How can you protect yourself
The majority of older people live healthy and active lives within their communities. There are local and community based groups and associations to support and encourage older people to fully participate in society. However, at some time, an older person may experience mistreatment, neglect or abuse.
Steps can be taken to minimise the risks.
- Where possible, stay active within your community and keep in regular contact with family and friends.
- Maintain your independence. Familiarise yourself with the support services available and how to access them.
- Look after your health. Take regular exercise, eat a balanced diet and visit your doctor for regular check ups.
- If you are receiving care, you have a right to be involved in all decisions relating to your care, regardless of where you are living.
- Make provisions for future circumstances, e.g. financial planning, and care and treatment options. Make your wishes known to family members, your GP or close friends. Do not assume your family members know, or understand, your wishes. Making your wishes known will assist family members and help to ensure your wishes are carried out in the event of you not having the capacity to communicate yourself. It will also eliminate the burden from your family at having to guess your wishes and preferences.
- Write down your wishes and keep them updated.
- Use your assets to provide for your own needs. Seek independent legal and financial advice for any transactions that you might be considering.
- And remember, if you are unhappy with any behaviour you are experiencing, tell someone.
Financial abuse is one of the most commonly reported forms of abuse in Ireland. Actions can be taken to protect against financial abuse.
- Keep track of your money, including your cash and loose change.
- Lock all valuable documents in a secure place.
- Do not leave items of value where they can be easily removed.
- Shred any discarded bills, receipts or statements.
- Be careful who you share personal information with and never provide personal details over the phone.
- Do not respond to unsolicited emails looking for bank details or other personal information.
- Consult with a solicitor or your bank manager about your future plans. Seek independent advice where possible.
- When seeking legal or financial advice, do so independently or only in the company of someone you trust.
- Build a relationship with your bank manager as he or she can monitor any suspicious activity on your account.
- Be sure that you understand all documents you sign and the implications involved.
- Be sure that you are included in all decisions about your finances.
- Ask questions and take your time to consider your options before committing to a financial decision.
- Only provide access to your financial affairs to someone that you trust and, even then, only if you need to.
- Check all bank and credit card statements for any unauthorised activity.
- Keep receipts from cash machine withdrawals, credit card and debit card transactions, and check these against your bank statement.
- Check credentials and references before hiring anyone for work.
- Never leave strangers, including workers with official identity, unsupervised in your home. Consider having a friend to stay with you for the duration of the work.
- Always use a traceable method of payment for any work carried out. Avoid paying in cash, but if you need to, always ask for a printed receipt with the name and contact details of the person who provided the service.
Remember, nobody has the authority to prevent the use of your assets for your own maintenance and benefit. To prevent the use of your assets for this purpose may be considered abuse. You should use your assets for your own needs in priority to any perceived needs of other people, e.g., family, friends or neighbours.
You have the right not to be threatened or intimidated. If you think someone close to you is trying to take control of your finances, tell someone.