I once knew a kind old woman. Perhaps she wasn’t all that old. But old enough to have a married daughter. And certainly she was old enough to know better. But she didn’t have a clue what was going to happen if she wasn’t careful.
Her daughter was an only child. She and her husband were struggling to save and get a loan to buy a house. You know, the great Australian dream we all used to have? Sadly now out of the reach of many people in spite of Joe Hockey’s assurances..
The older woman owned her own house.She’d worked hard and paid it off since she and her husband had divorced many years before.
‘I could sell this house,’ she told the young couple. ‘We could pool our money and buy somewhere together. I could have part of the house and you could have the rest. Or perhaps we could buy a house with a granny flat. That would be really good. I don’t want to lose my independence.’
The couple were over-the-moon. They all bought a house together. No one talked to anyone who could have shown them how to look after everyone’s interests. When they moved in, the set-up seemed idyllic.
‘Now we can have a child or two, and I won’t have to go straight back to work,’ The daughter said.
‘Such a generous mother-in-law,’ the young man bragged to his friends.
Sadly, as these things happen, the couple found themselves in deep trouble. Eventually they separated and divorced. The young man was honorable.His wife and mother remained in the house. He and his wife worked out a way for him to get half of what they’d put into the house, plus a bit of interest.
The mother and daughter lived together for a few years. Then the young woman met another man, who moved in.
The relationship was not a happy one. After a year or two, the man decided that he didn’t want to live in the house with the old woman. He insisted she leave. The daughter was powerless to stop the eviction.
Because she had trusted her daughter and son-in-law, the old woman had no proof that she owned the majority of the house. She ended up homeless and was helped by a women’s refuge to find a cheap flat. Her only income was the Aged Pension.
This is an extreme example of financial abuse of an elderly woman. The daughter and her husband did not set out to defraud the old woman. But they did not act in her best interests either, and so financial abuse occurred.
This is a true story. It is one of many that occurs in Australia every year.
Monday 15 June 2015 is World Elder Abuse Day. Please wear a purple ribbon to raise awareness of this form of family violence.
If you or someone you know is the victim of elder abuse, contact
- Advocare Incorporated on (08) 9479 7566
- the Elder Abuse Helpline: 1300 724 679
- In an emergency, phone 000