Saturday, September 26, 2015

Prattville caregiver steals cancer patient's identity
AUTAUGA CO., AL (WSFA) - An Autauga County woman has learned her fate after stealing the identity of the elderly cancer patient she was hired to care for.

Sherry Walters was sentenced this week on charges of identity theft and financial exploitation of an elderly person.

The victim was identified as an 82-year-old Prattville man who is a disabled veteran.

“She had been a caregiver in the victim's residence. He was an elderly cancer patient. While caring for him in his residence, she gained access to his identifying information and was able to use his personal information for her personal benefit,” said Jessica Sanders, Assistant District Attorney with Alabama’s 19th Judicial Circuit.

Prosecutors say Walters used the victim's identifying information over a period of six months during a time when he was traveling out of state for cancer treatments.

Walters was placed on 18 months of supervised probation after receiving a suspended prison sentence. She was fined and ordered to pay restitution.

“This type of crime that occurs with someone who you trust to care for you and work in your residence does cause you to feel violated. I think they were disappointed that she could have done this or that she would have done this and they were disappointed to have been placed in this situation at all,” Sanders added.

John Matson with the Alabama Nursing Home Association says elder abuse can take many forms, including physical and mental abuse as well as financial exploitation.

He pointed out that in-home care is different from nursing homes and assisted living facilities where there are many people every day, including employees, other residents and volunteers. If something does happen in one of those locations, it's often much more easily spotted and much more quickly reported.

When it comes to hiring an in-home caregiver, he recommends using an established company.

“If you do go the route of hiring someone on your own or maybe placing an ad in a newspaper or somewhere to find someone to take care of your loved one at home, it's important to do a background check, specifically a criminal background check. You will want to get several references and follow up on those references. Those things can help give you a little peace of mind as you get to know this new caregiver for your loved one,” Matson explained.

He stressed to importance of reporting abuse or neglect to local authorities.  (Continue Reading)

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Prattville caregiver steals cancer patient's identity

Office of Public Guardian host annual fundraiser

One case manager facilitated the reunion of 40-year-old, developmentally disabled twins who had been separated for 25 years. The same case manager led a team in relocating 20 people from an institution into community settings. Another case manager drove through the night to reach the bedside of a person who needed emergency surgery.

Working for the Office of Public Guardian is not a 9-5 job. The North Florida Office of Public Guardian is the court-appointed legal guardian for adults who are incapacitated, have no family or friends to assist them and no income or assets to pay for the services they need. Many of OPG’s clients are developmentally disabled, afflicted with dementia, mental illness, or suffering from brain trauma.

“We deal with adults and all our clients are mentally incapacitated or have some type of intellectual disability,” said Mary Callahan, program manager for the Office of Public Guardian in Tallahassee. 
“People don’t know what we do.”

The OPG is a 501c3 organization and is only partially funded by the Statewide Public Guardianship Office. It relies on charitable contributions from the community to assist them in executing its mission.

From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, the agency holds its Sixth Annual Getaway with OPG designed to raise funds to meet the basic needs of those it serves. Money is used for: personal items, Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, clothing, court filing fees, and burial policies, among other things. There will be food, fun, music, a silent auction, and volunteer opportunities to support the OPG year round. The goal is to raise $50,000.

The OPG’s 11-member staff serves 155 adults throughout 23 counties year round. The services include: financial management, consent for medical treatment, and appropriate residential choices. They’ve done it for the last 27 years.

“We serve over a third of the state of Florida,” Callahan said. “We are trying to get the word out about what we do. There are people out there who need help managing their finances and their daily living through our guardian program. Everything we do is through the courts. So many people we meet say ‘I’ve never heard of you.’”

A lot people confuse OPG with the Guardian ad Litem program, which deals mostly with children, Callahan said.

“We get a lot of referrals from guardian ad litem for children who are mentally incapacitated and are aging out and need guardianship,” she said.

OPG’s clients, which are called wards of the court, are vulnerable to exploitation by family members, friends, or neighbors who recognize that something’s wrong – but instead of helping the vulnerable adult, they help themselves to their money and other valuables.

More often than not, this person needs a guardian — a person who has been appointed by the court to act on behalf of a ward’s person, property, or both. Once a person is found to be incapacitated by a court, he is referred to as a ward of the court.

If you go

What: Office of Public Guardian 6th Annual. There will be food, fun, music, a silent auction, and vendor and volunteer opportunities available.

Where: Staybridge Suites, 1600 Summit Lake Drive, Tallahassee

When: Sunday from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Admission: Tickets are $10 general admission; $25 VIP admission.

For more information, visit, on Facebook at BigBendOPG or call 850.487.4609.

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Office of Public Guardian host annual fundraiser

Assisted Suicide Is Not Safe or Compassionate Care

California’s General Assembly approved legislation legalizing the regulation of doctor-assisted suicide. If the Senate follows through as predicted, California will be the fourth state to allow for individuals living with advanced illnesses to take their own life with the direct help of their physician and pharmacist. To some this news may be a welcome sign of progress in this era of patient autonomy and control. However, most Americans, especially physicians, understand that helping someone end their life is incompatible with a doctor’s fundamental role as a healer. It is understandable that a patient who is suffering from a terminal, painful, or debilitating illness would rather die than live. Yet, is this “choice” of suicide a real good decision for them or merely the illusion of choice?

Doctor prescribed suicide is a recipe for elder and disability abuse. It can easily put lethal drugs in the hands of those individuals who are abusers.

An abusive caregiver or relative can always pick up the lethal drugs from the pharmacy and give them to the patient with or without the vulnerable person’s consent. We must keep in mind that existing laws regulating this “choice” do not require a witness to be present.

Can we expect that the government and all insurance companies will do the right thing with regard to costly treatments? Or would they more likely to go with the cheaper “choice” by deciding only to pay for the drugs to end a patient’s life? This is what happened to Barbara Wagner in Oregon, where doctor prescribed suicide is legal.

Most people know someone who has been misdiagnosed or has outlived a terminal diagnosis. Can we trust doctors and insurance companies to know what the future really holds for us?

Laws and public policy regulating and influencing choices about when and how it is appropriate to die can have significant unintended consequences for all of us. In particular the elderly, terminally ill, and disabled can find themselves at a serious disadvantage due to their dependence on others for their care and welfare. Doctor prescribed death or assisting someone to end their life is neither safe nor compassionate care.

– Ryan Verret
Center for Medical Ethics
Louisiana Right to Life

This Letter to the Editor originally published in the September 21, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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Assisted Suicide Is Not Safe or Compassionate Care

Friday, September 25, 2015

Taxpayers foot bill for missing DDS money, reports say

WFSB 3 Connecticut
MANCHESTER, CT (WFSB) - A state agency charged with protecting money for people with disabilities reported thousands of dollars missing and repaid it with taxpayer money.

The Department of Developmental Services is a key link in the daily lives of thousands of people across Connecticut, according to those it serves.

Because its clients face challenges, the trust placed in DDS employees is high.

According to property loss reports obtained by the I-Team, DDS facilities around the state had clients’ money missing.

Most of the losses were small.

In Norwich, two residents lost $10 each. In Middletown, three residents shared $56 in losses. At Waterford Commons in Manchester, it was $40 in group grocery money that disappeared.

On Pine Street in Manchester, however, the problem was much greater.

The reports had $8,231 belonging to six residents missing. One individual resident lost nearly $6,500 in what DDS called “financial exploitation.”

After each internal audit, the thefts were reported to Manchester police.  In the cases, the state reimbursed the individuals. That meant in the end, taxpayers bought it and the state lost it.

DDS sent the I-Team a statement that said it takes allegations of financial improprieties seriously and beyond its own investigation, it often refers cases to police.

It also wanted to say that it pushed for a change in state law last year that would allow the department to place people who steal from their clients on the abuse and neglect registry.

Here’s the complete statement from DDS spokesperson Joan Barnish.

"The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) takes any allegation of financial exploitation very seriously in order to protect the individuals we serve. All allegations are investigated by the DDS Division of Investigations, Audit Division and reviewed by the agency's Human Resources Division and if necessary, referred to local authorities. During the 2014 legislative session, DDS advocated for a statutory change that now allows the department to include the names of employees who have substantiated allegations of abuse by way of financial exploitation on the DDS Abuse and Neglect Registry."

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Taxpayers foot bill for missing DDS money, reports say

THIS Is Really When Old Age Begins

by  Martha T.S. Laham

A 95-year-old Finnish woman may have set the record for the world's oldest woman to complete a bungee jump, according to Daily Mail. Magit Tall, who walks with the assistance of a cane, took a nearly 500-foot plunge, with the aid of a tandem jumper. She said that she wanted to make the jump before she died. Tall's feat is impressive for a person of any age, let alone a nonagenarian.

Let's take a look at what it means to age in a society that has mixed views on aging.

When Does Old Age Start? 

At age 68, according a Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends survey.

The survey also found that you're really as old as you feel. Sixty percent of adults aged 65 and over said they feel younger than their actual age, 32 percent said they feel their exact age, and 3 percent said they feel older than their age.

Perceptions of the onset of old age varied widely according to the respondent's age. People under 30 believe that old age strikes before the average person turns 60, whereas middle-aged respondents said that old age begins at 70 and adults aged 65 or older put the threshold closer to 74.

Gender made a difference in the findings too. On average, women said that a person becomes old at age 70, whereas men said that the magic number is closer to 66 years of age.

Ageism Hurts 

Princeton University researchers have explored the graying of the population as well as intergenerational tensions in the United States. In seeking explanations for ageism, or age discrimination, the researchers examined prescriptive ageist prejudices, which are beliefs about how older adults differ from others. For example, when older adults do not conform to these beliefs, they are punished by people who discriminate against them.

A surprising finding on ageism is that it can physically injure the elderly. One study found that people who held negative stereotypes toward aging were far more likely to experience heart attacks or strokes (25 percent), as compared to people who did not share these views (13 percent).

Two theories could explain this phenomenon. First, negative expectations can become "self-fulfilling prophecies." In other words, when an older person believes that older people are vital and vibrant, he or she is more apt to take care of him -- or herself. In contrast, when an older person believes that aging equates to sickness and infirmity, he or she may subconsciously become sick and infirm.

Second, genetics may play a role in people's perceptions of aging. For example, people who witnessed their parents age gracefully may have inherited good genes and also developed healthy attitudes and habits.

Baby Boomers Could Redefine What It Means to Grow Old
According to an NBC News report, whether ageism will become better or worse as more Boomers hit old age is unclear. To highlight that aging doesn't mean crippling old age, the report shared the story of a 74-year-old Duke University professor who has written several books on aging. The professor said, "One can say unequivocally that older people are getting smarter, richer and healthier as time goes on."

The professor is living proof that aging doesn't mean sitting in a rocking chair on a porch; he skydives, whitewater rafts, cycles, and gets tattoos. "What makes me mad is how aging, in our language and culture, is equated with deterioration and impairment. I don't know how we're going to root that out, except by making people more aware of it," he said.

60 Is the New 40

The frontiers of aging are not all gloom and doom. After all, 60 is the new 40! Take a look at older female role models: plucky actress, director, producer, and screenwriter Diane Keaton; age-defying celebrity, activist, former fitness guru, and W Magazine cover star, at age 77, Jane Fonda; actress and activist Susan Sarandon; and iconic international beauty Sophia Loren.

According to a columnist for The Seattle Times, Liz Taylor, "most of us age accidentally." Taylor recommends that we embrace aging. She also thinks we should drop euphemisms for aging, such as "old," "seniors," "elders," and "older." She adds that Boomers, many of whom are now seniors, do not respond well to these terms.

Shattering Old Stereotypes to Court the Mature Market
Today's so-called "mature market" flouts conventional stereotypes. After all, the image of a frail, grumpy elder is passé. Just take a look at pharmaceutical advertisements aimed at the mature market. While the ads focus on common ailments related to aging, such as arthritis, the people shown in the ads are vital, active, and engaged.

Some companies are reformulating their marketing strategies to attract older consumers. In Ameriprise Financial's "Dreams Don't Retire" commercial, the late iconic actor Dennis Hopper dispels conventional attitudes toward retirement. Hopper says, "Your generation is definitely not headed for Bingo night." The ad then talks about the Ameriprise Dream Book that offers a financial strategy to make retirement dreams come true.

Other companies are using cognitive age, or subjective age, and not chronological age in the development of their marketing strategies. Consider the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). If you've turned 50, the AARP has probably already sent you a direct mail package aimed at getting you to join. The organization tries to appeal to a wide audience, which presents an interesting challenge: communication messages intended for 50-somethings won't resonate with 80-somethings and vice versa. So the AARP developed ads that feature older adults at various life stages and that explain how the AARP's lifestyle-oriented information and services fit into their lives.

To avoid ageism in marketing, some companies address consumer lifestyles. Do you remember the Taco Bell Super Bowl commercial, "Viva Young"? In this fun ad, a pack of rebellious elders sneaks out of their retirement home to experience a night out on the town. They play pranks, go clubbing, make out, get tattooed, and, of course, stop for Taco Bell. The ad demonstrates that you're never too old to stir things up.

Mark Twain said, "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." Anyone for bungee jumping?

Full Article & Source:
THIS Is Really When Old Age Begins

State Attorney Ed Brodsky to discuss exploitation of the elderly

Brodsky to discuss exploitation of the elderly

BRADENTON -- Manatee Forum guest speakers State Attorney Ed Brodsky and Assistant State Attorney Lisa Chittaro will discuss scams, exploitation aand other white-collar crimes at a meeting beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Renaissance on 9th, 1816 9th St. W. Dinner costs $22.

White Collar/Exploitation of the Elderly, a specialized unit of prosecutors within the Circuit Court Felony Division, is responsible for the prosecution of financial crimes, including embezzlement, grand theft, schemes to defraud and exploiting the elderly, disabled or vulnerable.

Read more here:

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State Attorney Ed Brodsky to discuss exploitation of the elderly

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Search warrants served as police investigate guardianship exploitation

By Darcy Spears
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Breaking news in an ongoing Contact 13 investigation as search warrants are served at multiple locations.

Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has been shining a spotlight on guardianship exploitation for nearly a year. 

Now law enforcement is taking an unprecedented step.

"April, it's Darcy Spears from channel 13, would you please come out and talk to me?" Spears called through April Parks' front door.  After ringing the bell and knocking and waiting, Parks didn't answer.

"I know you're in there," said Spears through the door.  "Why are you avoiding us?"

As of this morning, private guardian April Parks can no longer avoid accountability over allegations of double dipping, misspent money and abuse of power.

Police served search warrants at Parks' home in Boulder City and also at her office on St. Rose Parkway near the 215.

The law enforcement activity spearheaded by the Attorney General's office comes about five months after Contact 13 first exposed allegations against Parks for exploiting her wards.

Rudy and Rennie North.

Mrs. Elizabeth Indig.

Phyllis Moscowitz-Crowe.

They're just a few of the more than 100 people who were made wards of the court with Parks as their guardian.

Now, police are looking at what Parks did with their money and assets.

Investigators from the Nevada Attorney General's office, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and Boulder City Police carted out boxes of documents from Parks' office and spoke to her at her home.

She spoke to us back in May to address concerns raised by wards and their families.

"When I get to that age and somebody tries to put me in a guardianship," Parks said, "I'm probably going to come out kicking and screaming too."

Ever since that interview, Parks has refused to talk.

"You can't hide forever," Spears called through Parks' door today.

The joint law enforcement investigation, which includes the Clark County District Attorney, is the first of its kind and, according to affected families, it's long overdue.

Law enforcement's focus on Parks began in June when Boulder City Police began investigating the disappearance of eight of Parks' wards.

She'd moved them without notice from Lakeview Terrace in Boulder City--leaving a trail of unpaid bills behind.

Contact 13 also caught Parks double dipping into the bank accounts of Rudy and Rennie North, which she spoke about in May.

Darcy Spears: As a responsible steward of their money, you're in charge of every dime these people have in this world.

April Parks: Yes Ma'am.

Darcy Spears: Is it acceptable to be consistently making those mistakes with someone else's money?

April Parks: No it's not.

Just last week, we told the story of Phyllis Moscowitz-Crowe who was left destitute and almost lost her home after Parks became her guardian.

"She's so evil and so vicious even the devil wouldn't have her in his zone," Moscowitz-Crowe said.
Elizabeth Indig's mother did lose her home after Parks let it slip into foreclosure.

It was sold for pennies on the dollar and then Parks sold most of Mrs. Indig's clothing and belongings.

"My mom is now sentenced to a life in a nursing home when we had a trust and we had made plans to keep her in her own home with all of her things until she died," Elizabeth said.

We've asked the court what will become of all the people April Parks has guardianship over--now that police have seized her files, paperwork and computer equipment.

We're still waiting on a response and we will stay on this story as it develops.

Full Article & Source:
Search warrants served as police investigate guardianship exploitation

Woman pleads guilty to financial exploitation

A Byron woman has pleaded guilty to financial exploitation after authorities say she spent the money of a vulnerable adult she'd worked for.

Jill Janette Sheely, 36, entered the plea Thursday in Olmsted County District Court, where she'd been charged with the felony in February. Sentencing has been set for Nov. 2.

The charge stems from an investigation that began in July 2014, when Olmsted County Adult Protection Services received information about the finances of a woman in a nursing home.

The victim's electronic benefits transfer card showed that while $324 in funds had accumulated, $392 in funds had been withdrawn from convenience stores in Rochester and Stewartville. An EBT card is a system that allows public assistance departments to issue benefits electronically; the user then swipes the card to make purchases at participating retailers to purchase food items.

The victim reportedly suspected Sheely, who was her former personal care assistant.

In addition, the woman's debit card was also used several times at a number of businesses and banks in Rochester and Stewartville, and in online transactions, the complaint says. Sheely was clearly the person seen on surveillance video at the bank locations where the debit card was used, the report says.

The cards were used from April through July 2014, while the victim was in a nursing home in Chatfield, the complaint says. She had neither her car nor the ability to shop at the purchase sites; a total of $1,251.73 was missing.

Sheely allegedly admitted to an investigator that she'd used the debit card for some purchases, and owed the entire amount. She also admitted using the EBT card, the complaint says.

Sheely has repaid $100, according to court documents.

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Woman pleads guilty to financial exploitation

Initiatives That Could Help Prevent Elder Fraud

At the July 2015 White House Conference on Aging, President Barack Obama announced plans to train more prosecutors to combat elder abuse, including financial exploitation. The program is to be backed by the Department of Justice. That initiative—and possibly the first known utterance of the phrase “elder abuse” by a U.S. president—were viewed by some as evidence that the exploitation of older Americans is finally becoming part of the public discourse. But a problem with so many dimensions needs to be addressed on multiple levels.  (Continue Reading)

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Initiatives That Could Help Prevent Elder Fraud

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

MS Supreme Court Launches Project to Reform Guardianship Conservatorship Laws

Professionals in the medical, mental health, legal and social services fields statewide are meeting at the Mississippi Supreme Court in Jackson. They're concerned about the state's guardianship and conservatorship laws for vulnerable adults and working to develop solutions. Ta'Shia Gordon, with the Court's Administrative Office, coordinated the effort. She says the process should be more user-friendly. The attorney had to help her family after Gordon's father had a stroke.

"Having to navigate the process of getting help and resources to him was a little difficult. So, I can't imagine for someone who doesn't have the education or the training," said Gordon.

Gordon explains a guardianship is used when someone is physically or mentally unable to take care of him or herself. A conservatorship allows someone to manage a person's financial affairs when he or she is unable to do so. Professor Desiree Hensley is here with her students from the University of Mississippi School of Law.  Hensley says a major concern is once a guardian is appointed, the adult loses all legal rights to make decisions.

"So I think one idea that the committee needs to look at is whether or not court should be required to consider whether there's some other means to help you, that allows you to continue to be a decision-maker on your own behalf to the extent that you're able," said Hensley.

Hensley says there's a lack of training and oversight for people appointed to these roles. Also no data are collected. Gordan says they'll begin by implementing short term goals.

"Hopefully we can launch a website to have some information on there for persons who are serving as guardians for family members or people in their community," said Gordon.

A $7,000 grant from the Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders is funding the sessions.

Full Article & Source:
MS Supreme Court Launches Project to Reform Guardianship Conservatorship Laws

BCI has an ongoing criminal investigation into ex-Mahoning County Probate Court Judge Mark Belinky

By David Skolnick

There is an ongoing criminal investigation into former Mahoning County Probate Court Judge Mark Belinky, who, according to a state investigator’s affidavit, admitted stealing money from people he was a guardian over and falsifying court records, among other crimes.

Four affidavits from Ed Carlini, an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation special agent, filed in September 2014, recently were unsealed in Youngstown Municipal Court with their details exclusively reported Thursday by The Vindicator.

“I can’t dispute what’s in the affidavit, but I can’t comment on it,” Dan Tierney, an attorney general spokesman, said Friday. “We stand by the information in the affidavit. The attorney general can’t comment on an ongoing investigation.”

In Carlini’s affidavits from 11 months ago he also wrote: “BCI is investigating Mark Belinky for crimes he committed from within the probate court, and in fact the auditor for the state of Ohio is currently conducting a special audit of the Mahoning County Probate Court to determine the breadth of Mark Belinky’s thievery.”

Brittany Halpin, a state auditor’s office spokeswoman, said Friday, “We do have a special audit [of the county probate court], and that audit is ongoing.”

In two of the affidavits, Carlini wrote that Belinky, a Boardman Democrat convicted July 9, 2014, of tampering with records, admitted to committing crimes “separate and apart” from that offense.

Belinky “admitted to stealing money from people that he was a guardian over and further has admitted to altering probate court documents to further such theft and has further admitted to using a Mahoning County probate computer to create false probate court records,” according to two of Carlini’s affidavits.

Belinky also used county employees, property and the county’s computer network for political purposes, Carlini wrote.

J. Gerald Ingram, Belinky’s attorney, declined to comment to The Vindicator about the investigation of his client.

Belinky resigned his judicial position May 8.

Dan Kasaris, a senior assistant attorney general, said during Belinky’s July 9, 2014, sentencing that the former judge was still being investigated, and the plea to the campaign-finance felony didn’t cover other potential crimes Belinky may have committed.

At that hearing, Kasaris said Belinky was being “very cooperative” with state investigative agencies and the FBI in “battling public corruption.”

Belinky was sentenced to 60 days of house arrest, 200 hours of community service and a $2,500 fine.

He admitted that during the 2008 campaign for his seat, Belinky falsified his financial records by not reporting debt and hiding the sources of loans.

The affidavits were used in September 2014 to obtain search warrants to seize computers, computer disks and software from then-county Auditor Michael V. Sciortino, a Democrat who is one of the three defendants in the Oakhill Renaissance Place criminal-corruption case.

It’s unclear why the information about Belinky was included in the affidavits.

Full Article & Source:
BCI has an ongoing criminal investigation into ex-Mahoning County Probate Court Judge Mark Belinky

Alzheimer’s Association leads panel discussion on the disease -- Conaway, Seliger discuss legislation that would provide Medicare coverage

U.S. Rep Mike Conaway speaks Monday 9-21-2015

By Erin Stone
 U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway and state Sen. Kel Seliger joined a panel of experts at The Village at Manor Park Monday evening to discuss the state of Alzheimer’s in the community. The town hall meeting consisted of a series of questions to each panel member from Janet Cross, program specialist for the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The panel was made up of Jay Hobbs, chief operating officer at Manor Park; Jim and Alethea Blischke, who shared their personal experiences with Alzheimer’s; registered nurse Cindy Mariner at Family Physicians; and Dr. Don McLarey, internal medicine and hospice and palliative care.

Below are some takeaways from the meeting:

 -- Conaway and Seliger discussed their willingness to support the Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act, which, if passed, would provide Medicare coverage for services including clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and care planning to provide newly diagnosed individuals and their caregivers information about medical and non-medical options for treatment and support. Conaway is a co-sponsor of the act.

-- Families dealing with Alzheimer's are faced with many challenges when it comes to guardianship across state lines. Forty-one states -- not including Texas -- have passed the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA).

Many people with Alzheimer's require the assistance of a guardian because of the debilitating nature of dementia. Adopting the guardianship act would help to remove uncertainty for individuals with dementia in crisis and help them reach appropriate resolutions faster, according to the association.

-- As many as half of the estimated 5.2 million Americans with Alzheimer’s have never received a formal diagnosis. Many doctors avoid telling patients the diagnosis due to a fear of giving bad news, McLarey said.

However, research shows that if a doctor withholds information initially, when a patient eventually is told, he or she is a less compliant patient, McLarey said.

-- The Blischkes emphasized the importance of early diagnosis rather than waiting for major symptoms to show, in order to give the patient the opportunity to prepare for the future. The couple has a history of Alzheimer’s in their families, and Jim Blischke has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.

“Once we got the diagnosis we could begin to realistically approach our futures as a couple, and as individuals,” his wife said. “Early diagnosis gives us the opportunity to act, not react.”

-- 1 in 9 people 65 and older in Texas have Alzheimer's, according to the association. The disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the state. Baby boomers are reaching the age where Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia begin to be exhibited.

With a larger aging population, the impact on long-term care will be significant, he said. It is estimated that by 2050, as many as 16 million Americans will have the disease.

Full Article & Source:
Alzheimer’s Association leads panel discussion on the disease -- Conaway, Seliger discuss legislation that would provide Medicare coverage

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why a man with intellectual disabilities has fewer rights than a convicted felon

Ryan King

Ryan King is 33. He has been working at a Safeway in Washington for 15 years. He pays his bills on time, budgets saving and spending money every month, uses exact change for his ride to and from work each day, makes a mean shrimp scampi, and has never been charged with a crime.

Yet, in the eyes of the courts, he has fewer rights than most convicted felons. Legally, Ryan cannot decide where to live, where to work, where to spend his free time, what medicine to take or with whom to talk.

Why? He has intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as sickle cell disease. And, as with many people like him, he is trapped in a legal guardianship that he’s longed to end for nearly a decade.

“I love being independent,” King explains. “Everyone needs a little help sometimes. I don’t know anyone who knows everything. But just because people need a little bit of help doesn’t mean they can’t be independent.”

What’s unique in King’s case is that his legal guardians — his parents — also want to terminate their court-ordered stewardship.

Not because they don’t want to continue living with him or because they don’t want to be responsible for him. And not because they don’t love him.

Susie and Herbert King, who are in their mid-60s, have a great relationship with Ryan. The three of them obsess about episodes of “Scandal,” they go on vacations together, and they split the cooking, shopping and cleaning in their immaculately decorated Northwest D.C. home.

But they also want to give him what all parents want for their children: independence, self-determination and control over his fate.

King has some cognitive limitations and some visual and spatial limitations. He needs a little help navigating a new place. But once he’s familiar, he’s got it, he and his parents said.

In 2007, after King had worked at the Georgia Avenue Safeway for seven years and had proved that he can make sound decisions and care for himself, his parents tried to have the guardianship removed.

Denied. The D.C. judge filled out an ordinary, mass-produced form. And that ended that bid for independence.

Now they are preparing to renew their efforts to end the guardianship. And they are hoping for a different outcome from the court.

“This is planning for the future,” King explains. “And some people don’t plan.”

If anything happened to his parents, King’s guardianship would revert to the courts, and he could be forced out of his house and into a group home, be forced to quit his job, be cut off from his friends and even have all his computer passwords to his favorite sites (such as eBay) blocked.

Sound ridiculous? It’s exactly what happened to Jenny Hatch, who was pitted against her mother and stepfather in a fight against guardianship that made national headlines a few years ago.

Jenny was living on her own in Newport News, Va., working, socializing, volunteering on political campaigns — having a robust life as a young woman with Down syndrome.

After she was struck by a car while riding her bike, a court yanked her independence, forced her to quit her job, ordered her into a group home and blocked all her computer passwords. If any of her friends wanted to see her, they had to fill out a permission slip.

She suddenly became a complete prisoner, all in the alleged name of safety.

“As far as the law was concerned, Jenny had ceased to exist. She was an ‘unperson’ who suffered a ‘civil death,’ ” said her attorney, Jonathan Martinis. “Her guardians, for all intents and purposes, became Jenny, making decisions for her, instead of her, whether she liked it or not.”

This is Ryan King’s nightmare.

After a groundbreaking legal battle, Martinis helped Jenny win back her freedom — and her life.

And he helped give power to the nationwide movement to replace these kinds of overbearing guardianships with something called supported decision-making — designed to make the person with cognitive challenges “the ultimate decision-maker” but still provide the support he or she needs to thrive, according to the National Guardianship Association. (Continue Reading)

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Why a man with intellectual disabilities has fewer rights than a convicted felon

Broward judge in PBC court, fighting for career

A Broward County judge, who was convicted of DUI last year by a Palm Beach County jury, is back in court this morning, fighting to make sure the conviction doesn’t destroy her judicial career.

Broward County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Imperato, right,  sits with attorney Heidi Perlet during jury selection Wednesday, December 17, 2014.   Imperato  is charged with DUI in Boca Raton.  (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Broward County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Imperato, right,

While Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Imperato agreed to pay a $5,000 fine, to be suspended without pay for 20 days and to be publicly reprimanded, the Florida Supreme Court said it wanted more information about the events that surrounded her November 2013 arrest in Boca Raton. It ordered the Judicial Qualifications Commission to conduct a full hearing and determine the appropriate punishment.

A six-member panel is hearing evidence at the Palm Beach County  Courthouse about whether the 58-year-old tried to use her position to avoid arrest when she was pulled over by Boca police on Palmetto Park Road after attending a networking event sponsored by justice associations in Palm Beach and Broward counties. The panel is also weighing her behavior, such as refusing a Breathalyzer, during the arrest. A decision won’t be made for at least two months.

Her attorney David Rothman argued that Imperato, a former prosecutor who has been on the bench since 2003, has been punished enough. She has been pilloried in the press, he said. Further, he said, she has accepted full responsibility for her actions. Ignoring her attorney’s advice, she pulled the plug on an appeal of her conviction and served her 20-day sentence on house arrest. She even apologized to the officers who arrested her, he said.

Attorney David McGee, who is representing the judicial watchdog group in the proceedings, argued that the DUI arrest wasn’t her first. She was arrested in Tallahassee, where she worked as a police officer, shortly before graduating from law school in 1988.

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Broward judge in PBC court, fighting for career

Man accused of exploiting elderly woman arrested

KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

COPPERAS COVE -Copperas Cove police have arrested a man they believe financially exploited a 77-year-old woman.

David Mitchell, the boyfriend of the elderly woman's cleaning lady has been arrested after police say the suspect made a total of eight unauthorized ATM withdrawals from the victim's account.

Mitchell who worked for the victim at the time claims he withdrew the money for the victim and gave her the money. However, the elderly woman told police she never received the money.

Mitchell was charged with exploitation of elderly or disabled persons.

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Man accused of exploiting elderly woman arrested

Monday, September 21, 2015

Steve Miller: "Guardian" April Parks Home and Office Raided by Police and Nevada AG

LAS VEGAS - In the first of what is expected to be a series of search warrants issued against suspected criminal for-profit private guardians, KTNV TV News tonight broke the new that Las Vegas Metro and Boulder City Police, along with officials from the office of the Nevada Attorney General, today enforced search warrants against private guardian April Parks, and are expected to serve similar warrants against other private guardians as the week progresses.

Contact 13 Investigates: Search Warrants Served as Police Investigate Guardianship Exploitation

American Screen Legend's Emotional Appeal To Congress To Stop 'Chronic Elder Abuse In America'

by  Martha T.S. Laham

In March 2011, the 90-year-old Mickey Rooney, a national treasure and an award-winning film legend best known for his work in such classic movies as A Family Affair (1937), Boys Town (1938), and National Velvet (1944), headed to Capitol Hill in Washington and appeared before the Senate Special Committee on Aging to address the elder abuse problem in the United States.

"I'm asking you to stop this elderly abuse. I mean to stop it. Now. Not tomorrow, not next month, but now," Rooney urged senators. He called for the passage of a law that makes elder abuse a specific crime, which will not be tolerated in America, according to a CNN report.

Rooney was no stranger to elder abuse. In February 2011, Rooney filed a lawsuit for breach of fiduciary duty, elder abuse, fraud, and other crimes against his stepson, Chris Aber, and others, ABC News reported. Rooney alleged that Aber, and his wife, failed to meet Rooney's basic needs (food and medicine), threatened and verbally abused him, stole his money for their own use, and took control of his finances, National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (NASGA) reported.

Chris Aber maintained that Rooney submitted legal filings and gave congressional testimony at the urging of Chris' estranged brother, Mark. Chris further claimed that "his brother and sister-in-law were stealing from his stepfather [Rooney], selling his possessions on eBay," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Let's take a close look at elder financial abuse that comes at the hands of family members and caregivers.

Behind Closed Doors

As Mickey Rooney's situation illustrates, a family household can be a dangerous place, as elder abuse frequently happens behind closed doors in a domestic setting while committed by someone closest to the elder. Unlike strangers who commit financial crimes, relatives and caregivers who perpetrate financial crimes against the elderly are involved in an ongoing trust relationship with the victim. Oftentimes the family perpetrator will misappropriate or misuse the elderly victim's money, property, or valuables for personal gain and to the disadvantage of the victim.

To get the elder to cooperate, the perpetrator will often coerce, intimidate, threaten, or even abuse the elder. Or the perpetrator may make empty promises of lifelong care to the elder. To ensure that no one comes to the elder's aid, the perpetrator will isolate the elder from family members, friends, and other concerned parties. The perpetrator may even convince the elder that no one else cares about him or her, except for the perpetrator.

The Roles of Mental Capacity, Consent, and Undue Influence

In the context of elder exploitation, it's important for us to determine if an older person understands or understood what he or she was doing when he or she engaged in a transaction, and whether she or he was coerced, tricked, or under undue influence by someone when the transaction took place, which brings us to the concepts of mental capacity, consent, and undue influence.

First, mental capacity refers to a person's functional skills used in his or her everyday life.

Determining when an elder lacks sufficient decision-making capacity is seldom black and white. For instance, an elder may not be able to make financial decisions, but he or she may still retain the capacity to make medical decisions for him- or herself. Also, diminished decision-making capacity can be sporadic and gradual. For example, elderly people with mild cognitive impairment have good days and bad ones.

Second, consent occurs when you "accept or agree" to someone's proposal, according to a report entitled "Financial Crimes Against the Elderly." You need to have sufficient mental capacity to comprehend the consequences and implications of your actions for consent to be legally binding.

Third, "undue influence refers to a person's free will being usurped by the will of another," according to an American Bar Association publication titled "Psychological Aspects of Undue Influence." State laws on undue influence vary, but most states require proof that the victim was subjugated or controlled by the perpetrator -- in other words, the victim's free will was dismantled by the perpetrator.  (Continue Reading)

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American Screen Legend's Emotional Appeal To Congress To Stop 'Chronic Elder Abuse In America'

Financial exploitation of seniors targeted by educational program

In an effort to prevent seniors from falling victim to scams and fraudulent schemes, the Carroll County State's Attorney's Office has launched an education program that is targeted at elder financial abuse.

"We're going to try to get across to seniors No. 1 the realization that everyone's at risk," Carroll County Chief Deputy State's Attorney Kathleen C. Murphy said. "There are misconceptions that seniors who are shut-ins are the primary target or seniors who may be cognitively compromised are the targets, and that is not really, in my experience, the case."

The office's Economic Crimes Unit has scheduled seminars at county senior centers to educate the community about financial scams targeting seniors. Five sessions have been scheduled in October and November, where information will be presented about common scams and red flags of financial elder abuse, Murphy said.

Murphy said seniors aren't necessarily targets of fraudulent schemes and scams specifically because of vulnerability.

"They're targeted because of their nest eggs; because of their income and assets," Murphy said. "So we definitely want to increase awareness that people who may not consider themselves as likely victims very well could be."

There are two distinct groups of perpetrators carrying out financial crimes against senior citizens: known predators, including family members and caregivers; and strangers who typically carry out financial scams, Murphy said.

Although financial scams are often carried out by strangers, the perpetrators of exploitation cases are often somebody known to the victim, such as family members or caregivers, Murphy said.  (Continue Reading)

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Financial exploitation of seniors targeted by educational program

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Guardianship program seeks volunteers

ASHTABULA — The Patrick Sorohan Volunteer Guardianship Program at Catholic Charities of Ashtabula County is in search of volunteers in the community to serve as Guardian of Person for the frail elderly living in a local health care facility. The elderly people in need have little or no financial resources, family, or other support system, and the Guardian of Person would fulfill the role of surrogate decision maker.

A volunteer guardian provides the opportunity to nurture, advocate for, and safeguard the well-being of another person in Ashtabula County, who otherwise would have no one in his or her life.

Orientation night is 5:30-7 p.m. Sept. 29 at Catholic Charities of Ashtabula County, 4200 Park Ave. (third floor of the First Merit Building). Light refreshments will be served.

To sign up or to find out more about this volunteer opportunity, contact Jeanne Myers at (440) 992-2121.

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Guardianship program seeks volunteers

FINRA approves proposal to protect seniors from financial exploitation

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Wall Street's industry-funded watchdog, said on Thursday its board of governors approved a proposal to protect seniors and other vulnerable adults from financial exploitation.

Firms will be allowed to put on hold disbursement of funds or securities and alert a customer's trusted contact when they suspect manipulation, according to the proposal.

The proposal would amend FINRA's customer account information rule so that the name and contact information for a trusted contact person is obtained upon opening an account.

The proposal would also apply to investors 18 and older if they have mental or physical impairments that render them unable to protect their own interests and there is a reasonable belief of financial exploitation, FINRA said.

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FINRA approves proposal to protect seniors from financial exploitation

Average “grandmother scam” victim loses $4,000

The average victim of a “grandmother scam” loses $4,000 to the scammers, Ohio's Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a warning to families. So far this year, DeWine's office has received nearly 40 complaints from victims in his state.

The so-called “grandmother” or “grandparent” scam is a form of impostor scam: scammers call their victims while pretending to be the victims' grandchildren, in dire trouble and in need of money to get out of it. It's a big-enough problem that in summer of 2014, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing in an attempt to find some solution to the problem. An 81-year-old Cincinnati resident named Roger W. (his full name was withheld for fear that additional con artists would seek him out) told the Senate committee his story, which is sadly typical: the previous December, Roger got a call from a scammer claiming to be his grandson.

Supposedly, the grandson had been arrested for speeding and drug possession, and needed bail money. Roger and his wife eventually bought and sent $7,000 worth of prepaid (and untraceable) money cards before finally speaking to their actual grandson on the phone and learning he was fine – no speeding tickets, no police encounters at all, and certainly no calling his grandparents to request thousands of dollars for bail.

“One of the reasons this scam works is that the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild is different than the relationship between a parent and a child,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Grandparents are more likely to send money, no questions asked. Scam artists understand this and they take advantage of it.”

Another thing that makes grandparents extra-likely to fall for this scam is that in today's age of social media, it's quite easy for the scammers to discover some genuine and specific details about the victim's family. A typical caller won't offer a generic greeting such as “Hi, Grandma, this is your grandson”; a grandparent scammer will do enough research to say “Hi, Grandma, this is Jeff. Yes, I'm doing well in my classes at Expensive State U. But I'm currently in a bit of trouble....”

DeWine suggested that, if you ever receive such a phone call, you should ask the caller questions which only an immediate family member would know (and has not shared on Twitter, Facebook, or other forms of social media).

You should also talk to your older relatives to warn them away from this scam, and also discuss ways you would communicate in the event of a true emergency. And always remember that real police fines, court costs, and other legal bills never require (or even accept) pre-paid money cards, wire transfers, or other untraceable methods of payment which the scammers demand.

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Average “grandmother scam” victim loses $4,000