Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Salute to America’s Elder Care Workers

Back in April, at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., a motley group of social scientists, researchers, artists and activists convened to discuss the value of the work of our nation’s “maintainers.” They’re the unheralded bunch who don’t get showered with attention as innovators (think Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg) do.

To make his point, Lee Vinsel, a conference organizer and an assistant professor at Stevens, argued that the world needs more Mary Poppins. The famed nanny’s story, Vinsel believes, “asserts that the most important thing in life is an ethics of care, that we can only see the world with clear eyes if we choose to value one another, and that an essential way of doing this is by undertaking underappreciated and undervalued mundane, ordinary labor.”

The ‘Maintainers’ Who Keep People Running

With Labor Day still fresh in our memory, I think we should all show respect and admiration for a particular group of “maintainers ”: direct-care workers, known by an array of occupational titles including home care workers, nursing assistants, attendants, and direct-support professionals. Unlike some maintainers who keep our bridges operating and our trains running, these maintainers keep people “running.”

The “maintenance” that direct-care workers provide enables family members to go to work each day knowing their loved ones are cared for. 

Direct-care workers provide the bulk of all paid, hands-on care to those who need assistance due to age or disability. They are the backbone of our nation’s elder care system — helping the oldest Americans bathe, eat, get dressed, remember their medications, get to and from doctors’ appointments and participate in meaningful social engagement. The work they do is essential. Yet even more than other “maintainers” who make technology or government work, they are often invisible and grossly underappreciated.

Home care workers make just over $10 an hour, on average, and work largely part-time, unpredictable schedules. Their annual income is often barely more than $13,000; one in four live below the federal poverty line.

The situation is slightly better for nursing assistants in nursing homes — median wage: over $12 per hour. Yet they suffer injuries at more than three times the rate of the typical American worker. Turnover in this industry is consistently high, too. More than half of the 600,000 nursing assistants leave their jobs every year. Due to high vacancies, nursing homes are short-staffed, workers are overextended and patients may not get the care they need.

Reasons for Their Poor Job Quality

You can point to a host of reasons for such poor job quality: a dysfunctional long-term care financing system, jobs that have historically been associated with unpaid “women’s work,” marginalization of the people who need long-term care and political disenfranchisement of low-income workers, to name a few. (See this recent Next Avenue article for more on this — America’s hidden long-term care problem.)

But like other maintainers, and perhaps even more so, the labor of direct-care workers is mundane and ordinary. They help with some of the most basic activities we all take for granted every day: eating, bathing and sleeping. Basic, yes, but without being able to do these tasks, we fail to thrive, to feel human, to exist.

What They Do for The Rest of Us

The “maintenance” that direct-care workers provide enables family members to go to work each day knowing their loved ones are cared for. A direct-care worker can be the difference between living well, remaining part of a community and being confined — whether in an airless room, a chair or a hospital bed.

In some cases, her work (and it’s generally a “her”) can be the difference between life and death. This is as primal and perhaps as mundane as it gets, but arguably the most important thing we have: the ethics of care.

How to Honor These Unheralded Workers

So let’s tell more stories about these heroic workers and elevate them in our public discourse.

Let’s rethink why we so easily accept direct-care workers living in poverty, despite their giving so much of themselves to maintain the lives of some of the most vulnerable Americans.

Let’s invest our public resources in maintaining people and not just things, ensuring that care is affordable and that those who provide care are paid for the value they bring to our lives.

We must recognize that without direct-care workers and other maintainers, we will not survive, but with an economy that puts value on this type of labor we will thrive.

Full Article & Source:
A Salute to America’s Elder Care Workers

Jewish Home Family chief named to state task force on elder abuse

Carol Silver Elliott
Carol Silver Elliott, president and CEO of the Jewish Home Family, has been appointed to the New Jersey Task Force on Abuse of Persons Who Are Elderly or Disabled. 

Ms. Silver Elliott, named to the post by Governor Chris Christie, looks forward to continuing to be active in promoting awareness of elder abuse and the importance of providing shelters for victims.

The Jewish Home Family opened New Jersey’s first elder abuse shelter in 2015, under Ms. Silver Elliott’s leadership. SeniorHaven for Elder Abuse Prevention, in addition to offering 90 to 120 days of shelter to victims of elder abuse, has convened professionals from various sectors to educate others on the signs of abuse and best practices to help victims seek shelter.

SeniorHaven is one of 14 shelters nationwide and is part of the SPRiNG Alliance, a network of regional elder abuse shelters with close working relationships.

“Elder abuse is an under-recognized and under-reported problem in our society and it effects millions every year,” Ms. Silver Elliott said. “To be able to help the most vulnerable, to work to assure that every individual has the ability to live a life that is safe and dignified is a vital effort. It is truly wonderful that the state of New Jersey is taking this important leadership step, and I am honored to be a part of it.”

For information on SeniorHaven or elder abuse, or to bring a speaker free of charge to address any audience, email or call (855) 455-0555.

Full Article & Source:
Jewish Home Family chief named to state task force on elder abuse

Dementia Antipsychotics Death Risk Higher Than Previously Thought: Study

Researchers from the University of Michigan indicate that use of antipsychotic medications like Risperdal and Seroquel among patients with dementia may be even more dangerous than previously believed, increasing the risk of death over the subsequent months. 

A study published this month in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry indicates that the dementia antipsychotics death risk appears to increase with dose, particularly men newer medications and those that include the same active ingredient as the antiseizure drug Depakote are used.

Although there has been a known risk of death associated with antipsychotic use among the elderly, the medications continue to be used as a form of chemical restraint in nursing homes, sedating dementia residents that are difficult to manage.

In this latest study, researchers looked at data on nearly 91,000 veterans age 65 and older with dementia from October 1, 1998 to September 30, 2009. The study looked at the effects on subjects given the drugs Risperdal, Seroquel, Haldol, Zyprexa, and drugs that are based on valproic acid, such as Depakote, Depacon, Depakene and Stavzor.

Researchers examined the risk of death over the next 180 days after the elderly individuals were prescribed the drugs, finding that use of the medications were associated with an overall 3.5% increased risk of mortality. That risk was dose-specific, meaning the higher the dose, the higher the risk of death. Antidepressants also appeared to increase the risk of death, but not to as strong a degree as antidepressants and valproic acid.

The FDA has previously warned against the use of antipsychotics with dementia patients, indicating that the medications provide no benefits and may increase the risk of death. Given what is known about the potential side effects of antipsychotics, use of the medications is often considered a form of elderly abuse when the purpose is to sedate the individual, rather than treat.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in conjunction with other federal agencies and private groups, is already battling antipsychotic drug use in nursing homes through the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care and other efforts.

In September 2014, the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care announced that it has set a goal of reducing the use of antipsychotics in long-term care facilities by 25% before the end of 2015. The group hopes to see reductions of 30% by the end of 2016.

“The harms associated with using these drugs in dementia patients are clear, yet clinicians continue to use them,” lead study author Dr. Donovan Maust, a University of Michigan and Veterans Affairs psychiatrist said in a press release. “That’s likely because the symptoms are so distressing. These results should raise the threshold for prescribing further.”

Researchers called for clinicians to look at non-pharmacological strategies first when treating dementia symptoms. However, they said the approach takes more time than writing a prescription and that whether doctors go that route will depend on reimbursement strategies and the actions of policy-makers.

The findings come days after a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found that too many elderly patients both in nursing homes and being treated at home are still being prescribed antipsychotics despite the FDA’s warnings that they do little to help and increase the risk of death.

The GAO report found that patient agitation, delusions, and certain setting-specific characteristics led to the use of antipsychotics as chemical restraints. The report found that the lower nursing home staff levels are, the higher the likelihood of unnecessary antipsychotic prescriptions to dementia patients.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has previously accused Johnson & Johnson of engaging in kickback schemes designed to convince doctors to prescribe their antipsychotic medication Risperdal to elderly nursing home patients, knowing that the drug was being used abusively and potentially placing patients’ at risk of death.

In November 2013, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $2.2 billion to the federal government to settle its Risperdal illegal marketing claims.

Full Article & Source:
Dementia Antipsychotics Death Risk Higher Than Previously Thought: Study

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Probate judge granted program that could erase attack charge

A Connecticut probate judge charged with choking his wife was accepted into a diversionary program on Tuesday that could result in charges against him being dismissed.

Judge Martin Landgrebe appeared Tuesday in Waterbury Superior Court and was accepted into the state's family violence education program. If Landgrebe completes the program, charges of misdemeanor strangulation and disorderly conduct would be dismissed next year.

Landgrebe continues to preside at Housatonic Probate Court in New Milford. He and his lawyer declined to comment on Tuesday.

Assistant State's Attorney Karen Diebolt did not object to Landgrebe's entry into the program. A full protective order barring Landgrebe from having contact with the woman was downgraded during Tuesday's court hearing to a residential protective order, which means he can have contact with the woman but has to stay away from her home.

Court documents do not identify the alleged victim, but Landgrebe's lawyer, David Moraghan, previously told the Connecticut Law Tribune that the woman is Landgrebe's wife.

Landgrebe turned himself in to police on Aug. 9 after learning there was a warrant for his arrest following a fight with the woman, according to court documents. The woman told police that Landgrebe pinned her in the grass by holding her throat, but that at no time did she have difficulty breathing.

Landgrebe told police he was defending himself. His lawyer has said that Landgrebe actually was the one who was assaulted.

Landgrebe filed for divorce soon after the incident, but withdrew the filing on Sept. 7, according to court documents.

Full Article & Source:
Probate judge granted program that could erase attack charge

Gentle Tomcat Comforts Elderly Veterans In Need Of Love And Support

Animals have special healing abilities, and anyone who has ever been sick with their pet around will surely agree with me.

Though medicine is important when fighting off an illness or healing a wound, there is something about snuggling up to your furry friend that instantly makes you feel better.

This phenomenon is definitely not just in our head;  there are plenty of nonprofits and organizations that use sweet service animals as a means to comfort people in times of need.

Even health centers are beginning to utilize the power that pets and purrs can have on the human spirit.

Salem VA Medical Center in Salem, Virginia, even partnered up with a local animal shelter to find the perfect pet to offer love to their many veterans.

Then they found Tom the cat, who made everyone in the hospital a little happier with his furry happy presence.

Check below to learn more about this amazing animal.

Animals always seem to have a healing presences; there’s no better feeling than a furry little friend snuggling up next to you when you’re not feeling well.

Salem VA Medical Center in Salem, Virginia understands this perfectly, and that’s why they have Tom the tomcat around.
In 2012, chief nurse Dottie Rizzo and physician assistant Laura Hart read the book “Making Rounds with Oscar,” which is a real-life account of a geriatrician and a cat who that comforted patients with dementia, who almost seemed like he could tell when they were going to pass.

They decided that they needed a kitty just like Oscar around for their vets in need, and got help from a local veterinarian to find the perfect feline for the job.

And Tom was the perfect cat for just that!

Loving and gentle, he slinks from room to room, cuddling up to patients who need a little extra love.

“Tom knows when someone is having a hard time. He laid on my bed a lot and I rubbed and scratched him the way cats like,”Army veteran James Gearhart explained to

“One day I gave him some of my Ensure vanilla drink and he drank every bit of it. Then he rubbed on me and licked my hands.”

Tom is there for the patients in the center, making the sometimes-grim environments a little happier and homier with his purrs.

He even comforts staff who have to deal with death; after pronouncing a veteran dead, Dr. Blake Lipscomb said that Tom looked up at him and meowed knowingly, having spent time with the patient and their family before they passed.

He even warms the hearts of people who aren’t too keen on kitties.

Though there is a ‘No Cat Zone’ in the hospital where patients and staff are guaranteed not to run into him, Tom usually ends up making friends with hospital-goers whether or not they are self-professed “cat people.”

He has also helped vets who have certain impediments due to age or disease.

A patient with Parkinson’s disease was even able to speak more clearly with Tom on his lap because petting him relaxed his mind and vocal cords.

He certainly brings joy to everyone at the center, both the vets and the staff who treat them!

Many find him on their lunch breaks to snuggle him and give him treats, while others diligently check to see if his litter box is clean.

Rizzo and Hart were right, the entire air is a little bit happier and homier with a sweet kitty stalking the ward.

Thanks to Tom and his special powers, these vets always have a healer, a friend, and a little source of happiness.  (Click to continue)

Full Article & Source:
Gentle Tomcat Comforts Elderly Veterans In Need Of Love And Support

Investigation Reveals “Epidemic” of Illegal Nursing Home Evictions

Advocates for the elderly are calling attention to nursing home evictions that violate federal law. Their complaints find support in an Associated Press investigation.

According to elder law attorneys, nursing homes are weeding out their most challenging residents, including those with dementia and severe disabilities. Nursing homes want to replace those residents with others who require less attention from staff.

About 1.4 million patients live in about 15,600 nursing homes. Both numbers have been steadily declining as children increasingly find other housing options for elderly parents, including assisted living facilities and in-home care providers. Perhaps because demand is declining, the AP investigation suggests that nursing homes are maintaining profitability by “cherry picking” the easiest patients.

AP Analysis of Nursing Home Evictions


The Associated Press examined complaints filed with the federal Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Each state has an ombudsman who attempts to resolve problems faced by residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other adult-care facilities.

The AP determined that complaints about involuntary transfers and evictions have increased by 57% since 2000. More than 11,000 discharge complaints were made to ombudsmen in 2014, making transfers and evictions the top-reported grievance that year.

An elder law attorney who directs the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative told the AP that evictions and involuntary transfers are emotionally devastating to nursing home patients, who are deprived not just of a home but of the community to which they have formed an emotional bond. Evictions separate patients from the friends and companions who provide a shield against depression.

Nursing Home Regulations


Nursing homes are permitted to discharge or involuntarily transfer patients under certain conditions. The Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 permits patients to be involuntarily transferred or discharged when:
  • the facility can no longer meet the needs of the patient’s welfare;
  • the patient no longer needs the services provided by the facility;
  • the safety or health of individuals in the facility is endangered by the patient; or
  • the patient has failed to pay for care (provided that the patient has been given 30 days’ notice of nonpayment).
Residents are presumptively entitled to 30 days’ notice if eviction is for reasons other than nonpayment. Since there are several exceptions to the 30-day notice requirement, however, the amount of notice that is required in any particular case is often unclear.

Eviction Motivations: Safety or Profitability?


Nursing homes must attempt to alleviate disruptive or aggressive behavior rather than turning to transfer or discharge as a first option. Patient advocates say that nursing homes stretch the rules, claiming (for instance) that they cannot provide adequate care for a patient with dementia even though the patient is still in the early stages of the disease, or that the patient poses a safety risk even though the patient’s behavior has been disruptive but nonthreatening. In many cases, the facility could provide adequate care but would prefer to serve patients who are less demanding.

A trade association for nursing homes takes the position that procedures are in place to assure that evictions comply with the law. The association’s senior vice president told the AP that some patients “require so much staff attention to manage them that the other residents are endangered.”

Advocates for the elderly agree that patients are evicted when nursing homes perceive them as taking too much staff time. They contend that the solution is to hire more staff, not to discharge the patients who need attention. Advocates also complain that nursing homes discharge patients whose children have made complaints about substandard care.

Managing only “easy” patients allows nursing homes to handle more patients with fewer staff members. Maintaining a balance of “easy” and “difficult” patients, on the other hand, requires nursing homes to increase staffing levels. Elder advocates argue that too many nursing homes maximize profits by operating with too few staff members.

Elder advocates also point to nursing homes that discharge patients who are on Medicaid so that beds can be made available for private-pay patients. Nursing homes make substantially more money per patient when they are not limited to the Medicaid reimbursement rate.

Poor Enforcement of Laws


Patients are entitled to appeal a discharge or transfer decision. Even when patients are aware of that right and muster the resources to pursue an appeal, nursing homes often disregard adverse decisions. A number of children told the AP about nursing homes that refused to follow orders to readmit their parents.

According to an elder law attorney with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, illegal evictions have reached epidemic levels. After reviewing nursing home violations in Philadelphia over a three-year period, the attorney could find only one instance in which an operator was actually cited for an involuntary discharge. The citation that was issued in that case carried no fine. Knowing that eviction rules have no teeth, nursing homes don’t worry about the law’s bite.

Proposed reforms range from stronger enforcement of existing laws to holding nursing home administrators personally liable for illegal evictions. Assuring that patients understand their legal rights is another option. Higher reimbursement rates for Medicare patients, particularly those with dementia who may require more staff time, might also encourage nursing homes to comply with existing laws.

Full Article & Source:
Investigation Reveals “Epidemic” of Illegal Nursing Home Evictions

Friday, September 23, 2016

9 Investigates: Woman says court-appointed guardian took 88-year-old aunt to unknown location

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. - The niece of a Flagler County woman called 9 Investigates after she said the 88-year-old matriarch of her family was taken to an unknown location by a court-appointed guardian.

Lillie White was declared incapacitated five years ago and has been a part of Florida’s Elder Guardianship system ever since.

A court filing stated White was “taken to an anonymous location” by a recently-appointed temporary guardian on Aug. 30, and her family hasn’t seen or heard from her since.

“She was not in danger. There was no emergency situation. There's no justifiable reason for her to be taken from her home,” White’s niece, Teresa Kennedy, said.

A Flagler County judge gave an elder law attorney the role of emergency temporary guardian in July after Kennedy’s mother, who is White’s sister, was removed from her position as guardian due to questions about her ability to provide proper care.

Family members dispute the allegation and said the longtime guardian was not afforded due process during the hearing in which she was removed.

WFTV legal analyst Belvin Perry presided over White’s original guardianship case in Orange County in 2013.  Perry recalled a contentious court battle amongst White’s family members over who should control and inherit the woman’s assets, including a substantial trust.

“The judge will appoint a neutral third party to act as guardian so the judge can get an impartial read on what's going on,” Perry said.

White’s case isn’t unique; There are more than 3,000 people currently being cared for through Florida’s Guardianship system; Anyone can petition for a person to be declared incapacitated in Florida, leading to control over their finances and, in some cases, with whom they socialize.

AARP estimated the amount of elder assets being controlled by guardians nationwide to be $1.5 billion.

White’s temporary guardian couldn’t talk about the case, but court records provided to 9 Investigates by White’s family showed the decision to move White to respite care was based upon attorney observations and recommendations of an independent care management consultant. The filing also noted that White “has never once asked about her sister nor her niece and has not asked to go home.”

“I don’t know why they're not telling us where she is,” Kennedy said.

There is a hearing Friday morning for plenary guardianship, which would give the guardian full control over White's every move.

The family said they plan to attend the hearing.

Full Article & Source:
9 Investigates: Woman says court-appointed guardian took 88-year-old aunt to unknown location

At 85 he foiled a financial scam; other seniors aren't so lucky

Eleanor & Stanley Podolski, Jr.
MARYLAND HEIGHTS • Coded locks on the retirement center doors speak to the challenges confronting patients and their caretakers. The security is supposed to keep people such as Stanley Podolski Jr. in, not out.

He landed here after wandering off from less-secure facilities. Podolski, 88, has dementia. Still, he remembers growing up in north St. Louis. Being a butcher there, then a loan officer at Pulaski Bank when it was on Cass Avenue.

He remembers being involved with St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, an independent Catholic congregation with Polish roots.

But he needed prompting to remember how he foiled a crime a few years ago that victimizes more folks like him every year. Somebody tried to rob part of his precious nest egg.

It wasn’t done with a mask and gun. Rather, blame fell to a woman he liked dealing with who sat at a desk off to the side of the teller windows at Regions Bank, 11920 New Halls Ferry Road, in Florissant.

Podolski invested $25,000 in certificates of deposit there in 2013 with the help of Kathryn Ann Smith, now 66, a bank associate, according to a police report that laid out what happened next.

When Podolski’s certificates matured, police records say Smith suggested that he put the cash in a money market account, which he did.

Six months passed.

Then Podolski wanted the cash in the money market account to be invested in a new batch of certificates of deposit. Smith was to complete the necessary forms. Podolski received a letter in the mail — without Regions Bank letterhead — detailing the five different CD accounts.

When Podolski checked his balances one day, there were discrepancies. With the help of his son, a former auditor and bank board member, they found monthly withdrawals they didn’t know about from the former money market account worth at least $22,000.

He had been the victim of a type of abuse that can be a tricky arena because it’s often laced with shame, diminishing mental health, stressed family dynamics and hopelessness.

Experts say financial exploitation of the elderly typically involves a person in a position of trust: anyone from a caregiver to a longtime hairdresser. There’s also the garden variety of scam artists who befriend seniors by telephone, online or in person.

And it’s a crime that will be a threat for a long time, with about 10,000 people turning 65 every day nationwide. Pockets of St. Louis County in particular, which saw tremendous growth following World War II, are ripe territory for financial abuse of older adults.

There are systems in place to help, but with limited effectiveness.

A Missouri law passed last year, for example, gives financial firms greater authority to step in if they have cause to believe a senior is being exploited.

The state, meanwhile, has seen a spike in calls to its elder abuse hotline.

In 2015, there were 27,595 calls to the hotline, of which 5,497 were about finances. In 2012, there were 23,693 calls, including 4,174 regarding finances, a fourth of which are typically substantiated.

“We are worried that elder abuse is underreported, not just in Missouri, but nationally,” said Celesta Hartgraves, director of the state’s Division of Senior and Disability Services.

She said more people will be abused as the number of older adults increases. She said seniors can be lonely. They tend to listen to scams. Some have greater financial resources yet suffer cognitive declines. They are often embarrassed to report being taken advantage of.

“Seniors are really attractive targets for that kind of fraud,” Hartgraves said.

Raising suspicions

Podolski’s case is unusual in that the victim got his money back just before dementia set in.

But that’s probably only because Stanley Podolski had a son — and a former bank auditor at that — as an advocate.

Even then, it took pushing for answers.

Podolski said in an interview that he had told the bank branch manager about his suspicions of missing money, but the manager initially suggested that it was Podolski, 85 at the time, who was probably mistaken. The manager described Smith, who had worked at the bank for years and was about to retire, as golden.

The more Podolski and his son pressed, the less the bank’s story held up. Surveillance tape didn’t place Podolski at the bank at the time of withdrawals. Signatures were off. And, amid Podolski’s chats with the manager, Smith walked off the job, never to return.

St. Louis County police found her at home, in the 10400 block of Durness Drive. Her elderly mother let them in and a detective explained the investigation. According to the police report, Smith said she had no idea what the detective was talking about. The detective, who didn’t believe her, showed her a withdrawal slip.

“That’s my handwriting, but that was for my mother’s money market,” Smith told police.

She clammed up and refused to say more without an attorney. Police arrested Smith on the spot. She was accused of forgery and financial exploitation of the elderly, charges to which she pleaded guilty.

“I caught her,” Podolski said from the retirement home.

Eleanor, his wife of 66 years, sat beside him, helped him navigate his history.

“She probably thought he wouldn’t remember,” Eleanor said about her husband being targeted.

Changing the law

In typical cases, seniors aren’t financially savvy enough to detect fraud, or don’t have children who hawkishly monitor their finances. There are seniors who have their savings drained and are too embarrassed to talk about it.

Financial institutions are aware of the risks but have been somewhat limited by what they can do if they suspect someone is taking advantage of a client. But the laws are changing.

Wells Fargo Advisors formed an elder abuse task force in recent years at its St. Louis headquarters to spot suspected abuse and poor judgment. The firm said it has worked with the attorney general’s office to get clients assistance and guardianship.

The task force looks for red flags, like when a 92-year-old client worth $8 million appeared confused and thought his accountant worked for the post office. It turned out no fraud was taking place, but Wells Fargo Advisors asked police to do a wellness check and filed a report with Adult Protective Services for possible self-neglect. The man has since been moved to an assisted-living facility and his neighbor is in the process of being appointed guardian.

In another case, Wells Fargo Advisors intervened when a widower in his 60s formed an online relationship with someone he believed to be a 37-year-old woman. He eventually sent her $26,000 when she asked for money to resolve a legal matter. The man’s daughter caught on but wasn’t authorized to make decisions on her father’s account.

Eventually, Wells Fargo Advisors contacted the attorney general’s office, and an investigator was assigned. The man is being assessed for guardianship.

Ron Long leads the task force, which was formalized in 2014.

“A lot of it was the numbers continued to grow,” Long said of suspicious cases. “The thought was to have a central place for financial advisers to call.”

He worked with lawmakers to create the Senior Savings Protection Act, which was enacted in Missouri in 2015. It allows broker-dealers to notify certain parties of potential financial exploitation.
They can also refuse disbursement of funds from a brokerage account for up to 10 days.

Wells Fargo Advisors has relied on the new law just once since it passed. The state has received six complaints and is working to train brokers on how to make use of the law.

Meanwhile, California-based Wells Fargo bank was recently slapped with a historic $185 million fine and more than 5,000 employees have been fired for opening accounts without client knowledge as a means to boost sales figures.

On a smaller scale, Kirkwood financial adviser Robert S. Beyer II, 45, was just convicted in federal court on charges stemming from promising investors 8 percent to 18 percent annual returns from Heroic Life Assurance Company, which had a foundation bankrolled by a fictitious wealthy South American named Jesus Cristobal. Officials said the victims, in their mid-50s and early 60s, lost about $300,000.

Saying sorry

Much of the responsibility to ferret out abuse remains in the awareness of seniors themselves and their caregivers.

After the incident at Regions Bank, Podolski’s son, Stanley Podolski III, took over control of his parents’ finances.

“I can’t believe that my dad was the only one” who was ripped off by Smith, he said.
He and his parents shook their heads at the sentencing.

“We couldn’t believe that she didn’t get any jail time,” said Eleanor Podolski.

Smith pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years’ probation. If she fulfills the terms of probation, the forgery and exploitation of the elderly convictions will be wiped from the public record.

Ed Magee, spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, said it was a matter of getting restitution or jail time.

“It was either or,” Magee said by email. “I am sure the victim wanted the money.”

Had a weapon been involved, he said, there would have been a 10-year minimum sentence for first-degree robbery. In this case, forgery and exploitation of the elderly didn’t have minimum sentences.
He said Smith, who lost her job, had no prior convictions.

“Her record will be clear after five years but will always be available to law enforcement and can be used in any future prosecution if needed,” Magee said.

In an interview, Smith took drags from a cigarette as she sat on her front porch, which had a large U.S. flag tacked up from Labor Day.

“It was stupid, really stupid, and I am paying for it,” said Smith, one of her six grown children sitting beside her.

Smith said she left studies in speech therapy years ago to raise a family. They lived in a Glasgow Village home that she stays in now.

She said she went to work at the bank in 1992 to help pay for private school for her children. First she was a teller, then a teller supervisor. She was a financial services rep when she got into trouble in 2013.

She said she didn’t know why she stole from Podolski.

“I just always figured I’d put it back, but it didn’t happen,” she said, though she said she paid back the money after being arrested.

An official from Regions Bank, based in Birmingham, Ala., was apologetic and said the case in Florissant spawned companywide changes. Those include security alerts and internal reviews whenever associates process transactions on inactive accounts.

“There is nothing we value more than the trust of our customers, and, unfortunately, in this case, one of our former associates violated both the trust of her customer and the trust we had in her as well,” bank spokesman Jeremy King said by email.

He said Regions Bank checked to see if other clients were targeted. “Thankfully, no additional cases were found.”

Smith didn’t want to comment about what the bank could do to decrease the risk of forgery.

But, she said, with the availability of online banking services by computer and cellphone, there’s no reason not to check your balances most days.

“Everybody should,” she said.

Full Article & Source:
At 85 he foiled a financial scam; other seniors aren't so lucky

How False Stereotypes About People With Disabilities Hold Employers Back

More than 25 years after the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), physical architecture and some educational opportunities thankfully have changed, but many negative attitudes and stigmas about people with disabilities have not. Indeed, a major Princeton study shows that while people with disabilities are seen as warm, they are not seen as competent.

Meanwhile, a study published by Cornell Hospitality Quarterly analyzed results from a survey of employers at 320 hospitality companies in the United States. It found that all the companies share a concern that those with disabilities could not do the work required of their employees. Another top concern was the potential cost of unspecified accommodations they might need to provide for a person with a disability under the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act. This is despite the fact that most such accommodations are not exceptionally costly.

There is also evidence that employers fear legal action should they terminate an employee with a disability. It is far more difficult to prove discrimination for not being hired in the first place. So, given the perception that people with disabilities aren’t competent, and could potentially be costly, why would an employer take the risk of hiring them?

One of the employers who took the “risk” was Randy Lewis, former Vice President of Walgreens and Fortune 50 executive, who led Walgreens’ logistics division for sixteen years, as the chain grew from 1,500 to 8,000 stores. Randy introduced an inclusive model of hiring people with disabilities at Walgreens’ distribution centers that resulted in 10 percent of its workforce consisting of people with disabilities — all of whom are held to the same standards as their colleagues without disabilities.

The outcome? Study after study turned out to be myth-busters. The employees with disabilities were more productive and loyal than their non-disabled peers! And most accommodations? Either free or cheap. But even when the relatively few more expensive accommodations were factored in, the overall costs of accommodations were far outweighed by the low turnover rates and better tenures of the employees with disabilities. Grateful for opportunities, and in many cases thriving on repetitive tasks, they are so loyal to Walgreens that recruitment costs were saved as the employees continued to stay in their jobs and deliver excellent results. You can learn more about this in Randy’s new book or on the Walgreens website.

Other companies such as Ernst and Young (EY), have also found inclusive hiring to be a winning ticket. Starting with its founder, Arthur Young, EY has always embraced differing abilities. Trained as a lawyer, Arthur was deaf with low vision and he wasn’t able to comfortably practice. He turned to finance and the new field of accounting to build his career. His disability drove him to innovation and entrepreneurship, which played a pivotal role in the development of EY. Finding and engaging diverse talents has been a key part of EY’s ongoing success.

Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, “David and Goliath,” extols the strength of people with disabilities. Because traditional ways of doing things don’t always work for people with disabilities, Gladwell demonstrates that they compensate for that in ways that benefit the workforce by developing incredible ways to innovate and succeed.

AMC Theaters, Lowe’s, many grocery stores and others are also getting outstanding results by hiring employees with disabilities. So what are other employers waiting for? They are still blinded by negative stereotypes. It’s time for people with disabilities to be seen for what they can do, and not for what they cannot. What can people with disabilities do? Think about it.

Beautiful music from a deaf man? It happened. Ludwig von Beethoven.

World changing words from someone with dyslexia? It happened. Thomas Jefferson.

A Super bowl champion NFL player who is deaf? It happened. Derrick Coleman.

A Nobel Prize for a scientist who failed in school? It happened. Albert Einstein.

Secrets of the universe being revealed by a man who uses a wheelchair and who can no longer speak? It’s happening. Stephen Hawking.

It’s time to change the narrative of how we see people with disabilities, so employers can see the abilities they have and the positive impact on their business’s bottom line. It’s amazing that such a small change can have such a big impact. It can — if it is done in a focused and strategic way.

Employing people with disabilities may take a little more forethought and planning. The U.S. government recently changed their expectations of federal contractors who now must become at least partially inclusive of hiring people with disabilities. There are many groups that can help in the process including Business Leadership Network, Project Search, National Organization on Disability and others.

As the Baby Boomers continue to age, a powerful answer to labor and talent shortages already exists in our own backyards — our own family members and neighbors with disabilities who want to work.

Recognize the disability. Imagine the possibility. Respect the ability.

Full Article & Source:
How False Stereotypes About People With Disabilities Hold Employers Back