Elder financial abuse is an ongoing pandemic, and is on the rise says DCOA

The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating a growing problem for seniors in Dominica: elder financial abuse and serious measures to be taken to address this ‘pandemic within the pandemic’ says President of the Dominica Council on Ageing (DCOA), Ophelia Olivaccè-Marie.

Her call came as Dominica joined the international community in observing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) observed annually by the United Nations on June 15. The day which is observed under the theme  ‘Combating Elder Abuse’ raises awareness about the abuse and neglect of older persons and the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.

“Financial abuse is on the rise; people are stealing money from older persons,” Olivaccè-Marie told Dominica News Online (DNO).

She continued, “There are people who say they would like to assist our seniors monthly to withdraw money from their books; they get them to agree to sign papers to add their names to the account and they withdraw large sums of money on the pretext of using that money to take care of the older persons. And many times,  the older person doesn’t see one iota of care that would come as a result of that withdrawal.”

According to the DCOA president, the offenders often include those who are trusted to take care of the elderly, including family members, volunteers and those employed to assist them with their daily needs.

“I heard a story about some children who placed their father in the sun and they gave him a pen and a paper and if he didn’t sign, they would cut his finger, and would you believe they cut his finger because he refused to sign for land that is so very painful and when I hear those things, they disappoint me,” she lamented.

Mrs Olivaccè-Marie issued a call to families and other institutions to establish better practices that can safeguard our seniors from such abuse.

“Perhaps be more vigilant; perhaps ask more questions, or report their doubt to somebody who might be able to go further with it, ” she recommended.

According to Olivaccè-Marie, several local lawyers are presently working with the DCOA, oftentimes, pro-bono, (free of charge) to ensure that our senior citizens have access to justice when such matters are reported.

Outside of financial abuse, the head of the DCOA also pointed out that sexual, emotional, mental, and physical abuse to name a few, continue to remain an issue.

As such, she urged family members and caretakers to be on the lookout for tell-tale signs such as a change in behaviour of their loved one, sores on the skin, a change of appetite, or simply, if they look like they have been hurt.

“What gives me great hope is the fact that our country can rally around a little girl who is missing. So we can come together, we can make an issue of one family, one child, the issue of the nation, we should do that more,” she said. “Do that for a vulnerable child; do it also for vulnerable seniors and please don’t be jealous of the little support and aid that they are getting. We are there to take care of them so that when the boomerang  comes back  somebody will be able to take care of us when we get to their age.”

She said the elderlies are capable of building on the skills of the nation as they have done in the past and is therefore, believes that all attempts should be made to protect them.

“We are also asking the general public to recognize that older persons have gone ahead of them, and have helped to create the kind of family, the kind of society, the kind of country that these younger persons live in. So we owe a debt of gratitude, a debt of recognition to our older persons.”

“We should give them the love and recognition which they deserve so that they can know that they are thought of and loved as human beings.  It’s as basic as that because boomerang and karma have a specific meaning to people who do not take care of the vulnerable,” the DCOA president stated.

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8 Comments

  1. JanS
    June 21, 2022

    I wish I had the phone number or email address for Mrs. Olivacce-Marie’s office. I need to report somebody from Wesley who has been steal from his 97yr grandmother. For years now he taking the money she receive from the government and pocketing it. One day she went to the bank to withdraw some money from her account and was told there was no money left in the account. He cleaned out her bank account. The other day they cut her light and when her caregiver told him about it, he ignored her and left his grandmother in the dark house. I need the authorities to know of this abuse.

    ADMIN: We would urge you to report your concerns to the authorities.

    You can contact the criminal investigation department at (767) 266 5164 and the social welfare division at (767) 266 3080.

  2. Toto
    June 16, 2022

    This is really sad reading. Most of our elderly don’t have much already and those stealing from them are despicable. But maybe it is more than that. Most of our people live in dire poverty, which turns people into rapacious vultures to rob their vulnerable own in order to survive. Dominica is not a happy, carefree place today. Tension everywhere, I can feel it.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2
  3. Dr Clayton Shillingford
    June 16, 2022

    It is quite shameful that younger family members would take advantage of the elderly but dishonesty and indiscipline is now fashionable in Dominica from top to bottom

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3
  4. June 16, 2022

    What of those vulture lawyers who prey on the elderlie’s properties?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1
    • Toto
      June 18, 2022

      Albert being a lawyer, does not always make you a respectable citizen. There are basically two types of lawyers. Those who genuinely care about justice and those who seek ways to go around the laws, circumnavigate them if you will, find loopholes. All strictly legal of course. The last group more interested in fame and fortune and let the devil take the hindmost. I don’t recall any lawyer in our little country ever being struck off by our bar association and that should be a warning to you, not a recommendation.
      Be aware when some body says trust me, I’m a lawyer. Make sure first is not a snake in the grass you dealing with. Unfortunately the legal profession is not always a honourable one.

  5. Ibo France
    June 16, 2022

    No one except the ministers of government and the politically well connected, not even the elderly, escapes the bone chilling misery of life in Dominica.

    Too many of the elderly folks go neglected, hungry, and sick without any sort of well needed medical attention.

    Too many public servants work from paycheck to paycheck, hand to mouth.

    Too many young people and school leavers are unemployed. Their only occupation is loitering and smoking a spliff of marijuana on the block.

    Too many foreigners are living well while too many locals are enduring a life of hell.

    Dominica is pregnant with twenty two (22) straight years of Labour pain.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3
  6. Ibo France
    June 15, 2022

    Two of the most vulnerable and abused groups in Dominica are our children and our elderly persons.

    These two groups are under constant and relentless attacks from not only predators in the community but family members also. So many harrowing stories of physical, sexual and financial abuses.

    Dominicans, we must do better! If we continue along this road, we will do irreparable damage to both our future (children) and the foundation of this country (elderly). These people need our love, assistance and protection. Let us be generous in our efforts to keep these people’s spirits buoyant and hopeful.

    Ingratitude to our elders is worse than witchcraft. Let’s show these pioneers our true appreciation for their sterling efforts.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

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