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Substitute Decision Making and Older People

NCJ Number
Deborah Setterlund; Cheryl Tilse; Jill Wilson
Adam Graycar
Date Published
6 pages
Research conducted in Australia is reported that assesses older people's knowledge of the substitute decision-making process (power of attorney) in financial planning and experiences of financial abuse.
The research captures older people's experiences, knowledge, and understanding of the law and significant factors that influence the power to make informed choices and their vulnerability to financial abuse. The research indicates that some elderly persons have limited knowledge of the substitute decision-making provisions of Australian law and that women's key concerns are linked to the complexity and instability of family relationships and the problem of making decisions based on one set of circumstances and implementing different decisions under another set of circumstances. For some older people, current circumstances such as health problems and the stress of caring limit the emotional energy available to consider future planning. The authors conclude that several factors combine in complex ways to influence the power to make informed choices and vulnerability to financial abuse. They indicate that the ability to make informed decisions is affected by lack of understanding, insufficient financial assets, and family trust. Future directions in ensuring older people make wise decisions to avoid financial abuse are discussed. 13 references