What is “elder abuse”? “Physical” is, unfortunately, prevalent but, less easy to detect, is “psychological” and “financial” abuse. Most of us are wise to the con man who persuades an elderly person a job needs doing and then vastly overcharges them; some are not. Many tactics to part a pensioner and their money are more subtle and can involve psychological abuse.

The abuse which happened in our family had far reaching effects. It started as it so often does – over money and a seemingly generous act. On his death bed my father gave me £50,000, knowing I would always be there for my stepmother and I was – for ten years. Thinking he was doing the right and easy thing, my father put everything into his wife’s name so there was no need for probate.
He thought he had covered everything, even his own funeral.

So everything was fine. I put the money aside and paid any extras my stepmother needed. We never used it for our personal gain. Only later did I find out she was on social security benefit. However, raising that question, my stepmother, Eileen, stated she was quite happy with the way things were and left it. Just after my father died Eileen made her Will. She went to her own solicitors being given all the legal advice needed. She made pecuniary bequests to her nephew, niece, three cousins and gifted jewellery and specific items to friends. The remainder was to be divided between my brother and myself. Two thirds to me – taking into account I had one child – and one third to my brother.

Ten years later my stepmother decided to cut out a couple of friends because she never saw them. She went back to the same solicitors. Everything else remained the same. All was carried out perfectly legally. However, a very short time afterwards Eileen and I had a falling out over the most silly thing. She then went to my brother and told him I had stolen £50,000. Now my brother could be deemed to be a sensible man, already a multi millionaire with no children and disliking Eileen intensely, he surprisingly took her side.

What happened over the next few years was unbelievable. My brother gained Eileen’s Power of Attorney and cunningly got her to transfer her beautiful penthouse apartment overlooking the Isle of Wight into his name “in consideration of a debt of £3,422” – a debt which, in fact, I had paid. The apartment was valued at £600K at the time and Eileen was still on income support. But because the transfer of the apartment was not registered until 2007, a few months before Eileen died, a 2004 House of Lords precedent then rendered this “gift” illegal. I pointed this out to the Police, who took no action. Why did my brother delay the transfer of the apartment? Was it to avoid inheritance tax?

Many other aspects in this story were illegal. Eileen never used her own solicitors again, she used my brother’s who she had never met. Five police forces became involved including Interpol. Social Services deemed it was perfectly legal to give your home away and then claim income support. Then there were the solicitors, barristers, judges and Ombudsmen. My brother then turned his attention to my mother.

It is safe to say I do not give up easily and I decided to write a book. My Brother My Enemy The Final Chapter reached No. 2 in the Amazon best selling list. I wanted to publicise how easy it is for unscupulous people to blackmail and frighten the elderly. I wanted to point out who is there to help and who is not. Certainly the Police and Social Services turned a blind eye. Perhaps it was because my brother worked for the Police and was awarded an MBE for his “services to the Police”?

I discovered Hourglass only recently. They are the only UK-wide charity focused on the abuse and neglect of older people. They staff a free to call 24/7 helpline and online instant messenger tool.

The charity employs caseworkers providing bespoke care plans for the victim survivors and work with agencies involved in the issues. They aim to seek a ‘resolution’ whatever that might mean to the individual. This might be recovery of assets, negotiation, prosecution or liaison with key family members. That said, the local safeguarding teams are the main liaison and port of call. They might speak to the agencies involved, the police, social care/services, safeguarding teams, other charities and also family members/carers. They would then shape a care plan tailored for the individual. How I wish these Hourglass services existed in 2000.

I am inspired by Alan Bates who fought for victims of the Post Office scandal, never giving up.

My Brother My Enemy The Final Chapter is available from amazon.com in digital format or My Brother My Enemy is available in paperback from www.ablelimitededitions.co.uk. I have turned my autobiography into a novel based on fact, The Inheritance Thief, also available on amazon.com. I also have the screenplay ready to go for any producer!

I now live in New Zealand but continue to campaign for this cause. I was a medallist in the Kiwi Bank Local Heroes Awards and am appreciative of the kind words and letters I have received. I attach one of the latest emails received.

“After reading your book I am in awe of your humility, and endurance!  You are the true marathon runner. Your marathon is of epic proportions, the marathon of life, the hardest and more difficult marathon to live.  You are such a fabulous person Adrienne a real role model, thank you for being you and for your wonderful, funny, and witty resilience for life.  It is not the things we do that people remember about us it is the things we do not do even though it is justified! Blessings”

Adrienne Nairn