There’s a very old West Indian lady in our church – she’s at least 90, but she’s not sure – she may have been born at a time when birth certificates were not necessarily issued automatically. She’s had a hard life, being sent away from home as a ‘slave child’ to care for other people’s children. She got married eventually but never had any children of her own, and then was widowed. She now lives locally and has played a key part in our church in the past, as someone who made others feel very welcome.

She’s coped with herself really well until a couple of years ago, when she started to get confused and was found wandering in the street in the middle of the night, not knowing where she was or what she was doing. At the same time, a woman suddenly materialised, spending all hours with Sarah and behaving in a very proprietorial way.

We were worried. We looked into it: this woman was no relative, but had been introduced to Sarah at some point recently. After a lot of suspicion, it became clear that she was stealing money from her, and had clearly moved in on her with an eye to her estate – not that there’s a great deal of it, but Sarah does own her little house.

Things went from bad to worse until one day her house flooded. We were at last able to get social services involved, and they whisked her off to a nursing home while her house was sorted out. We could breathe easy for a while – she was being looked after and fed properly.

As a result she was more compos mentis, so her social worker decided to return her to her own home, with more support from carers. We wrung our hands and pleaded her cause, to get her into residential accommodation: but social services need to conserve their money, and it was much cheaper to have her at home.

Then somebody else moved in on her, claiming to be a niece who lived in the next town. Oh yes? we thought. Where were you when Sarah really needed somebody to look after her? This woman has proved to be most unpleasant, spreading lies and slander around the place and insisting that she has the say over what happens to Sarah now.

Then Sarah fell over, and had to go to hospital, and was not judged fit to go back to her own home: so at last she was able to go into a very nice local home which has been recently built. This means she’s able to stay in familiar surroundings and continue to see people she knows.

Except. The ‘niece,’ it appears, plus another ‘relative’ who has appeared out of nowhere, are now making massive nuisances of themselves at the home. They are trying to order the manager about, commanding that he does not let Sarah go out unless he has their express permission.


They are both trying to get power of attorney.

So their true motivation is now out in the open.

We are so relieved that she’s in safe hands, with professional case conferences in which her needs are paramount. The machinations of these women will eventually come to nothing.

And serve them right.

In situations like Sarah’s, the church can and should be her ‘family’.




  1. I wrote a private message to you,Gill,But it says it can’t semd it to you.Are your messages from “Friends only”?
    This is a problem for people who subscribe to your blog by email


    1. It’s a huge relief – we’ve been very worried about her. This is where the social services really come into their own and we ought not to believe only the negative stories about them, after all.


  2. How disgusting these people are. Some will sell their very souls for money!!!! It’s utterly loathsome!

    I had a similar problem, an aging lady lived across the road from me for years and people tried to prey on her, fortunately hubs and I batted them away…a couple of dogs do wonders in these situations. The lady died last year but none of the sharks after her got a penny, it all went to her distant relatives. My sister had the exact same thing were she had to battle the fraudsters preying on an elderly friend. It is very stressful. I’m glad you look out for her!xxxxx


    1. Glad you looked out for your old lady too, PP. The elderly need good neighbours as well as family. The trouble is that as people age they don’t think as clearly and they drop their guard.


  3. It is horrible and so nasty…I came across this preying activity a few times. Care saved one person from further distress but, by the time it happened, all her resources had been pilfered. In more recent years, even using The Court Of Protection did not expel one highly dubious character from gaining spoils.

    Although I have heard of men pressing their unwanted attentions onto older vulnerable men, it does appear to be mostly women who taken on this despicable role of taking advantage of vulnerable individuals, mostly, I would suggest, because there are more women who are alone and vulnerable than there are men.

    However, it is not exclusively ‘befriending strangers’ that are thieving from the vulnerable and frail, there are families who do it to their own, too.


    1. There’s a nasty old world out there for the vulnerable elderly, especially if they are also losing mental faculties. Good neighbours can make all the difference.


      1. TRUST becomes diminished as a belief when you are aware of what happens with some people and in some groups. Yet, you have to be able to trust.


      2. While I understand the point you make about being able to discern motivations, that is not the most intrinsic foundation on which to base trust. There has to be proof by action as well as by sincerity. I see the values relating to trust as being numerous, the depth of simplicity relating to it, is hard to define. It is easy to misunderstand motivation, likewise there is plenty to mistrust.

        You are right to exercise caution; sadly it has to be so.


      3. It’s a delicate and complex issue when looked at critically: and yet such a simple, necessary quality on which we base much of our lives.


  4. That sounded really scarey…. and indeed old people can become very vulnerable etc. I am glad these possibly bogus relatives cannot harm her or get their hands on her estate etc… and it is a lesson to all of us to write our wills and get them signed etc!!!


  5. Oh yes there are. I have heard some shocking stories of older people being taken advantage of and abused! Let’s hope that your lady is well taken care of from now. It’s something we all need to be aware of.x


    1. You must be so thankful that your mother is in such a trustworthy environment. Some of the elderly are so vulnerable and as they lose their mental processes that makes them even more so.


      1. I was just talking about this with someone recently who has been a senior nurse at Kingston Hospital for 40 years and is now caring for her Father. we both agreed that it’s vital for older people to have an advocate.
        I am so grateful that I was able to get my Mother into Hampton Care and the fact that it is just a ten minute walk away really ia fantastic. Not all old,frail people have family or good friends looking out for them.x


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