When Aunt Gertrude appoints her niece Milly to be her agent on her Power of Attorney document, there are several presumptions at work. One of those presumptions is that Milly is willing to do what she needs to do in order to help her Aunt Gertrude. There many types of abuse of the elderly and one of the harder ones to spot is passivity.

What if Milly is indifferent to Aunt Gertrude’s situation? That’s not to say she is mean or vengeful, she is simply indifferent. An uncaring person is not necessarily a mean-spirited person. Sometimes, as a result of their upbringing, they are unaware of the suffering or problems of others. Indifference does however require a measure of selfishness.

Suppose Aunt Gertrude is still mobile, but no longer drives. She needs a ride to her doctor appointments and grocery shopping. Milly dutifully takes Aunt Gertrude to the grocery store twice a month and to her doctor’s appointments when needed. Gertrude would love to go to Bingo on Friday nights (like she used to when her niece Milly was young and she would take her along) and has dropped strong hints to Milly with no success.

Is Milly doing what she needs to do? Yes. Is Milly acting with compassion? Probably not. Is this abuse? No. But you can see from this brief example how unmet expectations (realistic or not) can cause difficulties between a principal (Aunt Gertrude) and agent (niece Milly). And if Milly does become more aggressive, she could easily begin to take actions which do cross the line of abuse.

If you know an Aunt Gertrude and Niece Milly, watch their behaviors and their actions. Talk to Aunt Gertrude, alone, to be sure she is okay. Be vigilant. Be aware. Help those senior citizens around you steer clear!  Please contact Mateya Law Firm to assist you with your Power of Attorney needs.