New bid to stamp out financial abuse of the elderly
A campaign is being launched in a bid to clamp down on 'financial elder abuse'.
This is where older people have their savings taken, or are pressurised for money.
Age Action has launched a video and is issuing a leaflet to make young and older people aware of incidences of senior citizens being conned out of their money.
The practice can be as blunt as demanding money from older people, keeping back some of their pension money, or putting them under pressure to sign off on loans, experts said.
Often family members are the one dishing out the financial abuse.
Older people are also vulnerable to attempts to get them to alter their wills.
It is thought that hundreds of older people face demands for money every year.
But an Age Action survey found half of elderly people were unaware of the problem.
The charity's new initiative to raise awareness about financial elder abuse is being funded by Ulster Bank.
There were more than 2,500 cases of elder abuse referred to the HSE in 2014, and one-in-five were financial abuse.
Head of advocacy at Age Action Justin Moran said: "Every year, hundreds of older people face demands for money, have their pensions withheld, or their possessions taken.
"In the overwhelming majority of cases of elder abuse, the perpetrators are immediate family members."
Mr Moran added: "It is those who are abusing older people, taking their money and their savings, who are responsible for elder abuse."
He said the best way for older people to protect themselves is to be informed, to ensure their friends and family know what warnings signs to watch out for, and to act when they suspect elder abuse.
Ulster Bank's Pauline McKiernan warned that elderly and vulnerable people are at particular risk of being targets for fraud and financial abuse.