Saturday, March 9, 2019

103-year-old woman becomes oldest National Park Junior Ranger

"I'm happy to protect it for my great-children to visit one day,” said Rose Torphy, now a junior ranger at Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon Conservancy, the official nonprofit partner for the park, swore her in last month. (Cheri Stoneburner)
A 103-year-old woman was named the National Park Service’s oldest Junior Ranger at a park she’s actually older than.

Generally, the Junior Ranger program is a stewardship program used to engage children and families in the preservation of national parks. But when Rose Torphy visited the Grand Canyon National Park last month, she felt inspired to join the program.

Rambling with Rose 🌹 Yesterday Christy swore Mama in as in as a Junior Ranger! At 103 I think She is probably the oldest Scorpion 🦂 In the 11 and above category.

"My parents taught me to care for the land but not all kids have that,” Torphy told Good Morning America. "I'm happy to protect it for my great-children to visit one day.”

Torphy was granted the “Scorpion” level of Junior Ranger, typically reserved for those aged 11 and older.

As a junior ranger for the park, Torphy has taken an oath to “explore, learn and protect” the park. Because Torphy visited the park during the national government shutdown, the Grand Canyon Conservancy performed her swearing-in ceremony.

She was sworn in from her wheelchair at the park’s souvenir shop. Torphy signed a certificate indicating her membership to the club dedicated to education and preservation and now wears a pin on her jacket.

Torphy first visited Grand Canyon National Park back in 1985, when she said she was able to walk around and explore the park by foot. Due to increased accessibility access, she was still able to return to many of the same spots she remembered.

"I was very impressed with the wheelchair access and ramps," Cheri Stoneburner, Torphy’s daughter, told Good Morning America. "We were able to get to an edge where she had taken a photo with my dad on their visit in 1985," she said.

On Feb. 26, the Grand Canyon will celebrate its 100th year as a national park.

Full Article & Source:
103-year-old woman becomes oldest National Park Junior Ranger

Miami attorney disbarred ahead of allegations he misappropriated more than $400K in client funds

TALLAHASSEE — Miami attorney David Philips has been voluntarily disbarred following a Feb. 25 Florida Supreme Court order ahead of disciplinary charges pending against him, according to a recent announcement by the Florida Bar.

"Charges pending against Philips involved the misappropriation of client trust funds," the state bar said in its Feb. 28 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order.

In its two-page order, the high court accepted Philips' uncontested petition for disciplinary revocation, tantamount to disbarment, before disbarring Philips and ordering him to pay $4,659 in costs.

Philips "agreed to cease the practice of law within 30 days of tendering the petition for disciplinary revocation," the order said. "Therefore the disciplinary revocation shall be effective immediately."

Florida court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion does not alter the effective date of Philips' suspension.

Attorneys disbarred in Florida generally cannot reapply for admission for five years and must complete an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam.

Philips was admitted to the bar in Florida on Jan. 6, 1999, according to his profile at the state bar website.

Philips was suspended following a November 2015 following a Supreme Court order following felony drug charges against him, including cocaine possession and burglary of an unoccupied dwelling. No action was taken in the burglary charge and the cocaine charge was dismissed, according to Philips' petition.

Disciplinary charges currently pending against Philips are two counts of misappropriation that involved more than $400,000, according to the petition.

Philips "contends that granting this petition will not adversely affect the public interest, the integrity of the courts, or the confidence of the public in the legal profession," the petition said. "Further, [Philips] contends that granting this petition will not hinder the administration of justice."

Full Article & Source:
Miami attorney disbarred ahead of allegations he misappropriated more than $400K in client funds

She chased down her scammer for a positive ending. Here’s why so many stories don’t end that way.


Full Article & Source:
She chased down her scammer for a positive ending. Here’s why so many stories don’t end that way.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Financial elder fraud reports quadruple; amount reaches $1.7 billion

The number of reports of financial fraud against older adults has quadrupled since 2013, with 63,500 filed reports describing more than $1.7 billion in actual losses or attempted thefts in 2017, according to a report released Wednesday by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The report’s statistics are based on suspicious activity reports filed with the federal government by banks, credit unions, casinos and other financial services providers. These reports, however, “likely represent a tiny fraction of elderly financial exploitation,” the CFPB said.

The findings, the bureau said, point to “the need for strong and diverse interventions by financial institutions, law enforcement, and social services, as well as the involvement of policymakers.”

Key findings of the report:
  • The average loss in 2017 was $34,200, although 7% of victims lost more than $100,000 each.
  • One-third of those who lost money were aged 80 or more years, losing an average of $39,200.
  • 52% of the reports involved money transfers, with an average loss of $32,800.
  • 44% of the reports involved checking or savings accounts, the type of financial product with the highest average monetary loss: $48,300.
  • Losses were greater when the older adult knew the suspect, averaging $50,000 compared with $17,000 when the victim did not know the alleged perpetrator.
  • In more than two-thirds of cases, financial institutions do not appear to be reporting elder financial exploitation to law enforcement or adult protective services, according to the report. “This is a missed opportunity to increase investigation and prosecution, and to make it more likely that victims will receive appropriate services,” the authors wrote.

The CFPB has published “Protecting residents from financial exploitation: A manual for assisted living and nursing facilities” as well as financial education placemats and other materials to educate professional caregivers, older adults and their families about financial issues; see the links in the left column of the placemat page and other information on the CFPB website.

Suspected elder financial abuse may be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint or 877-FTC-HELP and to the Senate Special Committee on Aging at 855-303-9470 or www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline.
 
Full Article & Source:
Financial elder fraud reports quadruple; amount reaches $1.7 billion

N.J. Nursing Home Fined $600,000 After 11 Children With Disabilities Died During a Viral Outbreak

On Monday, Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, New Jersey, was fined $600,000 after 11 children died and 36 became sick during a viral outbreak in fall 2018 after federal inspectors found widespread substandard care at the facility. Wanaque Center is home to more than 50 children with disabilities and medical conditions that require ventilators, in addition to 150 other vulnerable children and seniors. 

In September 2018, the facility had an adenovirus outbreak, a virus typically marked by cold and flu-like symptoms. In this case, according to NorthJersey.com, the adenovirus strain was particularly difficult to treat and proved deadly to Wanaque Center’s residents who were not given proper care during the outbreak, according to a federal report. The first child died on Oct. 9, 2018. An additional 10 children died from the adenovirus outbreak by mid-November. 

According to NorthJersey.com, federal investigators from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees nursing facilities, found “lapses in hand-washing and infection control, substandard care, a lack of involvement by the medical director, and poor oversight by the facility’s administration.” They also noted that the virus proved deadly due to a “failure to provide timely interventions and care.” This led to the $600,000 fine, which advocates say is “meaningful” in the state. 

Speaking with NJ.com anonymously, Wanaque Center nurses working at the center were told to delay sending sick children to the hospital for days after they spiked high fevers in excess of 103 or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Children were treated with antibiotics that often didn’t work while the facility turned up the air conditioning and administered Tylenol and Motrin to try and bring their fevers down instead of immediately sending them to the hospital. 

Those who were sent to the hospital went after a week of high fevers. Several died within hours of their arrival at the hospital. Others, according to NorthJersey.com, came back from the hospital with a new tracheostomy to improve breathing as a result of the delay in getting proper treatment. These claims were also reported in the federal investigator’s report, though Andrew P. Aronson, an attorney for Wanaque, told investigators the child was expected to get a tracheostomy before contracting the virus.

Full Article & Source:
N.J. Nursing Home Fined $600,000 After 11 Children With Disabilities Died During a Viral Outbreak

Affidavit: Woman assisting elderly person with broken hip stole $20,000 using blank checks

Cynthia Lynn Black
While assisting an 84-year-old who suffered a hip fracture, a woman reportedly stole over $20,000 using signed blank checks intended for the purchase of necessary items for the elderly woman.

Cynthia Lynn Black, 45, is charged with exploitation of an elderly individual – a third-degree felony.

She was out of the Wichita County Jail Thursday afternoon on $10,000 bail.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit:

A representative with Adult Protective Services reported a case of adult exploitation to the Burkburnett Police Department on Jan. 24.

APS turned over a large packet of information to detectives.

The intake documents stated that the victim had been living alone and managing her own finances when she suffered a hip fracture. She was moved into nursing home in Burkburnett.

The victim enlisted the services of Black as an assistant to run errands for her, including purchasing personal items for the victim. She said she would sign a blank check and give it to Black to makes these purchases.

In December of 2017, Black reportedly began writing checks of questionable amounts.

The APS investigator reviewed the victim's bank records and found $21,532.08 of questionable charges were taken from the victim's account over a four-month period.

The investigator asked the victim about the checks and the victim noted all of the checks that were unauthorized.

On Feb. 4, detectives went to the nursing home to speak to the victim.

The victim said Black had taken over $20,000 from her. She told detectives she would sign a blank check twice a week and give it to Black to purchase personal items that the victim needed.

She said Black was only supposed to go to Walmart or United Supermarkets to purchase items for the victim.

The victim said Black would bring her the things she needed but would pull the tags off them first and not give her a receipt.

She said she had no idea how much money Black had been taking out of her account because she was not getting her bank statements.

Black had reportedly changed Black's mailing address to have all of the victim's mail delivered to Black's address. The victim said Black was not bringing her the bank statements.

Full Article & Source:
Affidavit: Woman assisting elderly person with broken hip stole $20,000 using blank checks

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Guardianship Abuse Focus: Kristyan Calhoun and Senior Avenues

Guardianship Abuse Focus: Kristyan Calhoun and Senior Avenues


There is a current case against Kristyan Calhoun, her realtor friend (Thomas Parker), and Senior Avenues alleging breach of fiduciary duty, civil conspiracy, and violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act.(RCW 19.86.010 et seq.)

In December of 2016, Dorothy O’Dell needed to sign a Power of Attorney in order to be released from the hospital where she stayed in South Dakota. The Power of Attorney presented to her, with no legal representation, assigned Kristyan Calhoun of Senior Avenues in Yakima, Washington. Dorothy intended to move to Washington to be near family. The Power of Attorney was sweeping and intrusive.

Immediately, Kristyan Calhoun began to liquidate Dorothy’s assets. Dorothy specifically told Calhoun not to, and Dorothy’s two rental properties were rented and generating income for Dorothy.

Calhoun ignored Dorothy’s instructions and in February of 2017 she sold Dorothy’s rental for $28,000 to Calhoun’s personal friend, realtor Thomas Parker. The property was never listed or “exposed to the market”. The property’s tax assessment valued it at $66,000 and the Zillow estimate for it was between $106,761 and $139,550. The home rented for $850 a month. A general rule of thumb is that the property is worth 10x its monthly rental. The home had been rented to the same tenant for 6+ years.

Calhoun’s next move was to sell Dorothy’s other rental for far less than market value in a similar scenario. That rental had been earning Dorothy $1000 a month for several years.

Dorothy owned both properties free and clear and the property taxes were paid.

Dorothy’s recovery from her hospital stay was a long and arduous one before she was able to live independently again, reduce her medications, and get her own affairs back in order. That was when she discovered that her properties had been sold by Kristyan. Hoping to regain her life and rid herself of the overbearing costs of Kristyan Calhoun’s “protection”, Dorothy attempted to revoke Kristyan’s Power of Attorney and assign Dorothy’s brother as PoA. Dorothy also sought legal counsel to right the wrongs of Calhoun and Parker.

Calhoun’s response? She petitioned to place Dorothy in a full guardianship. She also filed an Order of Emergency Temporary Relief which granted Calhoun the equivalent of a guardianship over Dorothy. Most importantly, it stopped Dorothy from being able to revoke Calhoun’s Power of Attorney. Calhoun also filed an order granting a preliminary injunction to revoke Dorothy’s ability to sue or be sued other than through a guardian, protects Calhoun at least for the time-being. Meanwhile, in her current position, Calhoun can (and IS) dissipating proceeds from Dorothy’s asset sales, including $10,000 in Calhoun’s attorney fees. It’s a bully move, but a typical one from Calhoun. At the first sign of resistance from her victim or their family, Calhoun uses the legal system to shield herself and isolate her victim.

Dorothy is in limbo until her trial in May. She’s seen none of the proceeds for the sales of her properties and has lost the rental income from them. Her Social Security checks of $590 now go to Kristyan, who generously (sarcasm intended) gives Dorothy a portion of the income. At one point, Kristyan appointed two of her staff to hand-deliver a $500 check to Dorothy (and charged Dorothy $124 for the delivery). Dorothy has never once seen the $590 a month from her Social Security check.

We’ve seen this pattern repeated by Calhoun but in reverse. Typically she starts out as a guardian. When she comes under fire for violating Standards of Practice, she gets herself removed from her guardian role and places herself as Power of Attorney (because she can do that as a guardian). The Power of Attorney role has very little oversight other than a court of law (the guardianship certification board is meant to oversee guardians). Courts of law are spendy, especially when you’ve been fleeced and are looking at a bleak retirement, stripped of your assets.

It must be worth it to Calhoun to seek the guardianship position and drop the case against herself in Kitsap County, despite any theoretical oversight she may be exposed to from the Certified Guardianship Board. Given that our own complaint has been “under investigation” for 18 months as of now (Feb. 2019), she likely calculated correctly.

She has some risks associated with taking this route though. First, Dorothy has pushed that she wants a jury trial — a jury of her peers to determine whether she needs a guardian or not. Knowing how Calhoun operates, she’s blown all of Dorothy’s money. If Calhoun wins, she would ONLY gain the ability to stop the other case. Dorothy has no value whatsoever to Calhoun. If Calhoun loses (which is highly probable, in my opinion), she not only is out her legal fees (thousands of dollars for litigation) and possibly (hopefully) Dorothy’s legal fees, but also is exposed to the case against her in Kitsap County.

What Happens If Calhoun et al. Lose the Case Against Them in Kitsap County?


Here’s hoping that her reign of terror ends and she loses her certification. She also may be required to pay damages to Dorothy (or possibly her insurance would). That might be the crux of why she’s taking this big gamble to place Dorothy in guardianship. Hopefully Parker would lose his realtor license, and pay damages.

Why is Calhoun even in this position to begin with? Why would she, immediately after being assigned POA, sell her victim’s assets for so cheap? The assets were generating income, were paid for free and clear. As of December, 2018, Calhoun has spent $100,000 of Dorothy’s money, with $25,000 of it going toward Calhoun for her fees (delivering checks, etc.) That is the single largest expense that has been paid from the proceeds. The second largest expense? Calhoun’s attorneys ($10,000 paid, and $32,000 not awarded or paid yet). Even if Dorothy was in desperate need of funds, a better course of action would have been to get Dorothy the best price possible for her assets, rather than get Parker the best deal possible on a rental for his portfolio.

Calhoun has bent herself over a barrel. The only reason she’s in her current position is because she’s trying to stop the Kitsap County case, which would likely put her out of business.


Scenario 1: Calhoun wins the guardianship case. There’s no money left. Which means she’ll be performing no duties for Dorothy, no assistance, nothing. She’ll also receive no income. No one gains from this scenario — Dorothy certainly doesn’t. Even if she DID need a guardian, she wouldn’t have one in Kristyan Calhoun, who’s already demonstrated that Dorothy’s well-being is the least of Calhoun’s concerns. (But, she may still stop the Kitsap County case.) Even if Kristyan is awarded fees in this scenario, Dorothy has no money left to pay it with. Outcome: Dorothy bankrupt, Kristyan $0, but likely not facing Kitsap County case, so able to continue abusing others.

Scenario 2: Calhoun loses the guardianship case. Dorothy is hopefully awarded fees (don’t get me started on that!). Dorothy pursues legal action in Kitsap County. Dorothy gets 100% of her Social Security check and doesn’t have to pay a $124 “delivery” fee, and doesn’t have to deal with any further abuse from Calhoun and her associates. Dorothy: life somewhat restored, Kristyan: loses several thousand dollars if she has to pay fees. Kristyan: would then face court in Kitsap County.

Scenario 3: Dorothy appeals the decision in Yakima, removing the injunction so that she can sue without a guardian, and wins. Dorothy’s lawsuit against Kristyan Calhoun, Thomas Parker, et al. in Kitsap County proceeds, Kristyan’s Guardianship petition proceeds in Yakima County. (If Dorothy loses, we are looking at Scenarios 1 and 2, with probably a billion variations, but those two seem the most likely). Fortunately, Dorothy has filed a notice of discretionary review (Feb. 7, 2019). This is similar to an appeal. While it could take some time (a couple of months?), it’s a step in the right direction.

There is a line from a Meatloaf song that applies here, “folks, we have a real pressure-cooker now!”

“First they took my property, now they want to take my life!” Dorothy O’Dell


The problem is, in every scenario, Dorothy loses everything.

Everything.

And who cares? Kristyan certainly doesn’t. Thomas Parker doesn’t care. He got a smoking deal on a rental from a little old lady. The lawyers don’t. Win or lose, they get paid. They ALWAYS get paid.

Dorothy has worked and saved and accumulated her portion of wealth over the course of her lifetime, only to have it irresponsibly squandered in a matter of months. She would have a difficult time getting a job now, and frankly, she put in the time and effort to ensure that she wouldn’t have to work now. She has earned a retirement that has been stripped of her by greed. Dorothy is truly a victim in all of this.She’s overcome adversity to be in a position that, if she were allowed access to her assets, would be comfortable. Instead, because of Calhoun and Parker, she’s now in a position of being a burden to society with no control over her future.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship Abuse Focus: Kristyan Calhoun and Senior Avenues

Disbarred Poughkeepsie attorney Michael Varble faces 7 felony charges

Michael Varble(Photo: Courtesy photo/State police)
Michael R. Varble, a Poughkeepsie attorney who was recently disbarred, faces seven felony charges in relation to “stealing unearned retainer fees from clients,” according to Dutchess County District Attorney William V. Grady.

Varble was charged on Wednesday morning with four charges of third-degree grand larceny and three charges for fourth-degree grand larceny, Grady said in a statement.

Varble was arraigned on Wednesday. Bail was set at $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond, which Varble posted, Grady said. Varble is scheduled to return to court March 20.

Varble was suspended as an attorney on July 9 amid accusations he failed to refund fees of clients who ceased their cases with his firm, totaling more than $32,000 according to court documents. He was disbarred in February after his resignation was granted by the state supreme court.

State police said an investigation began following a May 2017 complaint claiming Varble had accepted retainer fees and payments for legal services that had not been provided. The investigation revealed the lawyer, who lives in Kingston, had accepted payment "in excess of $28,000 from multiple victims" for services that were not provided, state police said.

Varble, who Grady said represented himself in court Wednesday, told the Journal "I have no comment" on the charges.

He was checked into Dutchess County Jail at around 11 a.m. on Wednesday, according to the jail, and released by around noon.

“Mr. Varble is charged in all of the felony complaints with stealing unearned retainer fees from clients,” Grady said. “A Dutchess County Grand Jury will ultimately determine what charges or additional charges should be preferred.”

Varble was suspended in July 2018 because he was found guilty of "professional misconduct immediately threatening the public interest" for failing to comply with demands from the Grievance Committee for the state's 9th Judicial District, according to court documents.

Varble submitted an application to resign as an attorney and counselor-at-law on Aug. 13 from the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department. As part of Varble’s resignation application, he stated that he could not defend himself against the allegations, and admitted to failing to return fees to clients.

The Grievance Committee for the state's 9th Judicial District had received at least 18 complaints from former clients of Varble's law firm who claimed that neither he nor his associates responded to them. There were at least 11 of the cases in which Varble did not refund clients their retainer fees, even if the fee wasn't earned through representation.

The Grievance Committee recommended the approval of the resignation.

Per his resignation, Varble was ordered to no longer practice law, or give an opinion as to the law or its application. He was also ordered to provide proof of payment of these fees, should he decide to file any future reinstatement applications, according to court documents.

Full Article & Source:

Letter: Call on lawmakers to stop elder neglect

To the editor,

The death of the Valley Health resident (Herald, Feb. 22: "Investigators document neglect at Thief River Falls assisted living center") should have never happened. But this is why we need to make sure that the comprehensive elder abuse reform legislation is passed this legislative session.

Call your legislators and let them know that the 22,500 reports of abuse and neglect in Minnesota can be stopped with the legislation being pursued by Reps. Jennifer Schultz and Liz Olson (both from Duluth) and Sen. Scott Dibble.

Kristine Sundberg
Minneapolis

Kristine Sundberg is president of Elder Voice Family Advocates.

Full Article & Source:
Letter: Call on lawmakers to stop elder neglect

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Tonight on Marti Oakley's TS Radio Network: Betrayed by Hospice with Host Marsha Joiner















5:00 pm PST…6:00 pm MST…7:00 pm CST…8:00 pm EST

Guest -Steven Garratt’s Mother Margaret Garratt –RIP -August 31, 2015  Dial 917-388-4520 and if you have questions select 1 on your phone and you will be put in a queue to speak or listen via internet at any time. Come join us and listen to Steven Garratt tell us how his Mother, Margaret Mary Ann Garratt age 90 died at a nursing home in Oregon August 31, 2015.

Margaret and her husband had raised their own children and fostered at least 55 during their life. Margaret lost her husband in 1998 and lived by herself for many years but in April2015 she had a stroke and went to the hospital and afterwards to a nursing home for rehab, recovery and remained at a nursing home in Gresham, Oregon. Steven did not have Power of Attorney (POA). On August 25, 2015 hospice staff were contacted by the POA, a sibling and immediately started giving her opioids and anti-psychotics (methadone, oxycodone, Haldol and Seroquel). She died 5 days later on August 31, 2015 after hospice arrival and the drugs administered to her. She even commented to her son, I’m in big trouble now, aren’t I? Sadly, he was not able to save her.

Steven has her medical records and an autopsy. Become aware of what can happen to you or your loved ones if you blindly trust rogue hospice and nursing home staff. It is our intent to inform people about the potential dangers, terminology and red flags.Stealth Euthanasia is happening across the country as elderly and disabled are being targeted for early death and deemed unworthy of more time on earth. All hospices are not bad, but so many are and you need to know ahead of time before you need any services for you or your loved ones. Most of the guests have lost loved ones whose death was hastened by medical predators. Education is key for you to know what is happening and not just listen to what you are being told by medical staff. You have the right to question doctors and nurses decisions, refuse drugs and/or hospice altogether.You should think hard about signing a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) because no effort will be made to save you and it gives the doctors and nurses authority over you. Having a strong Medical Power of Attorney is important and name someone you literally trust with your life.

The drugs most commonly used by hospice are: Morphine, Haldol, Ativan, Seroquel, and sometimes Methadone which is like morphine and/or Fentanyl which is 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroine. All of these drugs have bad side effects as with most drugs but they are more prominent with the elderly and have many side effects in common but the most important is coma and death.These are the drugs that are being given to many patients without knowledge of what the drug does and without consent from the patient or the families in many cases. We should all be informed about various drugs. Listed below are those drugs with its other name with the intended purpose of the drug and the side effects. We all need to know the names and potential side effects to look for. Morphine (Roxanol) is used to help relieve moderate to severe pain and is an opioid. Side effects listed are nausea, vomiting, constipation, light headedness, dizziness, drowsiness, agitation, confusion, hallucinations(visual or auditory), severe stomach pain, difficulty urinating, rash, swelling of face/tongue/throat, trouble breathing, slow/shallow breathing, blurred vision, muscle stiffness, bluish or purplish hue to skin,bluish hue in fingertips and lips and coma. Ativan(Lorazepam)is used to manage anxiety disorders associated with depression. Use caution with COPD patients and the elderly are more susceptible to sedation effects. Side effects include: sedation, dizziness, unsteadiness, fatigue, drowsiness, amnesia, memory impairment, confusion, depression, disorientation, convulsions, seizures, tremor, vertigo, eye function/visual disturbance, blurred vision, slurred speech, headache,

Drug interactions
gastrointestinal symptoms, nausea, constipation, jaundice, paradoxical reaction –anxiety, excitation, agitation, hostility, aggression, rage, sleep disturbances/insomnia, hallucinations and coma. Haldol (haloperidol)is another antipsychotic drug used to treat psychotic disorders like schizophrenia to control motor movement and verbal tics and treat severe behavior problems in children.It is NOT approved for older adults with dementia because of increased chances of death during treatment. Side effects listed are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dry mouth, nervousness, headache, dizziness, insomnia, restlessness, anxiety, rash, itching, spontaneous eye movement, mood changes, blurred vision, difficulty urinating, movement disorders. Severe side effects –deathin elderly, irregular heartbeat and renal failure. Seroquel (quetiapine)is an antipsychotic to treat mental/mood conditions as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Side effects include constipation, drowsiness,upset stomach, tiredness, weight gain, blurred vision, dry mouth, dizziness, light headedness with serious side effects of restlessness, tremors, shakiness, abdominal pain, anxiety, depression, nausea, vomiting, yellow skin, suicide thoughts, interrupted breathing, trouble urinating, severe drowsiness and loss of consciousness. 

If you have a story about a hospice or nursing home hastening a loved one’s death, contact Marsha Joiner at marshajoiner2018@gmail.comto be a potential guest on the show. You will need to have records that document your story. For more information check out www.hospicepatients.org which has many other stories and links to assist you. Knowledge is power –hopefully.

Listen to the show live or listen to the archive later

Guardianship program protects vulnerable citizens

Every county in Ohio has its own probate court, and each court is responsible for more than 200 separate duties.

The duties include handling wills, administration of estates and trusts, adoptions, marriage licenses, name changes and appointment of guardians for minors and incompetent adults.

Locally, the probate and juvenile courts are divisions of the Common Pleas Court of Guernsey County, and are led by Judge David Bennett.

The probate court is the superior guardian of those placed in guardianships and is responsible for monitoring guardians to make sure that they fulfill their duties.

Guardianship is one of the more restrictive protective services available under Ohio law and is only necessary when individuals are unable to care for their basic needs, finances, or medical issues and when a less-restrictive alternative is not feasible.

People placed in guardianship are especially vulnerable, and there is a great need for willing volunteers, family members, and attorneys to act on their behalf. In many cases, every decision affecting those individuals is in another person’s hands.

That is why it is so important for guardians to carry out their duties responsibly.

A guardian holds a unique role with respect to the minor or incompetent adult, and the guardian has an obligation to obtain an understanding of the fundamentals of that relationship. Formalized training is one means to gain that competency.

In June of 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court enacted new rules of superintendence that required the local court to establish new rules on guardianship. The most radical change was the requirement that all guardians attend a guardianship training course.

The Guernsey County Probate Court worked throughout 2015 to establish a Family Guardianship course, and in 2016 it was implemented.

As a result, the probate court adopted Local Rule 66, which requires family guardians to attend a shortened local version of the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Guardianship Fundamentals Training Program.

This program was developed in conjunction with the Guernsey County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health and Recovery Board and Area Agency on Aging Region 9.

The training sessions are offered four times per year at various times with all of the sessions at the Guernsey County Board of Developmental Disabilities building on Southgate Road in Byesville. All family guardians must attend this program once during the year.

The initial basic course titled “Responsibilities and Duties of Guardians” will be offered for new guardians of family members and those who have not yet completed the mandatory training. This training will be offered twice during the year on the designated dates listed below.

In addition, courses will be held with topics of interest to guardians, which were created from suggestions and questionnaires that were completed at the trainings over the past three years. Those who have already completed the initial course may choose to attend one of the alternate topic sessions to satisfy their annual training requirements.

This year’s training topics and scheduled dates and times are as follows:

‒ March 20 — Responsibilities and Duties of Guardians at 1 p.m.; Medicaid Eligibility and Information at 2 p.m.

‒ June 12 — Stress Management for Caregivers at 6 p.m.

‒ Aug. 12 — Stable Account/Payee Information and Estate Planning at 1 p.m.

‒ Oct. 17 — Responsibilities and Duties of Guardians at 10 a.m.; Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease Information at 11 a.m.

This program assists the guardians in complying with the law, as well as helping them learn about the different resources that may be available to them for the benefit of their ward.

For more information about the Guardianship Program, or the rights and responsibilities of becoming a guardian, please contact the Guernsey County Probate Court at 740-432-9262. The Probate Court is located on the second floor of the Guernsey County Courthouse, 801 E. Wheeling Ave. in Cambridge.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship program protects vulnerable citizens

The Perils Of Guardianship Abuse: Corporate Direct's LLC Strategies To Protect The Elderly

Guardianship abuse in the United States is an urgent yet underrepresented problem. However, Nevada has taken legal action, and families can protect themselves through LLC strategies.

 

When your parents reach the age when they require a paid nurse or regular visits from you, it’s common for representatives within the legal system to assume responsibility over their well-being. This unwarranted assumption has led to some horrific stories about older couples being ripped from their independence and forced to pay significantly more for a lower quality of life. 

Guardianship abuse is an underrepresented problem throughout the United States. In the face of negative publicity, some state governments have taken steps to deter guardianship abuse. Specifically, Nevada has become more aware of problems and has acted quickly. 

James Hardesty, a Justice on the Nevada Supreme Court and chair of the Nevada Supreme Court Permanent Guardianship Commission, is pleased with the results of the reforms. “Over the past year”, said Justice Hardesty, “we have seen dramatic improvements with how guardianship abuse cases are handled.” Reforms include giving potential wards the right to an attorney, creating a new set of more productive statutes for both child and adult guardianships, and staffing the Guardianship Compliance Office with an accountant to review each estate. 

However, it is clear that more judicial and legislative changes are needed. In some cases, basic estate planning whereby a living trust appoints a guardian when needed can be used to limit state intrusions. Absent such foresight, given the actions already taken and the actions yet to come, there is hope that Americans can come together and make changes in order to protect our elder family members and friends from these types of guardianship abuses.

Families Can Use This LLC Strategy Tip for Protecting Against Guardianship Abuse: 

Consider holding your parents’ assets (brokerage accounts, real estate and/or personal residence) in one or more LLC’s. Your parents will serve as managers of these LLC’s. However, if a guardianship is later imposed, a specially drafted Operating Agreement can provide that the children or a trusted advisor (and not the state or any of their appointees) become the managers. From this position your successor manager will be better able to fight the guardian’s attempts to improperly sell assets. 

Theodore Z. Sutton is a recent graduate of the University of Utah and will be attending the University of Wyoming Law School in the Fall of 2019. He is currently involved with legal research in Reno, Nevada.

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The Perils Of Guardianship Abuse: Corporate Direct's LLC Strategies To Protect The Elderly

Number Of Suspected Senior Scams Escalate

Fraudsters are increasingly trying to take financial advantage of the elderly, according to the U.S. Treasury Department, even as more protective measures are taken to protect seniors.

The Treasury Department said it received 24,454 reports from banks of suspected financial abuse of their elderly clients last year, double the number received five years ago and a 12% increase for the year. Banks are required to report suspected financial abuse.

The dramatic increase is probably attributable to both a rise in the number of scams and an increase in awareness and reporting, said Brie Williams, head of practice management at State Street Global Advisors, based in Boston.

“There is a louder voice in the media now about protecting the most vulnerable citizens,” Williams said. Federal and state legislation and regulations are being passed to help protect seniors from fraud and protect advisors and financial institutions from lawsuits if they report suspected financial abuse, she added.

The Government Accountability Office said seniors lose an estimated $2.9 billion annually from financial fraud. But the actual number is probably higher because fraud is an underreported crime—some victims don’t report it because they are embarrassed to have been a victim.

“As the population transfers from the workforce to retirement, too often elder investors are taken advantage of,” Williams said. “They are in a more vulnerable situation and may experience diminished capacities,” which increase the possibility of fraud. “But this is an opportunity for advisors to be more proactive.”

The Senior Safe Act passed last summer prevents advisors and financial institutions from being held liable for reporting suspected financial abuse to law enforcement or regulatory agencies. The new law also encourages firms and institutions to provide training for employees in how to spot financial abuse and what to do when they have suspicions. Many banks now have training courses and videos for employees to raise awareness.

In February, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority adopted two new regulations that address the senior fraud issue.

Rule 2165 allows banks to place a temporary hold on disbursements from accounts if an employee suspects the account holder is being duped. Rule 4512 requires advisory firms and banks to make a reasonable effort to obtain the name of and contact information for a trusted contact of clients.

Williams said there are telltale signs of clients experiencing diminished mental capacity that advisors should be aware of, such as when clients forget information or they have problems keeping up with financial details.

“Advisors now are reaching out to the trusted contacts of their clients when they see the warning signs,” she said. “It also is important for advisors to be aware of how to educate clients’ families on what to look for. The family members will see first if the person has trouble with basic math or has mail piled up.

“We, as advisors, have a fiduciary duty to do the right thing in these situations,” Williams said. “This is a global challenge, and it is an emotional, as well as financial, problem for the client. Education of the client is the first step because fraud can have a devastating impact on the client’s financial plan.”

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Number Of Suspected Senior Scams Escalate

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Family says senior living facility lying about 83-year-old father's death

ROSEVILLE, Calif — Gene Rogers, 83, had dementia and was unable to get around on his own. His round-the-clock care became too much for his wife, Kathryn, to handle by herself. So, the couple’s children sold their parents’ home in Carlsbad, Calif., and placed Gene in Meadow Oaks of Roseville, a senior living community, on Dec 30, 2017.

Gene was a Marine and a veteran of the Korean War. He loved golfing and stock car racing. He spent decades working for AT&T while supporting a family of five. His family says while his dementia affected his ability to get around, he was still smart and enjoyed life.

Their son, Jeff, says the family expected his father’s care to be long term. They chose Meadow Oaks because they were impressed by what they saw when they went to visit. They were also happy the price was well below the $10,000-a-month price tags they saw in the San Diego area. At first, the family was very satisfied. However, Jeff says things quickly changed.

“I noticed his care would start going downhill,” Jeff explained. “You could see he had food stains on his clothes. We'd go there a few times on the weekends and he would be outside on the patio. It was warm. He'd seem groggy and he was slurring his speech a little bit.”

Jeff says the family repeatedly asked the facility not to leave Gene outside unattended, but it kept happening.

“His nephew came in from Oklahoma,” Jeff said. “We found him, again, outside on the patio. Again, he seemed like he was a little bit groggy. We brought him back in and again asked the staff, ‘Hey, you know, I think you guys are leaving him out here too long.'”

ABC10 reached out to Westmont Living, the La Jolla-based company that operates Meadow Oaks. They issued a statement saying, "This case is in litigation, and it is neither fair nor proper to respond to allegations during this process. We understand that some counsel may want to litigate this matter in the press, or in the court of public opinion, but we believe this is an improper attempt to pre-dispose a potential jury pool."

The next week, Rogers was left outside for an uncertain amount of time and had to be rushed to the hospital. He would not return home.

Jeff said on June 30, 2018, he received a calm call from Meadow Oaks letting him know his father was being taken to the hospital to get checked out. He says there was no urgency in the caller’s voice, so he didn’t worry about it. Then a second call came from the hospital.

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“They said, 'Hey, your dad came here almost dead. He was in critical condition. His skin temperature was almost 104 degrees. They had to start life-saving procedures immediately'," Jeff recalled.

Rogers’ family raced to the hospital. They were horrified at what they saw. They say Gene’s arms blackened as if he was lacking circulation.

“We were looking at his legs and his legs were beet red because he had his shorts on and he actually had blisters from being in the sun,” Jeff explained.

The family was told there was little hope for Gene. He had lost his ability to swallow and his condition deteriorated. The hospital advised he spend his remaining days in hospice. Gene died 14 days later.

The Rogers family reached out to Carole Herman for help. Herman runs the Sacramento-based non-profit Foundation Aiding the Elderly (FATE). Herman filed a complaint with the California Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing Division, who conducted an investigation.

The California Department of Social Services investigation report states "staff failed to provide adequate care and supervision…which posed an immediate health and safety risk to resident in care." It also says "R1 (Gene) had been sitting outside for 1 hours, 45 minutes or longer when temperatures were increasing and reached 93 [degrees] by 12 p.m. when emergency services were called."

The department substantiated the complaint and planned to assess a penalty of $500, but increased it instead to $1,000 because the facility was cited for having repeated the same violation within 12 months.

The Rogers family hopes its position is bolstered by the ambulance report from June 30, 2018. The report reads: "Per staff PT (patient) was placed outside in wheelchair for a few hours. SNF (skilled nursing facility) forgot about PT."

Jeff says when he tried to get information on what exactly happened that day, he was given an explanation that doesn’t make sense.

“I met with the director there,” Jeff said. “I said, ‘OK, tell me what happened.’ She was like reading from a script. 'Your father got himself outside like he often did.' And now I'm thinking alright, number one, that's not accurate. 'We offered him water and ice at regular intervals and then he got himself back inside and then he was found unresponsive.' And I'm like, 'OK, you can't get yourself back inside because the doors are locked.' And that’s when things were just not lining up.”

The California Department of Social Services investigation report also details interviews it conducted with employees at Meadow Oaks. Those say Gene was given water at regular intervals. The report states, "Time cards shows S2 (employee) was responsible for monitoring R1 (Gene) on 6/30/18. She stated in an interview that she (S2) gave R1 water to avoid dehydration several times."

The Rogers family insists Gene was unable to get anywhere on his own. They say he wasn’t even able to manipulate the wheels on his wheelchair. They say that this makes a response issued by the defendants in the lawsuit particularly upsetting.

"Plaintiff Claude (Gene) Rogers failed to exercise ordinary care on his own behalf for his own safety," the plaintiff's response says. "That negligence caused the injury and damages alleged in plaintiffs’ Complaint."

“We know he couldn't care for himself,” Jeff said. “That's why we placed you in his care [sic]. That's why we paid you almost $6,000 a month, because he couldn't care for himself. I don't know how they can put the fault back on him. It's insulting.”

The Rogers family continues to mourn for Gene. They say his shoes will be hard to fill.

"My dad was the patriarch,” explained Jeff. “He was the one that really looked after everything for many many years. He and my mom were married over 60 years, so you know when you have something like that yanked out of your life all of a sudden, there's going to be a lot of getting used to for a long time.”

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Family says senior living facility lying about 83-year-old father's death

Nursing home employees indicted for involuntary manslaughter after patient’s death from bedsores

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)
The Ohio attorney general has indicted seven former Columbus nursing facility workers on dozens of charges following a patient’s 2017 death from bedsores.

Dave Yost announced charges last week against six employees and a contracted nurse practitioner at the Whetstone Gardens and Care Center. All told, the seven individuals have been hit with 34 charges, including involuntary manslaughter, with some stemming from alleged neglectful care of a second patient.

“This case goes to the heart of protecting the unprotected,” Yost said in a statement. “[E]vidence shows these nurses forced the victims to endure awful mistreatment and then lied about it.”

The first patient developed serious wounds on his body in February 2017, which progressed to gangrenous and necrotic tissue. Despite his worsening condition, nurses allegedly failed to take steps to save his life, with the man dying a month later from septic shock. A jury last week indicted Sandra Blazer, Jessica Caldwell and Kimberly Potter of involuntary manslaughter and gross patient neglect.

In the second case, staffers allegedly documented treatments that were never provided to a different patient, who suffered “physical harm as a result of the inadequate care,” Yost said. Records for that patient contained false information and forged signatures, with some care occurring at times when the woman was not physically present at the facility.

Five employees, including Blazer, were indicted on charges of forgery and/or patient neglect.

In a statement to McKnight’s, spokesman Ryan Stubenrauch said that Whetstone “vehemently disagrees” with any suggestion that its employees caused the 2017 death of its patient who suffered bedsores. He was transferred to the hospital five days before passing away.

On the second case, Stubenrauch said those issues came to the facility’s attention two years ago during an annual survey and were immediately addressed.

“As always, the health, safety and well-being of our residents is our No. 1 priority and we will continue to ensure that all of our residents receive high-quality care,” he said.

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Nursing home employees indicted for involuntary manslaughter after patient’s death from bedsores

Can the Village Movement Scale to Support Aging in Place?

by Tobi Elkin

 

Older adults want to age in place. Can the Village Movement grow to meet demand?


The trend is clear: Adults in the U.S. are increasingly looking to stay in their homes and communities–age-in-place–for as long as they possibly can. A 2018 AARP survey revealed that 3 out of 4 adults 50+ want to remain in their homes and communities as they age. The Village Movement, a national network of nonprofit membership organizations, provides support and services that enable older adults to continue living independently longer.

Villages focus on service delivery. Members pay a monthly fee for access to and help with transportation, small home repairs, household tasks, organized social activities and even tech support. While fees vary across Villages, they tend to start at around $25-$50/month. Most offer a sliding scale and financial assistance for those in need.

When members need support, they are connected to vetted and trained volunteers, many of whom are also members. Volunteers and staff who drive members also are insured. For larger projects, many Villages maintain lists of product and service providers, while others negotiate discounts for members with local businesses.
Local Partnerships Support Services
“Villages try to connect with service providers and partner with existing organizations,” says Barbara Sullivan, national director, Village to Village Network, a nonprofit organizing body and resource for the Village Movement nationally. “We’re not trying to make decisions for people, we’re trying to give them choices.”

Beacon Hill Village in Boston, the longest running Village founded in 2001, offers members access to discounted service providers (lawn care, plumbers, electricians, tax experts, etc.), restaurants, home health care providers, fitness trainers and prescription drug cards that supplement Medicare Part D coverage.

“We don’t do direct care but we have a list of vetted services and providers, the vetting includes background checks. We make sure agencies are licensed and we track quality,” said Laura Connors, executive director, Beacon Hill Village.

In Los Angeles, ChaiVillageLA, a collaboration of two area synagogues Temple Emmanuel and Temple Isaiah, offers lists of recommended businesses and community resources for its members–though they’re not formally vetted. Instead, the faith-based Village’s 218 members offer recommendations and reviews.
Services Are Designed to Meet Local Needs
In rural Yancey County, N.C., transportation is the most in-demand service provided by the MY Neighbors Village. The all-volunteer Village launched in 2017 with 10 members and 20 volunteers and has grown to more than 75 members and 63 volunteers, according to Chip Poston, Board Chair. In 2019, Poston is focused on expanding the Village’s service area to neighboring Mitchell County and recruiting more volunteers.

“I’ve traveled all over the world and I’ve never seen a group of people like this that have a pioneering spirit of taking care of their neighbors who are unable to do as well for themselves as they used to do,” says Enid A. Alley, 74. Alley relies on MY Neighbors to take her food shopping and to doctor’s appointments. Volunteers have also hung pictures for her, taken her shopping for a new TV, and set it up in her home.

In suburban areas like Takoma Park, M.D., outside of Washington, D.C., transportation is also a key service—but so are walking groups. Members of this 220-member, all-volunteer Village range in age from 57 to 95. In addition to rides, personal shopping and home repairs, the Village of Takoma Park offers members social activities such as a Senior Strolls program and regular group walks.
The Village Movement is Seeking to Scale
There are more than 200 Villages across the U.S. with more than 150 in development, according to Sullivan of the Village-to-Village Network.

In California, a coalition of nearly 50 villages and partners formed Village Movement California as a way to scale the grassroots model. The coalition was recently awarded a planning and organizational development grant by the Archstone Foundation to help raise public awareness of the movement, and increase the number and size of Villages.

One key to successful scaling is developing strong funding sources. The Village Movement relies on foundation grants, individual giving and membership fees to support operations. Beacon Hill Village also collects fees from ticketed events to pay for a host of services and activities for its 380 members, 140 volunteers and a paid staff of 6. The Village’s Creative Kitchens Tour is an annual fundraiser supported by local business sponsors.

Madge Sargent, 78, is a subsidized member of Beacon Hill and a Creative Kitchens Tour volunteer. “There’s something in it for everybody and for every stage in your life,” she says. As a new member eight years ago, she signed up for day trips, conversations and walks, and became an “ambassador” who offers guidance to new members. “What [the Village] did for me, I could never repay them.”

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Can the Village Movement Scale to Support Aging in Place?

Monday, March 4, 2019

Ohio’s Guardianship Laws Leave Seniors Vulnerable to Abuse

Ohio has struggled to care for vulnerable seniors, and it's getting worse.

The state's probate courts are responsible for creating and monitoring guardianships of the frail elderly, balancing freedom and protection. They are already strained. And yet, between 2010 and 2030, the number of Ohioans over 65 is projected to rise by half, from 1.6 million to 2.4 million. Over the next seven years the number of Alzheimer's patients in the state is projected to rise by 13.6 percent.

Authorities don't even claim to know how many guardianship abuse cases are out there. "Once a guardianship is imposed, there are few safeguards in place to protect against individuals who choose to abuse the system," wrote the United States Senate Committee on Aging in its 2018 report on guardianship. "Few states are able to report accurate or detailed guardianship data."

Since 2015, Ohio probate courts have been required to monitor complaints and have a response system in place. While this information can be requested by the public, no single agency tracks it across the state.

Already, state probate courts charged with protecting vulnerable citizens are strained. During 2017, the courts opened 6,864 adult guardianship cases, versus 2,159 involving children. As caseloads rise, courts struggle to find, pay, and monitor guardians. The resource shortage leaves older adults even more vulnerable to exploitation or abuse.
Some counties keep tabs on the well-being of wards through visits with court investigators or volunteer visitors. In others, the guardian is the only person who reports the condition of the ward back to the probate court.

A study by the Scripps Gerontology Center found that while most courts have investigators, only 28% of them said that monitoring guardianship is a regular part of their job. Just one in four Ohio probate courts have at least one full-time investigator on staff.

"I think one of the major issues that every county is experiencing is a lack of funding for these services," said Amy Restorick Roberts, who studies guardianship and teaches at the Scripps Gerontology Center. "Monitoring and oversight are critical steps that are very difficult to devote resources to if counties are strapped financially."

Restorick Roberts said that some smaller and rural counties still lack information management systems to help track general guardianship information. In her survey of 55 Ohio probate courts, only six counties could provide statistics on the reason adults were placed under guardianship.

"We need to have a better tracking system of who is involved and what their needs are and to ensure that their best interests are taken into consideration," she said.

"We have a real challenge in terms of making sure that these individuals are being served appropriately when we can't even track and identify who they are and what their situation really entails."

Adults who cannot care for themselves due to a mental impairment can be declared legally incompetent and thus become a ward of the state. A legal guardian can be a person, corporation or organization with the authority to make personal, financial and/or property decisions for an individual who lacks the capacity to do so.

"Being a guardian is pretty much like being a parent," said Judge Randy Rogers of the Butler County Probate Court. "It's a tremendous responsibility."

Ohio Boosts Protections

Before the summer of 2015, guardians were not legally obligated even to visit their wards."It was kind of a sad state of affairs," said Jack R. Kullman, the director of Franklin County's Guardianship Service Board.

Now, a guardian must meet with the prospective ward at least once before being appointed, and a minimum of four times a year afterwards.

The 2015 updates also require guardians to pass a background check and take a course offered by the Ohio Supreme Court before being appointed. Continuing education courses are now mandatory. These courses encourage guardians to consider the desires and preferences of wards whenever possible.

"Even though the guardian may be actually making the final decision the individual under guardianship should be involved to the extent they can in the decision-making process," said David English, a professor at University of Missouri School of Law who specializes in guardianship

Generally, he added, the aim is to "banish the view that the person is totally incompetent and 'Now I make all the decisions for you.'"

But even now, only 9 percent of Ohio's probate courts require that the ward be present for an initial court hearing, if able.

Adult wards have no rights guaranteed under Ohio law. A ward's bill of rights was initially part of the Ohio Legislature's reform bill, House Bill 50, but that section was dropped before the bill was passed.

And the reforms have not been free. Judge Randy Rogers of the Butler County Probate Court, which oversees about 1,000 guardianship cases, said his court filed 20% more documents from just two new mandated forms.

"It's a lot of work for probate courts and it's a lot of work that was created without any increase in resources," said Rogers. His staff is still still working on tracking down all the guardians appointed before the change, to make sure they've taken the course. Despite the challenges, Rogers said he believes the new requirements will have a positive impact, provided the courts embrace them.

"Was it good for us, to help us focus on what would make things better? Yes, it was good and a lot of work went into it," he said. "Now the job is for us in the probate courts to implement these changes."

Even after the reforms, contentious cases can be costly for the ward, partly for lack of a mediation program.

Legal fees pile up during arguments over who should be appointed guardian. Wards can lose a considerable amount of money in a legal battle over who gets control over their life, a battle in which they have little to no say.

What Can We Learn From Other States?

Ohio isn't the only state seeking answers.

Minnesota tackled financial elder abuse in 2012 by establishing a Conservator Account Auditing Program (CAAP). It created an online system for uploading records of court-appointed conservators and hired a team of auditors to periodically review them. A related initiative is called the Conservator Account Review Program (CARP).

According to Minnesota Judicial Branch Audit Manager Jamie Majerus, roughly 4,800 Minnesotans had assets under conservatorship in 2018 that were monitored by the programs. The value of these assets totalled $950 million.

In both programs, professionals supervised by certified fraud examiners oversee wards' finances. CAAP audits all conservator-managed accounts after the first year and all accounts with assets exceeding $10,000 every four years. CARP routinely audits all conservator-managed accounts, regardless of size, and can refer those accounts to CAAP if it spots potential problems.

After the audit, judges get an Account Review Report summarizing the auditor's findings and recommendations. A similar document is provided to the judge before conservatorship hearings.

One expert calls it the model for an auditing system.

Nevada addressed guardianship abuse after a fraud case drew national attention. Professional guardian April Parks used her court-appointed position to isolate and financially exploit more than 150 individuals in Las Vegas before she was caught. She got the maximum sentence of 16-40 years in prison after pleading guilty last November.

Nevada's reform efforts since have made it a national example, said Rick Black, Director of the Center for Estate Administration Reform.

In 2017, the Supreme Court of Nevada created the Permanent Guardianship Commission, made up of judges, advocates and attorneys, to oversee and improve the state's guardianship practices.

Wards must be present at a hearing, if physically able, and must have legal representation. A proposed ward can hire his or her own lawyer, but many are appointed by the court through legal aid centers.

"Now, protected persons and proposed protected persons have trained lawyers fighting for what they want, not what everyone thinks is in their best interest," said Jim Berchtold, who leads the Guardianship Advocacy Program at the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

Berchtold believes that a lawyer independent from the probate system can best serve wards as an impartial advocate.

"Even if a protected person is unable to express his or her wishes, the mere presence of an attorney to represent them helps to ensure compliance with the statutes and dissuades financial exploitation and other abuses," he said.

Nevada also created a Guardianship Compliance Office, which supports district probate courts by reviewing cases and performing investigations upon request. It can investigate the health and welfare of a protected person, locate guardians the court has lost contact with, and run forensic audits if a judge is concerned about a ward's accounting.

"Before the court didn't have those resources to dig in and investigate," said Guardianship Compliance Manager Kate McCloskey. "We have one district court that calls our audits 'liquid gold.'"

The GCO also operates a hotline for anyone who has questions about guardianship or needs help reporting guardianship abuse.

Berchtold and McCloskey said Nevada's 2017 Protected Person's Bill of Rights was another major step forward. It includes the right to be educated about guardianships, to participate in developing plans that will affect the ward's future, and to remain as independent as possible.

Overburdened Ohio courts can be particularly overwhelmed when family members disagree on the proper way to care for loved ones who can't care for themselves.

In April 2013, Fourough Bakhtiar, an Alzheimer's patient, went to lunch with her daughter, Jaleh Presutto. She never returned.

Ten days later, Bakhtiar signed a document giving Presutto power of attorney. Bakhtiar had originally filed for divorce in 1988 but later dropped the case. Soon after she went to live with Presutto, she filed for, and was granted a divorce, after about 50 years of marriage.

Neurologists who examined Bakhtiar at the time said dementia made her "vulnerable to exploitation."

The question of her care has plagued the courts in Lorain and Cuyahoga County for six years.

The court later removed Presutto and her husband as guardians after they pled guilty to separate felony counts of forgery and unlawful use of property for misappropriating money from their son's school district.

Bakhtiar's new guardian, attorney Zachary Simonoff, supported Bakhtiar's petition to end her marriage. He said that while she was incompetent as a matter of law, her dementia did not bar her from expressing her wishes. He also pointed out that it's not the first time Bakhtiar has filed for divorce. She and her husband were separated for about four months in 1988; Bakhtiar began divorce proceedings, but ended up moving back in with her husband instead.

Her four sons disagree. They allege that their mother was unduly influenced by Presutto, who wanted access to the funds from a hefty divorce settlement. They said the lawyers involved in Bakhtiar's care have supported the divorce because they profit from the legal fees.

Simonoff said the only reason the Saghafis oppose the divorce is that they want their father to keep the settlement money. He said the family's appeals are to blame for the legal fees billed to Bakhtiar's estate.

"If they would stop suing the guardianship, there would be a severe drop off in the money that's going to attorneys," he said.

Jamsheed Saghafi vehemently disagreed. "I couldn't care less about the money that was stolen," he said. "I want my mom returned. If (the attorneys) want the money, go ahead and burn it all."

It's been years since Bakhtiar last saw her family. The court has ordered that Mehdi Saghafi not contact his ex-wife. The rest of the family is welcome to visit, says Simonoff, provided they give him one business day's notice. Jamsheed Saghafi said the family won't visit her until his father is allowed to join them, but they will continue to appeal the case.

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Ohio’s Guardianship Laws Leave Seniors Vulnerable to Abuse