Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | April 19, 2010

Landlord’s Be Aware

Gloria Martin has been a renter in Pheasant Towers for 23 years. Needless to say, she has been an ideal tenant, is known to everyone in the building and the relationship between her and the apartment manager, Angela Baxter, goes well beyond manager and tenant.

Over the past several months Gloria’s health has been deteriorating seriously and rapidly. She is seldom seen outside her suite and when Angela visits, sometimes Gloria doesn’t even seem to know who she is.

More concerning is that Gloria isn’t taking care of herself; she doesn’t seem to be eating or bathing regularly, the suite that used to be immaculate is filthy and has now become a health hazard.

During the past couple of weeks, Angela has received complaints from other tenants about Gloria yelling unintelligibly at various times during the night.

When Angela went to visit her today, hoping to discuss the yelling incidents, Gloria let her in the suite, then immediately accused Angela of trying to set her home on fire, and threw a heavy plate at her, barely missing her head.

Fearing for her own physical safety, Angela left, after which the tears started to flow. How could such a wonderful person whom she had known for so many years deteriorate so?

More pressing, Angela wondered what she could do. She can’t let the situation continue, both in the interests of Gloria and the other tenants. She knows Gloria has no family or close friends; Angela doesn’t think she even has a doctor as she’s always been so healthy.

On occasion we heard of situations such as these, but they only came to our attention once in a blue moon. Lately they seem to be occurring with greater frequently and from a demographic perspective, we can only expect them to increase as our population ages.

Stat’s Canada reports that one in ten Canadians is over 65 today; by 2031, that ratio will be one in four; and yet 65 is not considered old today with men and women living well into their 80’s and 90’s.

Given this fact, landlords can expect to encounter more “Gloria’s” in the future. Often there are no family members, or even more serious, some family members refuse to take responsibility for their aging relatives. Landlords cannot be care givers, nor assume the liability associated with such acts of kindness, but someone has to do something.

Angela turned to the Adult Guardianship Act which contains safeguards to ensure every person retains the right to live his or her life as the individual sees fit, provided the person is capable of doing so.

Excerpts from the legislation; “self neglect” is defined as the failure of an adult to take care of himself or herself such that the person is “living in grossly unsanitary conditions” or “creating a hazardous situation that will likely cause serious physical harm to the adult or others . . . ”

Section 59 states that in circumstances where it is necessary to protect an adult life, prevent serious physical or mental harm to the adult, and the adult is apparently incapable of giving or refusing consent for assistance; a person from a Health Authority can “remove the adult from the premises and convey him or her to a safe place.”

In most cases as extreme as this one, a Public Guardian and Trustee will also become involved and will safeguard and ultimately deal with the person’s assets, should the person have to go into a permanent care facility.

So if you encounter such a situation, contact your local Health Authority who will have professionals qualified to deal with “elder care.”

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