Having dementia puts a person at greater risk of being exploited financially. Christina Neal explains the importance of keeping an eye on a person’s finances. 

It’s a sad fact that a person with dementia is at greater risk of being exploited by those who are supposed to be caring for them. Money can bring out the worst in people. Friends or even members of the person’s own family can exploit them, as it may be difficult or impossible for them to manage their own affairs. According to a Financial Abuse Review published by Age UK in November 2015, those with dementia or reduced cognitive function are most at risk. The review also revealed that 50 per cent of financial abuse in the UK is by ‘adult children’. Approximately 130,000 people aged 65 and over have suffered financial abuse since turning 65, though this is considered a conservative estimate.

Another review conducted for Age UK in 2008 showed that 70 per cent of financial abuse is by a family member. A report by King’s College London and the National Centre for Social Research published in 2007 revealed that 57,000 people aged 66 and over in the UK had suffered financial abuse by a relative, friend or care worker.

Don’t think it won’t happen in your family. Trust your instincts. If you suspect wrongdoing, here’s what you can do:

  • Speak to the person’s bank if you suspect theft from their account
  • Cancel all debit cards immediately
  • Obtain third party access on the person’s account so that you can monitor activity
  • If theft has occurred, report the matter to the police and obtain a crime reference number for the bank, which they may require in order to investigate the matter
  • Seek advice urgently. Call the charity, Action on Elder Abuse, for advice on 080 8808 8141, or alternatively, speak to Age UK’s helpline on 0800 169 2081.

If you are concerned about someone abusing a Lasting Power of Attorney, it can be revoked if the person with dementia still has capacity. Contact the Office of the Public Guardian on 0300 456 0300 or by email at opg.safeguardingunit@publicguardian.gsi.gov.uk or speak to a solicitor for further advice.