Introduction: Legal issues affecting older people

For the purposes of this chapter, the terms “older people” and “seniors” refer to people over the age of 60 years old.

This chapter covers the following topics:

elder abuse including situations with the potential for financial abuse:

transferring property or assets in exchange for care,

loans and gifts,

use of funds without authority or in excess of authority,

misuse of powers of attorney,

pressure or fraud in relation to the signing of documents,

sharing the home with an adult child;

age discrimination;

grandparents’ access to grandchildren.

Currently in Victoria, 1.25 million people are aged over 60, accounting for more than 20 per cent of the population. By 2031, our older population is set to increase, comprising 22 per cent of the population in Greater Melbourne and 31 per cent in regional and rural Victoria.

Older people are highly diverse: 41 per cent of Victorians aged over 65 and 46 per cent of those aged over 85 were born overseas (ABS 2017).

While ageing provides people with opportunities and options, Victoria’s diverse older population can also be affected by numerous legal issues, some of which are unique to them.

This chapter provides information on some of those legal issues that are either unique to this population group or tend to impact disproportionally on older people. Many of the other topics in this book will also be relevant to older people.

This chapter does not cover these topics (while these topics are unique to older people, they are beyond the scope of this chapter):

residential aged care;

home care packages and support;

retirement villages.