Martin, 64 years of age, had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and was living at home with his wife of many years. Martin’s wife was appointed as his Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA). Martin experienced a psychotic episode after the administration of a trial drug for Alzheimer’s. Following a period of hospitalisation, Martin’s wife admitted Martin into residential care without any consultation with him or his family.
Martin’s brother rang the SRV helpline seeking assistance for Martin. A telephone advice appointment was arranged for Martin to speak to a lawyer and an advocate at SRV, with his brother there for support. During the advice appointment, it was clear that Martin wanted to leave the facility and live independently and freely. Martin’s brother confirmed that he was prepared to assist Martin to do so, if there were no legal restrictions.
The lawyer and advocate provided initial advice to Martin, informing him of his rights. Martin requested a copy of his EPOA from the manager at the facility. He was denied this right.
After consulting with Elder Rights Advocacy and the SRV lawyer, the SRV advocate contacted the manager of the facility. The advocate explained that the refusal was a breach of Martin’s rights and the facility’s obligations under the Charter of Aged Care. The manager was unaware of the requirements under the Charter of Aged Care and apologised, saying that Martin would be given a copy of his EPOA.
Martin and his brother received ongoing legal advice and advocacy support/coaching for Martin to leave the facility. Martin moved in with his brother and sister in law, who was supportive of the plan and an experienced aged care worker. He then needed to remove his wife as EPOA, as she had continued to ignore his will and preference, was selling off his personal items and had accessed Martin’s superannuation and other bank accounts – all without Martin’s consent.
The SRV lawyer advised Martin and his brother to lodge an application to VCAT, under the Guardianship and Administration Act, seeking removal of the Attorney. SRV supported them with the application and assisted with gathering medical reports and undertaking a cognitive assessment by a neurologist experienced in cognitive decline.
For nearly two years, the SRV advocate and lawyer supported Martin. This included representing Martin at VCAT hearings, having regular consultations, and liaising with external services such as mental health providers, NDIS, and a private law firm. While it was clear to SRV staff that Martin did have cognitive decline, SRV took an empowerment approach to their assistance of Martin. Martin was able to clearly identify and communicate his intended goals. Martin’s brother demonstrated his commitment to support Martin achieve his goals and to live independently.
Martin now lives independently in his own unit, in a lifestyle village. He manages all areas of his life except for his financial matters. His brother is his financial administrator, as per a VCAT order. Martin has concluded a family law property settlement and obtained a divorce. He had his driver’s license reinstated and purchased a car. He attends exercise classes twice weekly, walks daily, and spends time with family and friends. Martin is in good physical health. His cognition has improved so much that he has resumed his passion for reading books. Martin’s next goal in the coming months is to drive solo to QLD to visit friends.
If you, or someone you know needs of some support you can call the SRV Helpline on 1300 368 821
Seniors Rights Victoria collects a lot of data about who calls our helpline and why, as well as how many data about the advice we give and the cases we support. We reviewed our helpline data over the final six months (July-December) of 2021 and compared the data to the same six months the previous year.
Here are the results:
The helpline is currently being reviewed.
A campaign to raise awareness of elder abuse has been launched by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The video campaign raises awareness about the warning signs of elder abuse and where to get support.
Thousands of Australians experience elder abuse every year, and sometimes from those closest to them. Calls to the National Elder Abuse phone line increased by 87% between January 2021 to June 2021 compared to the previous six months.
“Elder abuse can happen to any older person, regardless of their background, and anyone who comes into contact with older people – be it friends, family, health professionals, hairdressers, librarians and many others – may be in a position to notice signs of elder abuse,” Age Discrimination Commissioner the Hon Dr Kay Patterson AO said.
“A key risk factor for financial elder abuse is an increase in financial pressures on the children of older people, such as loss of employment and rising housing costs. COVID-19 may be exacerbating these pressures,” Dr Patterson said.
The National Elder Abuse phone line is Australia-wide, free and confidential.
You will be connected through to the most appropriate service, including Seniors Rights Victoria's helpline.
You can also call the Seniors Rights Victoria helpline on 1800 368 821
A year ago, George, who is 82 years old and lives alone in the family home, agreed that his son, Petro, could live with him. George has chronic arthritis and has limited mobility. This has become worse in the last 6 months and he is more reliant on Petro for support.
When Petro moved back home it was on the understanding that he would take care of his father and he obtained a Carer’s Allowance. In the last two months, Petro’s behaviour has become unstable and he’s neglecting the care of his father. Petro has stopped people visiting George, including service providers and other family members. When George’s daughter telephones the house, Petro answers the telephone and hangs up. George’s friends have stopped visiting because Petro is aggressive towards them.
As George has difficulty moving around, he’s unable to leave the house or shower, without assistance.
George was motivated to agree to his son moving in with him because of the support his son, Petro, would provide. However, Petro is neglecting George’s needs and is keeping others, who might be able to assist, away from George.
George’s health and wellbeing are a priority in this situation. Seniors Rights Victoria often has concerned family and others telephone to express worry for an older person, who is being socially abused in their own home. There are options to address these situations and talking to the Seniors Rights Victoria Helpline can provide information about how to assist an older person.
*Personal details have been changed to protect our client’s privacy.