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March 4, 2008

Abandoning Elderly Parents - Elder Abuse or Family Dynamics?

Abandoning Elderly Parents – Elder Abuse or Family Dynamics

This is a contentious issue.

Many have to make the difficult choice of looking after their elderly parents at home, or place them in a nursing home. For many middle-aged children, it is a stressful time. Most will try their best to look after their own families and their parents.

What often happens with some is that the adult children may have been given an enduring power of attorney for their parents. Thus, they can just pay the nursing home bills from their parent’s assets.

No question asked, until perhaps personnel at the care homes discovered that there are no visits from the children; not even on public holidays.

In a worse case scenario, the children may even help themselves to the parent’s assets. They may convince themselves that they should be paid for their efforts in paying the bills and looking after that parent’s finances. Or, they have a supreme sense of entitlement. “Why not, I/we will inherit those assets anyway?”

Can we consider these cases as elder abuse.

Legally, if the children continue to pay the bills but have no other contact with their parent(s) no law has been broken. But, surely there is a moral obligation to visit the parent or parents. It is very difficult to judge such cases, unless the neglect led to more serious results. Then again, who is prepared to report that?

What about a case where neglect of a parent resulted in isolation. No contact, and leaving the parent to live in unacceptable living quarters, over 8 years? There is money to improve the living standard of the man. (see the Frank Punito Case). That man had worked hard to see to the financial security of himself and his wife in retirement.

What is the problem then?

Well, as the wife suffered from a serious mental illness, one of the children had been given the power of attorney to act for the mother. The adult children had the power to act for their mother in the property settlement.
More amazing in that case, is that the two adult children worked in unison regarding their parents. So, why wouldn’t they act to ensure that their parents live in comfort? Refusing all personal approaches from their father to work towards a property settlement. Inaction for a period of over 8 years is just UNACCEPTABLE in any language!

Can these two be excused for their inaction for a period of over 8 years?
Is this just a case of family dynamics?

Those two must have told their friends and relatives that they “miss their dad dearly”. The one who broke the story of this case received a sickening email; claiming “lies and deceits” and that those adult children “miss their father dearly”. The "whistle-blower" offered to make available, the large box of documentary evidence for the perusal of the anonymous email sender. That offer was never taken up.

How can those two adult children claimed "they miss their father"? According to the father (the victim), they visited him at his “hell hole” (the victim’s description of his living quarters) less than 5 times in 8 years. Yet, they used to visit their mother, at the front of their parents home, at least once or twice a week! So why did they NOT visit their father in the smaller part of the house? They missed him? Who are they kidding?

Should we dismiss this, and similar cases, as “family dynamics”?

Cases that leave an elderly parent isolated, in anguish, demoralized, lost dignity and may be denied access to his/her assets is elder abuse and neglect.
I just cannot agree with any justification of such actions as “family dynamics”.

According to the Toronto Declaration:

Elder Abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older
person”.
It can be of various forms: physical, psychological/emotional, sexual, financial or simply reflect intentional or unintentional neglect.

Not when the elderly parent suffered undue emotional stress, psychological torment, lost of dignity, denied his/her own assets and SHAME.

Do we consider child abuse cases as "family dynamics"?

Please Email me if you have any comments on this issue.

Andrew Chadwick

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DISCLAIMER

Any Charges Reported on this blog are Merely Accusations and the Defendants are Presumed Innocent Unless and Until Proven Guilty.

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