Pensioner 'sold home to pay for medication'

JEAN Page is using proceeds from selling her home to buy medication for her mentally ill daughter as, mother and daughter struggle to make ends meet on the pension.

The Banora Point mother of three, who grew up in East London during the depression, says things are worse now for society's most vulnerable -- the elderly and the ill-- than it was back then.

"At least during the depression everyone was in the same boat; we where all poor, now it is just us poor people trying to survive on pensions or government allowances that are really struggling," the concerned 78-year-old mum said.

"It's disgusting, how can the old and the unwell be so undervalued?"

Mrs Page was one of about 150 pensioners to attend a rally on Monday at South Tweed Sports Club calling for greater financial support for pensioners who say their allowances are not enough to cover basic living expenses.

"I got up and spoke at the meeting because there are a lot of older people who are caring for the older children who are in a worse position than me," Mrs Page said, explaining she also draws a small pension from the UK which further affects her Australian allowances.

"I am worse off having sold my house that my husband and I worked all of our lives to own, because I am penalised by Centrelink for having money.

"I only get about $580 a fortnight and pay about $400 of that in rent, so there is not a lot left over to pay the bills and to live off.

"But I need that money to help pay for my own medical expenses and for Ally, because her medication is not cheap and she can't afford it with the pension that she gets. I am pretty good with money, but it will run out some day."

After having a successful career as a midwife and nurse, including a stint lecturing on the subjects at a university in Melbourne, Ally Page was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1981 and has been unable to work since 2002 because of other illnesses, including a deteriorating spine which leaves her in chronic pain, and a genetic disorder, Barrett's Disease, that is a pre-cancerous condition that affects her oesophagus.

"Mum helps me out a lot, not only financially, but helps me to get out there and find things to help me," the 54-year-old disability pensioner said.

"With my condition it is hard to get motivated and mum has helped me find organisations and get involved in groups to help me remain social."

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