Free seminar on mental health and the law
Financial abuse of seniors is widespread in Bermuda but everyone can take steps to help prevent it happening to them, according to the founder of a dementia charity.
Liz Stewart, of Action on Alzheimer’s and Dementia, is urging old and young to attend a free seminar next week on mental health and the law, which will cover topics such as appointing a trusted power of attorney in case of unanticipated mental incapacity and estate planning.
“We know there has been a lot of financial abuse and there continues to be a lot of financial abuse, especially, of seniors in the community,” she said.
“It’s definitely something we want to highlight. I think it would be very beneficial for anybody to go [to the seminar]. There are a lot of misconceptions.”
There have been several high-profile cases involving financial abuse of the elderly in Bermuda, including that of sisters Lorraine Smith and Audra-Ann Bean, who were convicted of swindling their grandmother out of almost $500,000 in 2012. The women’s names were the first to be placed on the Island’s Senior Abuse Register.
The seminar, featuring lawyer Keiva Maronie Durham as guest speaker, is part of a series of events the charity is hosting to mark Dementia Awareness Week.
Bermuda is estimated to have about 1,000 people with dementia, according to Ms Stewart, and once a person reaches the age of 85, they have a one in three chance of getting it.
“Your odds are pretty high as you get older,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important to prepare.”
The 6.30pm session on Tuesday (September 22) at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute will explain that a power of attorney — a substitute decision-maker — acts solely in relation to financial matters.
But it’s also important, said Ms Stewart, for people to prepare for how they want to be treated in old age, in the event they can no longer articulate that themselves.
“It’s important to have a directive regarding your healthcare,” she said. “This is something that probably everybody should be thinking about.
“Anything can happen to any of us, at any time, but particularly as you get older you really want to know you have got people who can advocate for you and represent your wishes.
“Do you want a ‘do not resuscitate’ directive?
“If you can’t look after yourself, do you want to be cared for at home or in a care home? Do you want to be in Bermuda?”
The charity’s other events, all at BUEI, to mark Dementia Awareness Week are:
•A free public presentation – the A to Z of Dementia, featuring an occupational therapist and a specialist in engagement activities for those with dementia — at 6.30pm on Monday, September 21. No ticket needed.
•A screening of the documentary The Genius of Marian — about a family dealing with a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s — at 6.30pm on Thursday, September 24. Tickets $10.
•A screening of the documentary I’ll Be Me — about singer Glenn Campbell’s “Goodbye Tour” after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis — at 7pm on Saturday, September 26. Tickets $15.