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Elder abuse: The hidden crime

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What can people do to protect themselves?

There are several things that older adults can do to protect themselves from abuse. Here are some examples.

Money

  • control and monitor their bank accounts
  • understand all documents before signing them, never sign under pressure, and get legal advice if necessary
  • be careful who they give their banking and financial information to, including credit and debit card numbers and passwords
  • replace any credit or debit cards that an abuser might be able to use
  • do not open joint bank accounts unless they want the other person to also have ownership of the money in the account
  • set up automatic payments and deposits, for example, for bills and pension cheques

Safety

  • think carefully before having someone move in or before moving in with someone
  • change the locks if someone who is or was abusive has a key to their place
  • have their own phone or another way to communicate, like email, and open their own mail

Planning ahead

  • plan for the future while they are still mentally capable, including preparing a will and deciding about Powers of Attorney
  • be careful when choosing someone to give a Power of Attorney to, make sure they trust them, and know that they will respect their wishes
  • maintain relationships with family, friends, and support networks, including groups in the community
  • make a plan for care they might need in the future, and do not rely only on family members to be their caregivers