relationships, going guarantor, gifts and loans, and buying a granny flat.

Field initially had the idea to educate elderly women about these key issues after repeatedly hearing cases of elderly abuse.

"Older women play a critical role in supporting their families and communities. In an environment of increasing social and financial pressure, older women must also ensure that they do not jeopardise their own security when asked to help those they love," said Field.

According to Field, some of the worst cases of financial elder abuse are perpetrated by close friends or relatives, and abuse can begin with seemingly small transgressions which often culminate in the inadvertent surrendering of power, authority and financial security.

"Unfortunately, unless we recognise this potential and initiate steps to protect ourselves early, communication can break down, with the situation and the relationship deteriorating," she said.

"The questions, strategies and resources contained in each brochure have been designed to empower older women with the relevant tools to resolve problems and strengthen their position without jeopardising their personal relationships. We have ensured that each publication is written in plain English, minus the legalese."

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