Sunday 21 December 2014

Elderly deserve better, from State and society

Published 22/01/2013 | 05:00

Attacks on old people in their homes have caused outrage. But the elderly also suffer from hidden crimes, which can bring about as much loss and significant trauma.

These crimes are not new. They are as old as civilisation. For centuries, they have featured in books – centring, for example, on forged wills or documents signed under duress. Now, far more devices exist for separating the elderly from their money.

Perpetrators – often close relations – gain from the modern proliferation of financial instruments which can be incomprehensible. But they can be as simple as regular theft of cash sums, sometimes unseen and unsuspected. As with other crimes, the guilty seldom have difficulty with conscience. They persuade themselves that they have "earned" the money or that the elderly have no need of it.

Large sums can be involved. Regulations make it mandatory for separate solicitors to act for both parties in transactions involving gifts of property. An example which could be followed and improved.

Government could easily take the interests of the elderly into account in legislation. And they should remember, the silent victims number many thousands.

Irish Independent

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