Elder Abuse: Failing to Provide the Necessities of Life if a Crime

The court found that the daughter seriously abused her position of trust in relation to her mother, in addition to benefiting financially from keeping her mother with her. Even though the daughter had limited mental capabilities, she knew or ought to have known that her mother required medical attention and the failure to provide her mother with the necessaries of life contributed to her death.

R. v. Nanfo

Mary Nanfo always lived with and relied on her parents. After the death of her father, she became the primary caregiver for her mother, Maria Nanfo. Mrs. Nanfo was obese, almost blind, incontinent, suffered heart attacks and had been diagnosed with dementia. Especially towards the end of Mrs. Nanfo’s life, her daughter provided little care of any kind. The house was unsanitary: human feces covered the floor, walls and bedding while garbage was piled high. Despite her serious medical conditions, Mrs. Nanfo had not seen a doctor for years. The daughter frequently left the home for long periods of time, leaving her mother home alone. When Mrs. Nanfo eventually died of a heart attack, her daughter waited more than 24 hours after her death to call the police because she wanted to try to clean up the house. The court sentenced Ms. Nanfo to imprisonment for one year to be served as a conditional sentence in the community. The court arrived at this sentence because it felt Ms. Nanfo loved her mother “in her own way.” The court found that Ms. Nanfo had a lifelong dependence on her parents which resulted in her being only marginally capable of looking after herself and unable to care for a senior with great care needs. As the situation grew worse, it had become harder for her to handle and the situation may have been aggravated by depression.

R. v. Noseworthy

Donald Noseworthy lived with his 78-year-old mother in her home. She developed rapid onset Alzheimer’s disease and became incontinent and progressively cognitively impaired. Mr. Noseworthy admitted to assaulting his mother due to her lack of communication skills and because she would soil herself. He also permitted his mother to live in filth and with horrible personal hygiene. The floor of almost every room in the house (except the one belonging to Mr. Noseworthy) was covered in urine and feces. He would not help her to eat although she ate little and required assistance. In the days before her death, he left her lying motionless and did not call 911 for fear that his abuse of his mother would be discovered. Mr. Noseworthy was convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment for manslaughter and two years imprisonment for failing to provide the necessaries of life (to be served concurrently).

R. v. Peterson

Dennis Peterson, his sister and 84-year-old father resided in the same building but the doors between the apartments were locked. Mr. Peterson lived on the second floor, the sister stayed on the third floor while the father stayed in the basement.

The father’s apartment and living conditions were not sanitary: he did not have a working kitchen or toilet; the apartment was full of cockroaches; the dirt floor was covered in dog feces; and both his clothes and person were unwashed. Police found the father lost on the street and advised his son about community agencies that could help look after his father but none were contacted.