Waiting for the world elder abuse awareness day 2019, we will post everyday a story from real-life situations where the human rights of older people in Finland, Ireland, Italy and Romania were not respected. Their stories illustrate the challenges older people face in having their rights met.
Grandfather’s Life Turned Upside-down by Granddaughter’s Actions
Antonio is an 81 year old man and a former employee of the local bank where he worked for more than 40 years. Antonio is a widow now but cherishes the memories of his late wife Margherita and the lovely terraced home they bought together after his retirement. Here Margherita tended her beautiful rose garden and together they enjoyed many Sunday lunches with family and friends.
Four years ago, Antonio’s granddaughter Stella got pregnant. Stella was living with her husband in a very small city centre apartment, located on the 4th floor without an elevator. She realised this would be difficult to manage with a small child. Stella proposed to Antonio that they should swap houses. She explained to him that his terrace house was now too big for him and the house and garden required a lot of work to maintain. Antonio was not happy with the idea as he knew he would be devastated to leave his and Margherita’s beloved house with all it’s memories, but he felt sorry for Stella and she persuaded him to agree to the arrangement. He recalls thinking, “you know, who could have said no for the good of a newly born great-grandchild?
In the beginning Antonio adapted to the new situation and settled in recognising the advantages of a smaller flat for a man living alone. However, very soon after moving into the new building, Antonio began suffering from arthritis and needed to use a cane. Having to use the stairs to and from the 4th floor very day became more and more painful and was aggravating his condition. Antonio felt he had no choice but to ask Stella to re-swap the house and flat, especially now that the baby had grown up a little. Stella refused to comply and she remains in the terraced house.
Antonio then sought permission and support from the authorities for the installation of a lift, but a year later he is still waiting for a response. He says, “reaching my apartment has become increasingly more difficult and I have ended up not going out any more unless it is strictly necessary “.
Antonio feels his life has been turned upside-down. He has limited accessibility between the flat and the outside world and he can’t enjoy living in his own property, “If you think about it, having a right and not being able to enjoy it, is the same as not having it at all”.
Antonio’s story highlights infringements of these rights
ECHR Article 8 Right to respect for private and family life: the enjoyment of his home and to create and maintain social relationships;
ECHR Protocol 1 Article 1 Protection of private property: not to be deprived of your house;
CRPD Article 16 Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse: protection from being coerced in the transfer of property;
CRPD Article 19 Living independently and being included in the community: adaptation of home to meet needs;
CRPD Article 20 Personal Mobility;
CRPD Article 30 Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sports.