Definitions of abuse

There are many different types of abuse:

  • physical
  • sexual
  • psychological, such as threats and harassment or denying the adult access to important relationships or their community
  • financial, such as misusing a person’s money
  • neglect, such as withholding medication or not providing regular food
  • exploitation, such as taking advantage of someone.

Many cases we see involve a friend or family member using an adult’s money for their own purposes. In more extreme cases this can result in nursing home fees being unpaid, or an adult living in squalor or an unsafe environment.

However any misuse of an adult’s money or assets, whatever the perceived or actual impact on the adult, is classed as financial abuse. This includes actions such as taking an extra $50 from the adult’s account when doing their shopping to ‘compensate’ for the time taken, ‘borrowing’ the adult’s money to cover personal bills because you’re ‘running a bit short’, and living in the adult’s house rent free because ‘it’s coming in the inheritance anyway’.

Other examples of abuse include (but aren’t limited to) adults being kept isolated from friends and family, not having their care needs met, or being influenced to hand over money or other assets.

Our case studies profile some situations we’ve investigated.

It’s also worth noting that, in some cases, an attorney acting under an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is inadvertently harming an adult simply because they don’t understand their role and responsibilities. If you are concerned about an attorney acting inappropriately, you may like to give them a copy of our Responsibilities of an Attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney factsheet.