Monday, July 27, 2015

Protecting aging parents from in-home caregivers

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - Many in-home caregivers are unlicensed and have little oversight on the job and that can leave aging parents vulnerable.

Tuesday,  Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies arrested Kathy Jean Elliot and charged her with two counts of Exploitation of an Elderly Person and theft.

Elliot worked for Hanson Services as an in-home health care companion for the victims. Elliot removed large amounts of jewelry from the victims' homes and pawned the items.

During the investigation, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office discovered another case of elderly exploitation. Anita Louise Puskas, also an in-home health care companion with Hanson Services. Puskas withdrew large amounts of money from the victim's bank account, deputies said.

"They were likable girls," said Georgana Collins, administrator at Hanson Services "We didn't suspect either one of them. It was rather shocking to all of us."

But Michelangelo Mortellaro, an elder law attorney in Tampa, said exploitation of the elderly from in-home caregivers is all too common.

"You don't really know this person, and that person may indeed take advantage of you." Mortellaro said.

If you have aging parents, Mortellaro said try if possible to have documents drawn up sorting out who has control of bank accounts and financial information before in-home caregivers are hired.

"That also prevents people coming in and attempting to take advantage of you after you have let's say, a memory care issue," Mortellaro said.

Mortellaro also recommends checking up on in-home caregivers. He said make sure food is being prepared and actually eaten by your aging parent. He also said check pill bottles to ensure medications are actually being given out and distributed properly.

He also said check receipts, bills and bank accounts to ensure there's no unusual activity or transfers.

"Keep close tabs using that power of attorney," Mortellaro said.

He also recommends making sure any caregiver hired is licensed, bonded and insured.

Hanson Services management told ABC Action News all of their approximately 40 caregivers are licensed, bonded and insured, and these two employees passed multiple background checks, but unfortunately, it wasn't enough to protect some clients.

"I just want them to know how sorry Hansen Services is that they were victims of someone who worked for us," Collins said. "It's rather sad for us to see this happening."

Hanson Services says they are cooperating with detectives and have reached out to all clients who have had contact with these two caregivers.

Detectives are continuing the investigation and ask that any other victims contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at 813-247-8200.

Full Article & Source:
Protecting aging parents from in-home caregivers

1 comment:

Betty said...

You really can't trust a home health company to do the background checks, etc.