Elder Abuse is most commonly perpetrated by the adult children of an older person, and older people with a cognitive impairment are particularly at risk. Armed with an Enduring Power of Attorney, an unscrupulous person could access an older person’s bank accounts, make decisions to spend an older person’s money for their own benefit, or claim a stake in property or assets in return for care that may or may not be provided.
Macquarie Law School Senior Lecturer and PhD candidate Ms Lise Barry has been researching how lawyers accept instructions from older people with a cognitive impairment. Lawyers play an important role in upholding the rights of older people to make their own decisions, but it is important that lawyers recognise when an older person may be being coerced into a decision improperly.
Lise recently made a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission Inquiry into Elder Abuse as part of her role as a Convenor of the Australian Network on Law and Ageing. Lise hopes to shine a light on how the law might better address Elder Abuse.
Lise also raised concerns recently in a submission to a New South Wales Upper House Inquiry into Elder Abuse and called for better training for the legal profession in this regard. Lise was invited to appear in person to give evidence to the Inquiry, and the Committee drew on findings from her research in their final report into Elder Abuse in New South Wales.