Millions of people around the world are watching their parents and other loved ones grow older-and those elderly people are at risk.
It's not only dying or getting sick they have to worry about: As people get older, they become easy prey for criminals who want to separate them and future generations from their hard-earned money and assets.
In this guide to protecting yourself and recognizing when a loved one is at risk, you'll learn how to:
• take preventative steps to ensure elder abuse never starts;
• recognize when someone might be trying to take advantage of a loved one;
• navigate the complicated process of stepping in to take care of an elderly loved one; and
• promote widespread respect and dignity for the elderly.
McGowan draws on real-life experiences to show the profound implications of letting yourself or a loved one be taken for a fool.
With the continued aging of the adult population, abuse of the elderly is going to become a bigger problem with time. Don't let yourself or your family be victimized by The Ultimate Betrayal.
If someone had said to me five years ago that I'd be publishing a book on this subject, I honestly would not have believed it. As I began writing, a wonderful woman who had experienced this type of situation, mentioned the quote in chapter one. I thank her for her honesty and she put a name to it, although it sounds harsh but that's what it is, "abuse of the elderly" for their money. Unfortunately it's far more common than we think.
For those of you already forming the opinion that this won't happen to you or in your family, or to someone you know perhaps. I have to confess, I didn't really know it happened either, not to the extent it does anyhow. Yes, the statistics are alarming, plus the rate it occurs is increasing, and considering we have an ageing population who control a larger portion of the wealth in the world, chances are it will happen to a lot more elders. It is for these reasons, I sincerely implore and encourage you to become informed and be aware of the pitfalls. To stop for a moment, and take some time to consider if changes should be made and how.
Setting some boundaries earlier, rather than when it becomes too late to prevent elder financial abuse, is far easier with less heartache for the older citizens and their loved ones. This harsh form of deceit may not occur at all to an elder you're close to, you may have a beautiful supportive family and trustworthy network of people around you, and that's wonderful. Taking preventative steps is far easier than trying to deal with the loss of a loved one's dignity, the loss of their money to support the way of life they've chosen and eventually – the loss of someone's inheritance and even happiness. Sadly, the more I found out when I was compelled to look into the issue and investigate this topic, the more shocked I became at the "inhumanity of humanity", or some of them at least.
Today though some years later, I'm choosing to face reality - this unfortunately occurs and it's much more widespread than we realize. It's not spoken of because it's embarrassing, it hurts those who have been taken advantage of, and to be truthful it upsets people just hearing about it. However, I am now strongly of the view that if I can help make things better for others, so that they don't have to experience the same indignity of the "ultimate betrayal", I will at least feel as though I've done something constructive. If I can help prevent this from happening to other elder people, then at least something good will come out of a very sad and disappointing form of human behaviour that's quite prevalent in our society.
If along the way we can help to create more awareness, and possibly even improve something in the legal structure to protect elders more so, this could help not only the legal profession do their work but would be a very good outcome indeed if it assisted to minimize elder wealth abuse. It's about protecting the elders - their wellbeing, their wealth, their right to live as they choose and make their own choices, and bequeath an inheritance as they see fit. To have the right to live out their days as they wish to do so, in comfort, and be able to enjoy their life fully. Many have spent their lives working on their whole wealth to do just that, not to have someone come along and just take it. How they take it is covered in more detail in this book. To my strong dislike, as I was compelled to delve into the subject, I was told of many, many stories.
I hope this work will create more awareness, educate people, help to change things and possibly prevent this occurring to our lovely older people who should instead be valued. The content is also about offering some ideas that go somewhat towards helping people heal who have experienced this first hand and may have been adversely affected by this low form of behaviour when it occurred. For those people who carry out this form of elder abuse can be quite manipulative and ruthless. It can leave the innocent people affected or targeted, feeling quite devastated, helpless, and often fearful.
Furthermore, this book is not just about protecting your wealth. It has the potential to be used as a basic conceptual framework in order to change things, improve systems, and minimize the risks for our senior citizens as they age. As part of that, it's also about how to create your "whole wealth" - the feeling of "truly being happy", how to enjoy it and have a really good life. Importantly, there are also useful ideas that may assist if you're helping to care for elders.
It's about looking to create awareness and improve or change this for the better now! Not putting it in the "too hard basket" and certainly not hiding from it because it's "not a nice subject" or it's sometimes just too upsetting to speak of. Or for some, it's just too embarrassing or demoralizing – the fact that it even happened in your family or to an older person dear to you. There are many things people can do to improve the protection of our elders, both now and as we progress. Perhaps we could consider embracing this concept, embark on a campaign where we consider what is possible, to help us tackle this issue head on, and ultimately, improve this predicament now while we can. After all, when you think about it that will be us one day, we will all be an elder ourselves eventually.
Anne McGowan is a senior elder advocate and the founder and CEO of Protecting Seniors Wealth in Australia. She was formerly a teacher and course coordinator of adult studies in business communications and a public relations consultant for many years.