Saturday, July 2, 2016

Florida Cracks Down on Troubled For-profit Facility for the Disabled

After years of tepid action, Florida officials are moving to intensify monitoring and remove residents from a sprawling complex for the disabled that has a long history of abuse and neglect.

The state is taking the unusual step of stationing an investigator at the Carlton Palms Educational Center and forming a special team to closely watch over staff and residents, documents obtained by ProPublica show. Residents will eventually be relocated to new homes.

Carlton Palms, on a remote stretch of lakefront northwest of Orlando, houses 202 people with severe developmental or intellectual disabilities and behavior issues – more than a quarter of the state’s residents in group homes for that reason.

ProPublica published an investigation last year into decades of harsh tactics and outright abuse at the facility and others owned by the for-profit company AdvoServ. Carlton Palms’ workers have relied for years on mechanical restraints, such as ankle shackles and a device similar to a full-body straight jacket, that most other providers abandoned long ago. Carlton Palms’ staff used restraints roughly 28,000 times in less than five years, records showed.

The changes at Carlton Palms are part of a new agreement between AdvoServ and Florida officials. Under the deal, Carlton Palms is also banned from accepting new residents – from Florida or anywhere else – unless the state agrees an emergency placement is necessary.

Since our investigation was published in December, the state Department of Children and Families has substantiated two more complaints of mistreatment there – one that resulted in an injury and another related to inadequate supervision of a resident, state records show. The records do not provide further details on the incidents.

Six additional complaints were made this month alone, including one reported the same day late last week that the state and AdvoServ signed the agreement to better monitor residents and, ultimately, remove them. Those are still under investigation.

“We understand that AdvoServ will remain in Florida,” APD spokeswoman Melanie Etters wrote in an email, adding that the company is planning to operate smaller homes instead of a big campus like Carlton Palms. The Florida facility is by far the company’s largest. Residents will have a chance to choose their new homes, Etters said.

The Carlton Palms facility has faced enormous criticism in recent years after a series of incidents involving abuse by staff and the death of a 14-year-old autistic girl from dehydration after a night in which she was at times strapped to a bed while vomiting repeatedly.

The state disability agency reached settlements with the company each time it filed formal legal complaints against the facility over abuse or neglect. ProPublica’s investigation detailed how AdvoServ has for years hired lobbyists and lawyers to fend off regulation and shape policy in the states where its homes are located. As of late last year, the company cared for roughly 700 people in Florida, New Jersey and Delaware and was expanding into Virginia.

Under the Florida agreement, the state Department of Children and Families investigator stationed at the campus will have access to all areas and video recordings. The state disability agency willform a team to step up monitoring of all restraints, plans for managing behavior issues, medical care, and staffing ratios. Within two months, the state will hire an independent group to take over the monitoring and develop transition plans for each client.

In addition, the agreement requires Carlton Palms administrators to make sure that video recordings are reviewed whenever there is a restraint, an injury to a resident or a complaint to the state abuse hotline. Carlton Palms is also expected to conduct random monitoring of all video to watch for abuse or neglect.

Full Article & Source:
Florida Cracks Down on Troubled For-profit Facility for the Disabled

Reports of elder financial abuse surge in Sacramento County

Reports of elder financial abuse jumped by 72 percent last year in Sacramento County as the public gained awareness of such crimes, more baby boomers entered retirement age and technology made it easier to perpetrate scams.

Financial abuse of the elderly can be inflicted by strangers who con their victims out of money but more often involves relatives and friends who take advantage of a victim’s trust, officials say. The elderly are seen as particularly vulnerable because of declining mental and physical fitness, they add.

Sacramento County is better prepared to handle the increase after reinstating a financial abuse unit within Adult Protective Services in January 2015. The county had eliminated the financial unit during the recession, but reinstated it because of concerns the county was unable to handle an increase in financial abuse claims.

Reports of such abuse had been rising for a while, and experts had pointed to demographic and technological trends as reasons the crimes would continue. A widely cited report by insurer Met Life called financial scams against the elderly “the crime of the 21st century.”

One contributing factor is the aging of the population, with the baby boom generation entering its senior years. About 170,000 people, or 12 percent of the population in Sacramento County, were 65 or older in 2014, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. That’s about 2 percent higher than 10 years earlier.

Another is technological, with scam artists from Canada and Jamaica using the internet to make phone calls that appear to have been made in Sacramento County, said Debbi Thomson, a manager for the county division that includes APS. The scam artists try to enlist the elderly into helping them collect bogus lottery winnings.

A third trend – higher public awareness – appears to have spiked last year at the same time reports went up, according to Thomas and Heidi Richardson, a program planner who previously worked for APS. In June 2015, the county paid for an eight-page advertising supplement in several publications, including The Sacramento Bee, explaining problems handled by Adult Protective Services.

The same month, APS received 403 reports, a record for one month, Richardson said.

Financial institutions have become more aware of scams against the elderly, in part because of a state law that requires them to report suspected abuse to county APS agencies, said Linda Sweet, adviser to First U.S. Credit Union and a member of Sacramento County’s Financial Abuse Specialist Team. The team consists of experts from various fields and helps APS and other agencies with investigative problems.

She said her credit union trains every employee to know the signs of fraud when dealing with elderly customers. She said the credit union once had an elderly customer who never used her credit card and all of a sudden had charges for $300 taxi rides. The rides turned out to be short trips made by someone other than the credit card holder.

“The scams have gotten more sophisticated,” said Sweet, who has served on the specialist team for approximately 15 years. “The elderly are often lonely, so they’re more likely to engage with people and become vulnerable.”

In a case prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office last year, contractor Patrick R. Murphy was found to have targeted at least 12 elderly victims in a scam that involved small repairs at their houses. “Once those jobs were completed, Murphy quickly added jobs which grew in cost far exceeding the value of the work done. In several instances, payments were repeatedly made for the same work,” the office said in a news release.

Murphy, who defrauded the victims in excess of $500,000, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

APS social workers lack law-enforcement powers, so they must submit cases of possible criminal activity to police. Cases in which victims lose money but criminal culpability is less clear sometimes are forwarded to one of the legal clinics at the McGeorge School of Law.

Melissa Brown, director of the clinics, said she has students authorized by the bar association to provide legal services under her supervision. They have filed several cases in Superior Court on behalf of elderly clients they say were defrauded of money, including one woman who lost everything – more than $100,000 – Brown said.

Such cases prove devastating for the victims. “Income security determines physical health. It’s hard to survive with no money,” she said. “When the finances are gone, it’s a big deal.”

Brown and Sweet say the county has benefited from reinstating the financial unit in Adult Protective Services. The financial cases often are complicated, and social workers develop expertise by specializing in those cases, they say.

The unit is made up of four social workers and one supervisor. Financial abuse is the most common type of report received by Adult Protective Services, which also handles complaints of sexual and physical abuse and other forms of mistreatment. When cases fall short of criminal activity, case workers can help by closing bank accounts, finding financial managers and other assistance, division director Thomas said.

Since the unit’s creation, reports of all types went up 29 percent. APS social workers will handle an average of 150 cases for the fiscal year ending June 30.

Full Article & Source:
Reports of elder financial abuse surge in Sacramento County

Lawmaker urges elder abuse predator list

People convicted of sexual predator crimes go on a national list so that others are aware of the potential danger they may pose.

A member of Congress has proposed a similar list for those convicted of running scams. Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL) says such a list is needed to help protect senior citizens from fraud and abuse.

“Florida has a reputation as the best place in America to retire,” Graham said. “Unfortunately, that reputation is under threat by an increase in elder abuse and fraud targeting seniors.”

Graham has introduced legislation to create a national registry of people who have been convicted of abusing or scamming seniors, to make them more easily identified.

Florida sees rise in activity

Using state of Florida data, Graham estimates that there were more than 2,500 cases of scams directed against seniors last year in her state alone. She says these crimes have risen by 74% over the last five years.

Under her proposal, the Justice Department would design a registry that states could use as a guide to develop their own lists of offenders. The lists would be public and searchable, identifying people found guilty of committing both physical and financial crimes against older people.

She notes that a few states already have such a registry. If the Justice Department created the model, she says, more states would provide the service.

Once all the states created lists, Graham said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could then compile all the information and make it accessible through a national database.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Lawmaker urges elder abuse predator list

Friday, July 1, 2016

Nevada AG wants nontaxpayer funds for fraud unit, help in guardianship program

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt wants the blessing of the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee to jump-start his new project to fight financial fraud.

With $1.3 million from the state’s National Mortgage Settlement fund, Laxalt wants to create an unit within the attorney general’s office and to boost the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada to take on more guardianship cases.

About $900,000 would go toward positions in Laxalt’s new unit: four criminal investigators, including one assigned to the joint terrorism task force, two supervisors, an analyst, a legal secretary and two prosecutors.

“Unfortunately, there’s a lot more predators out there taking advantage of everyday Nevadans,” Laxalt said. “The reality is we need more support.”
Laxalt told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the complaints his office has received about financial fraud have risen significantly in recent years, and it’s part of a national trend.

The state attorney general’s office received approximately 600 fraud-related complaints in fiscal year 2014, 952 in 2015, and 870 in the first three quarters of fiscal year 2016. The Federal Trade Commission received 18,539 Nevada complaints in 2013, 19,334 in 2014 and 20,016 in 2015.

Nationally, the FTC received 3.1 million consumer fraud complaints in 2015, a 19.4 percent increase from 2014.

Laxalt said he doesn’t anticipate serious obstacles to implementing the plan because the fact the unit won’t use general fund money — i.e., taxes — makes it a win-win.

And the plan also provides for a mechanism to help with cases of exploitation in adult guardianship, which Laxalt called a serious problem in Southern Nevada.

About $400,000 would go to the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada to pay for two lawyers, a paralegal and a legal assistant, all devoted to the issue.

The nonprofit center’s executive director, Barbara Buckley, said the problem is widespread. The center devoted an attorney to the issue in January, and that lawyer already has 45 cases.

There are about 60 new guardianship cases filed each month, and about 3,500 on file with the court.

Many of the high-priority cases the legal aid center takes on were referred by law enforcement because a senior citizen or other vulnerable person was being exploited by a guardian.
“We just don’t have the funding or attorneys to take them,” Buckley said. “If you don’t have criminal prosecution and civil representation, exploiters will continue to harm the most vulnerable among us.”

Full Article & Source:
Nevada AG wants nontaxpayer funds for fraud unit, help in guardianship program

Woman in adult abuse case gets probation, suspended sentence

A woman accused of misspending more than $23,000 as the caretaker of a 77-year-old Newton victim received probation and a suspended prison sentence on Monday.

Renee S. Goeldner, of Beaver Dam, Wis. pleaded guilty to first-degree theft and dependent adult abuse. According to police, the 48-year-old woman made unauthorized purchases for personal gain from the victim’s bank account between Jan. 13, 2014 and April 6, 2015.

District Court Judge Terry Rickers issued a suspended 15-year prison sentence and five years of probation. According to court documents, Goeldner owes more than $46,979 in restitution. Rickers ordered her to “promptly pay in full all restitution and all fees and costs associated with her probation.” She is also ordered to pay $1,750 in court fines, among other fees and surcharges.

Goeldner was initially charged in August 2015 with first-degree theft and dependent adult abuse-financial exploitation following an investigation by the Newton Police Department. Court records say police began investigating the former caretaker and conservator after being alerted to possible abuse.

Full Article & Source:
Woman in adult abuse case gets probation, suspended sentence

Congress Is Getting Serious About Preventing Elder Fraud

Fraudsters could soon face tougher consequences for elder financial abuse.

Older Americans lose as much as $37 billion each year to financial fraud, but new legislation in the congressional pipeline would impose tougher penalties for these crimes in an effort to combat the rising rate of exploitation.

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced in a hearing Wednesday that they are developing federal legislation that will introduce tougher penalties for scammers who target older consumers. The bill will also promote interagency coordination around elder abuse cases—including the improvement of investigation and prosecution—and enhancement of survivor assistance and data collection.

“We need to make sure that government at all levels is working to spread the word on financial exploitation, that individuals on the front lines receive proper training, and that those in the position to combat these crimes have the necessary tools and authority to do so,” Grassley said Wednesday. He added that he hopes to unveil the bill “soon.”

Fraud schemes targeting older Americans are estimated to rise, especially because the number of people over 65 is expected to more than double from 46 million now to 98 million by 2060, according to the 2016 Population Reference Bureau report. And while the total damage incurred through these schemes is in dispute, the emotional and financial turmoil of victims is very real. A 2015 report from True Link estimated seniors lose $36.5 billion each year to fraud and financial abuse. A similar 2015 report by the AARP found financial exploitation robs older Americans of $3 billion annually.

Older Americans may not be defrauded at higher rates than younger consumers, but certain types of scams are more likely to impact them, says Lois Greisman, who heads the Division of Marketing Practices for the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. The most common of these scams are around lotteries and prize promotions, as well as fraudsters posing as technical support to “fix” non-existent computer problems.

Early detection is the key to combat these schemes, Connecticut State Ombudsman Nancy Shaffer said in Wednesday’s hearing. “Giving law enforcement more tools, more preliminary kinds of assistance in how to identify it as it’s happening, is an important piece,” Shaffer said.

This is not the first time lawmakers have attempted to pass legislation that would address elder fraud.  Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act last June. It aims to set up an advisory office within the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission specifically to combat elder fraud. Another measure, the Senior$afe Act of 2015 introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) last October, would help financial professionals, including financial advisers, report elder financial fraud. But legislation tracking site estimates Klobuchar’s bill has a 44% chance of being enacted, while Collins’ bill rated only a 7% chance.

“All too often the quiet, invisible, heartbreak of financial elder abuse fails to make the headlines, but it happens every day and it’s a scourge that needs to fought and conquered,” Blumenthal said Wednesday.

Full Article & Source:
Congress Is Getting Serious About Preventing Elder Fraud

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Graham Pitches Registry To Track Elder Abuse

Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Graham is touting new legislation aimed at protecting seniors.  Graham is hoping to notch a legislative win before her term ends.

Monday at the Smith Williams Service Center, Graham played a word game with a roomful of seniors.  It’s part of a work day she put together focusing on services for the elderly.  After a morning spent packaging and delivering meals for housebound seniors Graham described her newest proposal: a national registry for people convicted of elder abuse

“It breaks my heart, but it’s more prevalent than any of us would like,” Graham says, “so this would be very helpful for seniors across our country to make sure that they’re interacting with those that only have their best interest at heart.”

But Graham will have to move quickly as her time in Washington D.C. is winding down.  She chose not to run for reelection after her district went from a toss-up to heavily Republican in last year’s redistricting case.

Full Article & Source:
Graham Pitches Registry To Track Elder Abuse

Legal Guardianship's Meant to Help the Elderly – But Some Texans Are Abusing the System

Originally published on June 27, 2016 2:18 pm

As the population of Texas grows, so changes the demographics. According to the most recent data from the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, the state's population of those age 60 and older is expected to triple by 2050.

Many of those people will require assistance to help manage their estates, with their legal and financial rights being handed to guardians. But while Texas' rate of guardianship control increases – there are allegations that the state's lack of oversight can make the system open to abuse, fraud, and misconduct.

Reporter Patrick Michels, who writes about guardianship in the July issue of the Texas Observer, says about 53,000 people are under a guardianship in Texas – as a sort of "last resort" if no family member steps forward to help someone take charge of their finances or make decisions, the court can appoint someone to do so for them.

"Sometimes that's going against the person's own wishes, but if the person is making bad decisions in the eyes of a judge," he says, "then they can appoint someone else to do that. In rare cases, it can be a private, professional guardian – whose somebody appointed by the court who does these professionally."

In the story, Michels says he chose to focus on Lubbock County because it has the highest rate of guardianship in the state and there were some high-profile, "notorious" abuse cases. He says he wanted to see what had happened after those abuse cases were resolved.

"After a period of brief activity to get a handle on their problem, they're kind of back to where they were before," he says. "In a lot of ways, it sheds a light on a problem the whole state has."

That is, Michels says, that if a judge doesn't want to award a guardianship to a family member, they have few options for professional guardians. Back in 2009, Lubbock County had, he says, basically one.

"He would charge an hourly rate, which would end up being pretty high," he says, "He could get a cut of the money when he sold off someone's house, sold off their stocks. Under the law, all that stuff is possible. But he was doing it without getting explicit permission from a judge."

Once the state got rid of him as a professional guardian, Michels says, they didn't have many alternatives.

"Almost all of those guardianships went to somebody who had just started up operating in that area," Michels says, "which was his wife."

Michels says the state has taken an interest in the past few years to provide oversight, with the state Office of Court Administration spearheading a "small-scale audit" of about 10 counties. "They're just looking through the guardianship files... to get a handle on what's going on because in so many counties the judges don't have time to go over these files. They're just sort of being created and forgotten about."

The state plans to look through files in those counties by the end of the year, Michels says, to get a sense of how to handle any problems with guardianships before problems escalate.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Dementia’ Was Lyme Disease

 After long suspecting Alzheimer's, doctors did a test

For years, songwriter and actor Kris Kristofferson was told he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or some other type of dementia. His memory was getting progressively worse.

But Kristofferson, 79, has revealed that he was misdiagnosed — he actually has Lyme disease, according to a June 6 story in Rolling Stone. A positive test result confirmed the hunch earlier this year, the magazine said.

“He was taking all these medications for things he doesn’t have, and they all have side effects,” his wife, Lisa, told Rolling Stone. After three weeks of Lyme treatment, there are still some down days, but on other days he seems normal, she said. “All of a sudden he was back.”

Lasting Effects Possible

Lyme disease is caused by an infected blacklegged tick, also known as a deer tick. If left untreated, it can eventually cause a host of debilitating symptoms, including severe headaches, one or more rashes, stiff neck, severe joint pain and swelling, heart palpitations, facial paralysis, dizziness, nerve pain and memory loss, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Many of these patients say that medical officials pay little attention to their persisting symptoms.
— Michael Specter, The New Yorker

Other cognitive problems that can occur after months or even years include, according to the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center of Columbia University Medical Center:
  • problems remembering names or words
  • slowed thinking
  • “brain fog”
  • difficulty following conversations.
“My brain is so destroyed. To me it’s amazing I can still get up and go to the show,” Kristofferson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last fall. “But I can remember all the songs.”

The tiny arachnids are found in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, north-central and Pacific Coast areas of the United States, the CDC says.

The disease may reveal itself within 30 days in a characteristic “bull’s-eye” rash, but some people never get a rash. And since most bites come from the immature form of the tick, which is about the size of a poppy seed, the incursion can easily go unnoticed.

About 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, according to the CDC, and the government has recognized it as a “major health threat.”

Ongoing Controversy

The medical establishment has been at odds for years, however, with critics who believe that Lyme is vastly under-diagnosed and under-treated. There is fierce disagreement about how reliable testing methods are and even what to call a lasting illness.

“The term ‘chronic Lyme disease’ (CLD) has been used to describe people with different illnesses,” the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says on its website. “While the term is sometimes used to describe illness in patients with Lyme disease, in many occasions it has been used to describe symptoms in people who have no evidence of a current or past infection with [the Lyme bacterium].

“Because of the confusion in how the term CLD is employed, experts in this field do not support its use,” the agency says.

That angers those who say conventional doctors ignored their complaints.

“Many of these patients say that medical officials pay little attention to their persisting symptoms, and that Lyme disease is anything but easy to treat or to cure,” wrote Michael Specter in a 2013 article in The New Yorker magazine.

Complicating the matter is the fact that the same ticks that carry Lyme disease may pass along other harmful bacteria, as well. (Cases of babesiosis, for example, have been found in people also infected with Lyme.)

Early Signs and Symptoms

These are usually seen between three and 30 days after a tick bite, the CDC says:
  • Fever and chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash known as erythema migrans (EM) 

Later Signs and Symptoms

These may be experienced weeks or months after the bite, the CDC says:
  • Severe headaches
  • Neck stiffness
  • Additional rashes on other parts of the body
  • Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, often in the knees
  • Facial or Bell’s palsy
  • Muscle and joint pain that comes and goes
  • Heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat (Lyme carditis)
  • Dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Nerve pain
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Problems with short-term memory

Prevention Is Key

To keep from getting infected by ticks, take the following precautions: Avoid wooded areas with a lot of brush, high grass and leaf litter; stick to the center of trails; use bug repellent with DEET (20 to 30 percent) on exposed skin and clothes; use repellants with 0.5 percent permethrin on clothing (some clothing comes pre-treated).

Remember that pets can bring ticks inside, so make sure they are protected, too. Ask your veterinarian for advice. And carefully inspect yourself for ticks after hiking, camping or being in the backyard if it’s close to a wooded area.

Full Article & Source:
Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Dementia’ Was Lyme Disease

Medical errors are killing hundreds of thousands each year

Sometime in the last few years, a young woman who had undergone a successful transplant operation was readmitted to the hospital for some follow-up tests, including a procedure to draw fluid from the sac surrounding her heart.

The woman was discharged from the hospital but returned the following day complaining of severe abdominal pain. She died from a combination of intra-abdominal bleeding and cardiac arrest. An autopsy revealed that the needle that had been inserted into the heart sac had grazed her liver and ruptured an artery, resulting in death.

The death certificate listed the cause of death as cardiovascular, but in fact it was due to physician's error.

The tragic mishap was cited in a new study by two Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers examining the medical errors that have been grossly underreported for years. They estimate that medical errors are responsible for 251,454 deaths annually.

According to the study, published Tuesday by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), deaths due to gross medical error rank third nationally behind heart disease (614,348 deaths a year) and cancer (591,699 deaths a year). In all, medical errors are responsible for roughly 9.5 percent of all deaths annually, according to the new report.

"While many errors are non-consequential, an error can end the life of someone with a long life expectancy or accelerate an imminent death," wrote the co-authors, Martin A. Makary, a professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins, and research fellow Michael Daniel.

It is commonly known that hospital stays and medical procedures are fraught with risk — from patients developing infections and getting the wrong medications to surgeons making a mistake by removing the wrong body part. Moreover, a recent study warned of substantial medical risks involved in simply moving a patient from the hospital back home or to nursing facilities.

Yet the medical profession has done little to shed a light on the problem of medical error, according to the new study, and greater scrutiny is required.

The report's 251,454 figure for deaths caused by medical error is much higher than the estimates in a 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). That report pegged deaths related to medical error at roughly 98,000. As The Washington Post notes, that 17-year-old study shocked the medical establishment and triggered internal debate over how to address the "epidemic" of cases.

However, that study was inadequate, according to Makary and Daniel, because it was not backed up by primary research, such as a detailed examination of hospital medical records or even death certificates. Instead, the IOM relied on estimates in a 1984 Harvard Medical Practices Study and 1992 research in Utah and Colorado.

Makary and Daniel mounted a far more comprehensive review of more recent scholarship on the topic, including studies by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General's review of hospital health records in 2008, and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality studies between 2000 and 2008.

"We calculated a mean rate of death from medical error of 251, 454 a year using the studies reported since the 1999 IOM report and extrapolating to the total number of U.S. hospital admissions in 2013," the authors wrote.

While the assumptions they made in extrapolating study data to the overall U.S. population may have distorted their figures, the authors wrote, "the absence of national data highlights the need for systematic measurement of the problem."

Full Article & Source:
Medical errors are killing hundreds of thousands each year

Ready, set, grow old

IN 15 years, our world will look a lot grey-er. The proportion of people aged over 60 is growing faster than any age group – a direct result of success in medicine, nutrition and family planning, to name a few. We have been successful in adding years to our lives, but adding life to those extra years is another story. Are we prepared for an ageing society? Are we able to address the needs of the elderly?

The answer, woefully, is that we are not. The good news is that we still have time; demographic studies show that Malaysia will have an ageing population only in 2030, when 15% of our people will be aged 60 and above. By 2050, a quarter of our population will be above 60 years old.

Technically speaking, we have 14 years to step up and get our act together.

Malaysia has a national policy for the elderly which has noble objectives; to enhance the respect and self-worth of the elderly, develop their potential so they remain active and productive, to ensure their protection and independence and continuing education.

Some of these objectives have been fleshed out in programmes run mostly by the ministries of Health and Women, Family and Community Development.

For example, the Welfare Depart­ment has daycare facilities or activity centres (Pusat Aktiviti Warga Emas or Pawe) where the elderly get to network with their peers and participate in leisure activities organised for them.

But there are at present only 45 Pawes in the country to cater for the 2.66 million senior citizens in the country. We need to do more.

The welfare services also offer protection and counselling services and aid for the elderly but their main focus is on the poor and destitute, the most vulnerable segment of our population.

Government welfare homes, for example, prioritise older people who have no family, but what about those who are neglected by their family? We need to provide services for all segments of society.
We need laws that protect the elderly and safeguard their rights. For example, we need specific laws that safeguard them against abuse.

At the moment, elder abuse comes under the protection of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA).
However, the dynamics of elder abuse are different from spousal abuse.

Although policy and legislation are important, population ageing has to be addressed by both the government and the public.

We need to take charge of our lives. We need to prepare for ageing. We need to look after ourselves while we are young so that we will be able and independent when we are older.

We need to build our networks from now so that when we are older, we can have our support system.

We need to save for our old age. Financial independence gives us options to live a more fulfilled life in our twilight years.

As caregivers, we need to be aware of our limits and get help when necessary. Employ a maid or a nurse, full-time or part-time.

And, we need to change the way we define old age. With age, people develop multiple chronic diseases and become slower. Some people will become more frail and experience dementia or have poor mobility.

Growing old isn’t a miserable process; it’s a natural process. Just because someone retires, it doesn’t make them incapable of participating in society.

Full Article & Source:
Ready, set, grow old

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Two caretakers arrested for neglect after elderly woman dies

Two women were arrested Friday for allegedly leaving a 66-year-old woman in their care to die inside a home infested with roaches, according to Gulfport Police.
  • 2 caretakers charged with neglect
  • 66-year-old woman found dead inside home
  • Woman was living in "uninhabitable" conditions; house infested with roaches
Jennifer Poulos, 41, and Debra Poulos, 61, were both charged with neglect.

According to police, the 66-year-old woman was found dead inside an “uninhabitable” house located in the 5300 block of 29th Avenue South at about 8:31 p.m.

Police said the house was extremely cluttered and infested with roaches.

A neighbor, April McMahon, said she had not noticed any signs of possible neglect.

"The two or three times that I saw her out, the lady had her in a wheelchair, but it was almost like her legs were up and her neck was back," said McMahon. "You never seen her move an inch, not even her eyeballs."

Investigators say the two women were caretakers for the unidentified woman for the past eight months.  The caretakers left the woman alone and moved out of the house about 10 days before the police found the woman’s body.

Both women “intentionally failed to provide adequate care for the victim,” according to the report.

The victim has not been identified as police are trying to notify next-of-kin.

McMahon expressed shock at the entire incident.

"We live three apartments down, and I was like, 'how did we not know the body has been there?'"

The owner of the property did tour the apartment Saturday afternoon and reported that it was a total loss.

Jennifer Poulos’ four-year-old son was removed from her custody after police discovered that the child had been residing in the uninhabitable conditions for the past eight months.

Full Article & Source:
Two caretakers arrested for neglect after elderly woman dies

La Salle woman sentenced for exploiting senior citizen

A La Salle woman has to pay restitution for taking financial advantage of an elderly lady.

Dawn N. Ingold, 47, pleaded guilty to financial exploitation of an elderly person. She was sentenced to pay $17,146 restitution and $600 in court costs, as well as to serve 30 months of conditional discharge. Peru police said Ingold used deception to exploit the woman, with whom she had a legal relationship, to steal more than $10,000 last summer.

Ingold was arrested Feb. 18, posting bond two days later.

Full Article & Source:
La Salle woman sentenced for exploiting senior citizen

“The Right Care at the Right Time: Ensuring Person-Centered Care for Individuals with Serious Illness.”

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“The Right Care at the Right Time: Ensuring Person-Centered Care for Individuals with Serious Illness.”

Monday, June 27, 2016

Tate's Royalties Paid to Court

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Royalties totaling more than $13,000 earned by singer songwriter Danny Tate have been sent to a Nashville court under a garnishment order obtained by his one time lawyer.

BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc), sent two checks, one for $13,078.09 and the other for $119.99, last week to the clerk of the Davidson Circuit Court under the terms of a garnishment order issued in favor of Nashville attorney Michael Hoskins.

Hoskins represented Tate in his efforts to get out of a court ordered conservatorship and the attorney is now collecting the the balance of the fees he charged for the effort.

Hoskins has declined to comment on the issue.

Tate said the second smaller check was actually earned by a company he set up for his publishing royalties and should not have been subject to the garnishment order. He said overall his royalties "have dwindled to a fraction of what they used to be."

He said it appears that the payments made to the court cover three quarters of a year beginning in 2015.

Tate has been earning royalties on such songs as "Affair of the Heart," "Born with a Broken Heart" and "Dark Side of Love."

The garnishment order had been put on hold after Tate filed for bankruptcy in federal court in Kentucky. That case, however, was dismissed on Hoskins' motion, thus releasing the automatic hold on the garnishment order.

Hoskins already collected part of this fee when he purchased Tate's former Belle Meade home at a court ordered auction for $120,000. The proceeds were split between Hoskins and another attorney who had worked on Tate's case.

Tate has disputed Hoskins billings, but the courts have upheld Hoskins position.

Tate's former 3 bedroom home at 5909 Old Harding Pike in Nashville is now on sale for $589,900, down from the original $649,000 asking price.


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Tate's Royalties Paid to Court

See Also:
Danny Tate

Danny Tate's Home Auctioned Off --- to his Former Lawyer!


Prince estate case to be held behind closed doors as media denied access

The Minnesota judge overseeing Prince’s estate case won’t allow attorneys for several media companies to intervene in an upcoming hearing.

In a letter made public on Saturday, Carver County district judge Kevin Eide denied the media’s request to be heard at a probate hearing on Monday, but left open the possibility of scheduling a hearing on the issue of access at a later date.

The media groups asked to intervene to ensure the press and public would have access to estate proceedings and records, and to ensure the hearing remains open in its entirety.

The hearing in Chaska, a Minneapolis suburb, will cover procedures for determining who stands to inherit part of Prince’s estate. Prince died on 21 April of an accidental overdose of the drug fentanyl, and no will has been found.

His estate could be worth up to $300 million, and several people have come forward claiming to be heirs.

DNA tests have already determined that a Colorado inmate is not Prince’s son, as he had claimed, according to a person who saw a sealed document and spoke to on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to release the information.

With no known children, Prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson, and at least five half-siblings could share in the estate.

In a previous order, Eide barred cameras, audio recordings and sketch artists from the hearing and said he might close portions of it if he has to address paternity questions about specific people. Since then, several documents have been filed under seal.

Attorney Leita Walker, who is representing the media companies, said in court documents that closing the courtroom would violate the First Amendment and common law rights of access to court proceedings.

“There is simply no compelling reason here to depart from the presumption that this probate proceeding is open to the press and public,” Walker wrote.

Eide said in his letter that he recognized Walker’s concerns and has been working to “unravel the knotty issues” involving the public’s right to access and confidentiality rules.

The judge also said the court was reviewing legal requirements about the release of documents and, if appropriate, some may be unsealed.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has purchased the Yellow Cloud electric guitar that Prince used in numerous concerts until the mid-1990s.

The NFL football team owner and collector of musical instruments paid $137,500 for the guitar at an auction in Beverly Hills on Saturday.

Heritage Auctions, which conducted the auction, says the solid body guitar was a favorite of the late musician from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.

Irsay also has instruments once owned by musicians Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead, John Lennon and Ringo Star of The Beatles and singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.

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Prince estate case to be held behind closed doors as media denied access

Financial abuse of seniors big, and getting bigger

After two and a half decades working in public and private litigation across Oregon, attorney Shawn O’Neil decided to take up work closer to his home in Wilsonville. He opened his own firm in the city several years ago, and solicited for a range of services, from business law to personal injury and governmental affairs.

But he was surprised to discover a need in the community for a practitioner willing to take on another sort of issue: the financial exploitation of seniors.

“Since opening a law firm here in Wilsonville a couple years ago, I’ve seen about a third of my practice involve elder financial abuse cases,” O’Neil said at a talk he gave in Charbonneau last month on elder financial abuse. “I was not prepared to see the amount of people out there that are being taken advantage of by swindlers, family members and even professionals.”

There a number of reasons that older adults are often targeted, O’Neil said. People over age 50 control 70 percent of the country’s wealth. He also noted that seniors often don’t realize the value of their assets, and are less likely to take actions against abusers.

Especially troubling is that many of the abuse cases O’Neil sees are committed not by professional con artists, but by the family members of victims.

“They stand to inherit, and feel justified in taking what is almost — or ‘rightfully’ — theirs,” O’Neil said.

A statewide problem

That sort of thinking is common in financial abuse cases occurring statewide, according to Billie McNeely, financial exploitation case specialist for Oregon’s Department of Human Services/Oregon Health Authority shared services.

“Oftentimes it doesn’t start out with ill intentions,” McNeely said. “There’s a sense of entitlement: They think, ‘This is my inheritance,’ or ‘This is going to come to me anyway.’”

McNeely notes a statewide increase in the incidence of elder financial abuse cases. Between 2013 and 2014 there was an 11.5 percent increase in the number of cases her office saw, from around 3,400 cases to nearly 3,800 (data from 2015 has yet to be compiled).

That number is likely low, McNeely said. She said one national estimate found that for every 44 cases of elder financial exploitation, only one was reported.

The average amount stolen in Oregon cases is around $25,000, McNeely said. At the same time, the state sometimes sees cases where as little as $100 is stolen.

“But for someone who’s on Social Security, that can have a big impact,” McNeely said.

McNeely said that financial abuse is likely to continue to grow as the Baby Boomer generation ages.

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis predicts the number of seniors in the state to increase by 175 percent between 2012 and 2030.

Banks are the most common reporters of financial abuse, and might notify DHS if they see an elderly person attempting to wire transfer a large sum of money. That might happen when a victim is targeted by professional scammers, which McNeely said happens in only around 3 percent of cases known to the state, as of a 2013 study.

“The banks have really stepped up and done their part to train their tellers to recognize financial exploitation, and to report it,” McNeely said.  (Continue Reading)

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Financial abuse of seniors big, and getting bigger

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Officials make multiple raids across Texas hospice facilities

In the meantime, bewildered employees walked in and out of the building without saying much.

"Well, obviously there is an investigation of something, but I have no idea what it's about," said one woman wearing a Heart to Heart ID badge and shirt with a similar logo.

The Department of Justice would only confirm there is law enforcement activity focused on the company, but says all other information is under seal.

Eyewitness News has confirmed that similar raids took place in several other Heart to Heart Hospice locations, including Fort Worth, Carollton and the company's Plano headquarters.

A number of agents also spent hours in the company's south Houston location.

On its website, Heart to Heart boasts 17 locations in Texas, and presence in Indiana and Michigan.

People who work near in the nearby offices said the company mostly sends hospice nurses to patients' homes to provide care.

It's unclear just how widespread the investigation may be. Offices in Michigan contacted by Eyewitness News appear to be operating under normal circumstances.

The Texas Department on Aging confirms in all the Texas Heart to Heart facilities are licensed. According to records, there have been some state violations over the past five years. However, they appear unrelated to today's federal raids.

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Officials make multiple raids across Texas hospice facilities

Elder orphans: Childless, unmarried baby boomers warned to prepare for future

A new study is raising awareness about the problem of "elder orphans" -- seniors who have no children, spouse or any other family member to care for them as they age.

The research comes on the heels of an incident earlier this week in North Carolina in which an 81-year-old cancer patient with no caregiver called 911 to ask someone to buy him some food.

Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, the chief of geriatric and palliative medicine at North Shore-LIJ Health System, recently completed a case study and literature review that she will be presenting to The American Geriatrics Society's Annual Scientific Meeting this weekend.

She says that the problem of elder orphans is growing.

"It seems that, with increasing longevity and the trend toward having fewer children and families being fragmented, that this risk of aging alone is increasing," she told CTV's Canada AM from New York.

In Canada and the U.S., the number of seniors is expected to grow dramatically over the next 10 to 15 years. Statistics Canada says the proportion of seniors in Canada could rise from 15 per cent in 2011 to 23 per cent by 2031.

Carney's study found that nearly one-quarter of Americans over 65 are currently at risk of becoming elder orphans. That proportion could grow. U.S. census data show that one-third of Americans currently between the ages of 45 to 63 are single -- a 50 per cent increase from 1980.

Although the number of elder orphans is likely rising, very little research has been done on these seniors and the issues they're facing.

"The first challenge is one of awareness that this is a vulnerable population," Carney said.

As well, there is little research on how these seniors will affect society and the medical system in the years to come. Hospital social workers and geriatricians already see elder orphans in their work every week, but there are few guidelines about how to help them long term.

"It's a societal problem we all have to address and we are hoping to draw attention to it," she said.

Not only do aging seniors living alone struggle with isolation and loneliness, they often grapple with growing health problems, says Carney. Some also struggle with dementia and have no one who can help them make decisions about their own care.

Elder orphans are also hard on the medical system, says Carney, since they are often in crisis and need to seek help from costly hospital emergency rooms. The better approach, she says, would be to have care plans in place for these seniors so they don't end up in crisis in the first place.

For single adults who are in now their 50's and 60's, Carney has this advice: start making plans.

"Think about advanced directives," she advises. "Who will be that decision-maker for you if you are unable to make decisions? Get a health care proxy; find an advocate, create a strategy for yourself."

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Elder orphans: Childless, unmarried baby boomers warned to prepare for future

What You Should Know about Abuse in a Memory Care Unit

To begin with, let us address what exactly constitutes a memory care unit. A memory care unit is a facility where residents are assisted and cared for. They predominantly help in assisted living for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.

According to national estimates, as many as 5 million people are currently suffering from such memory disabilities and cognitive impairments. Sadly, when the condition of the patient starts to further deteriorate, families are forced to move them into memory care units and other medical facilities because they simply not have the knowledge or resources available to care for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Now you may not understand this disease but if you saw the movie Memento with Guy Pearce playing a character named Leonard you could have a better idea. Now Memento was extreme since most people have family to take care of them and to put them in a place like this. In this movie, Leonard had tattoos all over his body to help him remind him of vital things. This story was fictional, but to try to live without a memory or knowing who you are is all but impossible.

It is hard to protect someone who does not have a memory.

Abuse in a Memory Care Unit

Symptoms include forgetting to consume medication, forgetting to set reminders, turning on an appliance and then forgetting to put it back off, failing to do daily chores without assistance, forgetting their own name, contact number or other personal information and also getting lost and not being able to find the way home.

Unfortunately, a memory care unit, while being a salient option for most people is still not flawless. Like with any other field of medical care, here too, negligence and abuse is a real problem. The whole point of the such units is so the staff can remind residents about things like taking medication, and ensuring that they are cared for in the right manner and kept away from any harm.

Full Article & Source:
What You should Know about Abuse in a Memory Care Unit

What You Should Know about Abuse in a Memory Care Unit

To begin with, let us address what exactly constitutes a memory care unit. A memory care unit is a facility where residents are assisted and cared for. They predominantly help in assisted living for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.

According to national estimates, as many as 5 million people are currently suffering from such memory disabilities and cognitive impairments. Sadly, when the condition of the patient starts to further deteriorate, families are forced to move them into memory care units and other medical facilities because they simply not have the knowledge or resources available to care for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Now you may not understand this disease but if you saw the movie Memento with Guy Pearce playing a character named Leonard you could have a better idea. Now Memento was extreme since most people have family to take care of them and to put them in a place like this. In this movie, Leonard had tattoos all over his body to help him remind him of vital things. This story was fictional, but to try to live without a memory or knowing who you are is all but impossible.

It is hard to protect someone who does not have a memory.

Abuse in a Memory Care Unit

Symptoms include forgetting to consume medication, forgetting to set reminders, turning on an appliance and then forgetting to put it back off, failing to do daily chores without assistance, forgetting their own name, contact number or other personal information and also getting lost and not being able to find the way home.

Unfortunately, a memory care unit, while being a salient option for most people is still not flawless. Like with any other field of medical care, here too, negligence and abuse is a real problem. The whole point of the such units is so the staff can remind residents about things like taking medication, and ensuring that they are cared for in the right manner and kept away from any harm.

Full Article & Source:
What You should Know about Abuse in a Memory Care Unit