Caregivers face serious allegations for treatment of elderly man

A recent article illustrates some of the dangers faced by elderly individuals in Canada. Christos Vloyiannitis was a Greek immigrant who passed away on May 19, 2013 at the age of 78. He was married to his wife Marjorie who predeceased him. He and his wife moved from Toronto to Brighton in 2004. Mr. Vloyiannitis worked as a ships worker on the Great Lakes and then later as a cab driver.

His relationship to his caregivers, Terry and Pam Cross, began when Pam Cross worked for his wife Marjorie as a housekeeper. When Marjorie became ill, Pam Cross became her caregiver.

Some time in November 2010, Mr. Vloyiannitis allegedly executed a will making Terry and Pam Cross major beneficiaries of his estate. He also named them attorneys under powers of attorney for personal care and property. These documents were executed two days before his wife’s death at a time when he was emotionally vulnerable.

The day before his death, Mr.  Vloyiannitis was hospitalized in Trenton, Ontario. He was nearly unconscious and in horrible physical condition. Mr. Vloyiannitis had diabetic wounds on his fingers and feet and was severely underweight. Additionally, he came to the hospital with Do Not Resuscitate and “no comfort” orders.

Mr. Vloyiannitis’ sister, Angelique Koutoumanos, is challenging the will. Her position is that the caregivers abused Mr. Vloyiannitis’ vulnerability and that  they unduly influenced him in executing the will and powers of attorney. Additionally, her position is that her brother did not have knowledge of what he was signing and that he also lacked testamentary capacity. It is also alleged that the will was signed under suspicious circumstances.

Caregivers accused of isolating Mr. Vloyiannitis and “ransacking” bank accounts

The caregivers are also accused of spending on average $13,000 per month of Mr. Vloyiannitis’ money since the powers of attorney were executed. They are also accused of isolating Mr. Vloyiannitis and preventing his sister and her son from visiting him in Brighton, Ontario.

Furthermore, he allegedly missed his wife’s funeral despite being emotionally distraught by her loss after 36 years of marriage.

The caregivers allege that Mr. Vloyiannitis was “an assertive man who dealt with his own matters as he wished” and that he was “an authoritative individual who made decisions for himself.”

None of the above allegations have been proved in Court.

It will be interesting to see what happens in this will challenge. As the population in Canada ages, cases of elder abuse and power of attorney abuse are becoming more common. More and more vulnerable elders are exposed to situations where they may be taken advantage of by others including caregivers. Family members must ensure that they are involved in the lives of elderly individuals. Caregivers ought to be monitored closely. If there are any signs of abuse or undue influence, legal advice should be sought.

More on this story here.