“I got so run down physically & emotionally” – Susan who experienced financial abuse and participated in one of the Mental Health Foundation later life peer groups, part of our Standing Together project.
Mental health and financial insecurity
In my role as Programmes Manager for Empowerment & Later Life I have come across a range of scams and types of financial abuse which often go unreported.
Research tells us that nearly 5 million people aged 65+ believe they have been targeted by scammers.
Susan’s story provides us with a deeper insight into the intertwined relationship between mental health and financial insecurity – in particular, when your mental health and wellbeing are poor, you are at a greater risk of experiencing financial abuse:
“I got so run down physically & emotionally after my parents died. When my finances were insecure, I would wake up with my stomach churning and go to bed equally anxious.
I experienced a lot of stress until the court case was over. No avenue was left unturned to prevent him making a claim on the house. This man had initially helped me with the garden then with the house. When I was very low and unwell, he got me to sign over some of the value of my house.
The court case had to establish if I had been in a fit frame of mind at that time which was in itself very anxiety making. They checked my physical health, my mental state and my verbal reasoning. This was very strange for me, a former teacher - it was like taking an adult 11+.
Reliving this horrendous period of my life was a nightmare. Not knowing what the decision would be. There was the long-term gain of getting my house back or facing the possibility of losing a large amount of money.
This financial insecurity was a huge mountain for me to climb. I couldn’t find my own way out. I was totally dependent on solicitors and the judge, who fortunately ruled in my favour.”
Susan’s story highlights the way in which people in later life may be targeted and exploited for financial gain as a consequence of poor mental health.
Improving mental health is one of the most significant public health challenges we face. People in later life need to be able to access support after bereavement. Initiatives such as the peer groups the later life team at the Mental Health Foundation facilitates through the Standing Together project, address loneliness and social isolation.
More robust social networks improve poor mental health and can make people less vulnerable to scams and fraud.
Jolie Goodman is a Programmes Manager for Empowerment & Later Life at the Mental Health Foundation.
Have you been affected by any of these issues?
If you have been affected by any of the issues described in this blog, or simply need someone to reach out to, you can call Independent Age’s freephone Helpline for information and advice on 0800 319 6789.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Independent Age.