More seniors face financial abuse at the hands of their own family members under lockdown, according to reports from the Australian Bankers Association.
Wagga Family Support Service financial counsellor Phoebe MacGregor is warning elderly people to be watchful for the early signs of financial abuse, which can start off small but quickly escalate into something more serious.
"It might start unintentionally; someone might have reduced capacity and a close friend or family member could take control of some of their finances, and that might end up leading into financial abuse," Ms MacGregor said.
"With financial abuse it's generally someone the person trusts, usually a family member or a close friend, so we ask for people to reach out, let us know, and seek professional help if they do notice it occurring."
Ms MacGregor said financial abuse often started unintentionally with family members "borrowing" money from an account, and then never getting around to paying it back.
In some more serious instances she has seen seniors having their houses sold from under them, and then being sent to live in an aged care home.
She said the added financial pressure of lockdown was another risk factor, and that this posed a challenge to seniors as well as young workers.
"The demographics of the clients we're seeing has significantly changed because of the coronavirus and the large amount of job losses," Ms MacGregor said.
"I think we're going to have a huge spike in people using our services when JobKeeper finishes... so we're encouraging people to reach out now for budgets and statements of financial positions so we can assist with the fallout."
In other news:
Lockdown has been especially tough on vulnerable seniors, according to Australian Aged Pensions Group NSW president John Hill.
Mr Hill said his weekly grocery bill had become about $30 more expensive, even though he bought the same groceries he bought every week.
"Suddenly things weren't available, and then two weeks later they were available again but they had increased in price by about 25 per cent," Mr Hill said.
"Particularly for people who live from pension to pension, to suddenly have that increase is very hard."