A family have revealed their anguish after discovering that their 91-year-old mum who suffered from severe dementia was allowed to wed her live-in carer just months before she passed away.
“The first we knew mum had got married was the GP’s office after she died when he started waving around the marriage certificate,” Daphne told The Sun. “None of us could believe this had been allowed to happen.”
According to The Sun, Folan and Joan said their vows in front of two witnesses just five months before the 91-year-old passed away from cancer in March 2016, having initially met in 2011 when Folan moved into Joan’s home.
The had been diagnosed with vascular dementia, which causes memory loss in older adults, particularly among those at higher risk of stroke due to obesity or diabetes.
Daphne also claimed that her mother had been struggling to identify members of her own family, let alone recall the name of her husband, and could no longer recall her address, questioning how the wedding was allowed to go ahead.
Her children have now also lost their £210,000 inheritance after the registry office annulled Joan’s will – despite Daphne being named as power of attorney. They were also left with a £200,000 legal bill after attempting to challenge Folan in court.
The family are now calling for a change to law as she believes that her mum may not have been aware that she was married. Daphne added: “She didn’t even know her own address yet was given the go-ahead to marry a man whose name she couldn’t remember.”
Earlier this year, it was estimated that around five per cent of all older Australian’s fall victim to financial elder abuse, with trusted family, friends and carers taking advantage of those must vulnerable in a bid to swindle them out of money.
The Council on the Ageing (COTA) also called for a change in the law to protect those at risk of exploitation, demanding the creation of an online register to document power of attorney orders as well as the implementation of standardised power-of-attorney laws across the whole of Australia.
National Seniors Australia CEO Professor John McCallum said at the time: “It’s a heartbreaking situation and banking staff often see firsthand elderly people being taken advantage of by trusted family, friends and carers. As a society, we can and need to do more to support older people who are being exploited in this way.
“We welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement in February to progress a national plan for elder abuse and their budget commitment in May of $22 million over five years to standardise power of attorney orders.
“But we also need a designated organisation in each jurisdiction where bank staff can be supported to safely report suspected financial abuse for investigation. At the moment, police generally require the customer to make a complaint and the bank to make a formal application providing detailed information about the customer, for example their medical history. This is not an appropriate role for the banks.”