Saturday, July 16, 2016

Woman on the Move: Deirdre Gilbert

National Director at National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association

Deirdre created the first national organization that focuses on issues as it relates to those affected by medical errors. She has been instrumental in receiving the first Presidential Message recognizing her efforts.

Senator Kirk Calls On VA Inspector General To Open Investigations Into Mental Health Treatment in Illinois VA Hospitals

Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission Finds Forced Administration Of Medication To Combat Mental Health Illness
WASHINGTON –(ENEWSPF)–July 8, 2016.  U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Inspector General Michael Missal on recent investigations into VA hospitals in Illinois. The Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission found that rights violations were committed against Illinois veterans with disabilities at the Edward Hines Jr. and Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Hospitals. Senator Kirk called on Inspector General Missal to address and investigate reports of forced administration of medication without direct correlation to a veteran’s mental health needs and the issuance of criminal citations for a veteran exhibiting mental health related behavioral symptoms.

“Our veterans, especially those seeking treatment for mental health issues, deserve the best health care available and must be treated with dignity,” said Senator Kirk. “Addressing disturbing reports of violations at VA facilities should remain a top priority for IG Missal and receive immediate attention. Mistreatment of veterans at the VA is unacceptable.”

The full text of the letter is below:
July 8, 2016

The Honorable Michael Missal
Inspector General
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.  20420

Dear Mr. Missal,

Please find enclosed the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission’s recent investigations into ongoing rights violations committed against Illinois veterans with disabilities at the Edward Hines Jr. and Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Hospitals.

The Commission is particularly concerned with the forced administration of psychotropic medication, sometimes with VA police presence, without adequate cause to a veteran’s mental health needs and the issuance of criminal citations for a veteran exhibiting mental health related behavioral symptoms.  As the Commission explains it, the VA Hospitals use the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (405 ILCS 5/2-107) to involuntarily commit veterans, however, they fail to uphold the same Code’s rights protections for these veterans.

The Guardianship and Advocacy Commission was created to protect the rights and promote the welfare of Illinois disabled citizens.  I am confident you share my concerns over the violations the Commission has investigated and ask that you open an investigation.   Specifically, please focus on the following questions:

1. The report details a complaint where VA police were present during the administration of medication “to hold the patient (sic) down if he refused.”  What is the VA policy regarding the involvement of VA police officers in the administration of treatments with patients?

2. As a federal agency, what is the standard for VA facilities to follow state laws that govern how patients in mental health units must be treated and how medications are administered?  This report suggests that violations of Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (405 ILCS 5/2-107) occurred when staff administered forced psychiatric medication to veterans.  Were the rights of the Illinois veterans mentioned in this report violated while in the care of the VA hospitals?  What Illinois and federal laws, as well as VA policies, were overstepped or disobeyed by the VA health care professionals or the VA police officers during the incidents described in the report?

3. This report indicates that staff in the Behavioral Health Unit at Hines VA Hospital “have stated that forced medications are given on an emergency basis at the first sign of agitation.”  The report states that upon investigation in Authority case #14-030-9023, the veteran did not meet the standard for dangerousness before forced medication was administered.  What is the VA policy for administrating emergency medication without veteran consent?  What assessments are employed to determine if/when a veteran is exhibiting dangerous or self-harming behavior requiring emergency medical intervention?  Is there a VA standard for such assessments? What training is VA staff provided to identify these behaviors?

4. This report includes testimony from a VA physician who states “I wouldn’t use emergency medications at all.  But these are trained killers.”   Is this standard VA policy when interacting with veterans with mental illness?

5. This report states that upon investigation in Authority case #15-030-9003, the Jesse Brown VA Hospital inappropriately issued a criminal citation for a veteran who exhibited behaviors related to his documented mental illness.  This report indicates this is a direct violation of protection guaranteed by the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (405 ILCS 4/1 et eq.)  Were the rights of the Illinois veterans mentioned in the report violated while in the care of the VA hospitals?  What Illinois laws or policies were overstepped or disobeyed by the VA health care professionals or the VA police officers during the incidents described in the report?

6. The Commission states that “attempts to resolve the violations at these hospitals have either been unsuccessful or ignored.”  Additionally, this report states that “even after repeated requests the VA has failed to respond to these substantiated findings of rights violations for Illinois veterans with disabilities,” and that the two above mentioned cases were closed and published without any VA response. Why was there no response by the VA to these reports?  What action has the leadership at Hines and Jesse Brown VA hospitals taken to address the Commission’s concerns and recommendations?  Does the VA have a policy in place requiring response to state investigations based on violations against veterans in the VA’s care?

7. There is a reported practice of issuing criminal citations to in-patient veterans with mental illness.  This report indicates that the Commission’s Legal Advocacy Service Program has represented veterans at both Hines and Jesse Brown VA in involuntary commitment and court ordered medication hearings, one of which the veteran could not attend his hearing due to his in-patient status in the VA Behavioral Health Unit, but it took painstaking steps by the legal team to get the citation dropped so the veteran patient would not be held in contempt.  What are the VA policies governing VA police issuing criminal citations to veterans on the premises of VA hospitals, and most importantly, those veterans who are receiving in-patient treatment?

I am concerned that these practices may be widespread and only thanks to the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission these violations were uncovered.  Veterans with mental health problems should not be treated with less respect or without protections of their rights. Finally, I request that the VA establish a working relationship with state agencies like the Commission who provide important services to our less fortunate and disabled veterans.  The wellbeing and humane treatment of veterans in need of mental health care is of vital importance.  Federal and state agencies should be working together in the best interest of our nation’s heroes.

I look forward to receiving timely updates on your investigation and learning of your findings and recommendations to protect the rights of veterans who are seeking or in need of treatment at a Behavior Health Unit at Hines and Jesse Brown VA Hospitals.

I appreciate you opening an investigation into these allegations.

Mark Kirk
United States Senator

Full Article & Source:
Senator Kirk Calls On VA Inspector General To Open Investigations Into Mental Health Treatment in Illinois VA Hospitals

City Hall Tightens Control of Deed Changes After Nursing Home Deal

July 8, 2016

With several investigations into the deed modification and sale of a Manhattan nursing home still active, the de Blasio administration on Friday announced a new policy to overhaul its procedure for removing or amending deed restrictions.

The new process was designed to prevent a repeat occurrence of how the city handled the Rivington House nursing home’s restrictive deed, which had limited its use only to nonprofit health care providers. But after Allure Group, a for-profit nursing home company, paid $16.15 million to the city to remove all restrictions on the coveted Lower East Side property, the building ended up in the hands of luxury condominium developers.

On Friday, City Hall released a 24-page document outlining and explaining the amended policy, which included repeated references to how the changes would have affected that transaction.
The new process would apply to 14 applications for deed changes that the city shelved in March after the Rivington sale came to light.

In the future, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which handles deed changes, would “include legally binding language around the proposed use of the property in the revised deed restriction,” suggesting that no such language existed in the paperwork surrounding the Rivington deal.

Final approval of all changes would also now be put in the hands of Mayor Bill de Blasio — not his Office of Contract Services as is currently done — and only after a review by a new committee of top City Hall and administration officials.

Questions remain about how City Hall, which had been closely involved in discussions around Rivington House in 2014, was blindsided when Allure Group sold the property to developers for $116 million in early 2016, four months after the deed change. Memos detailing progress in the deed changes suggested top officials were being updated in the middle of 2015. Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said he only learned of the Rivington House sale in late March from news reports.

City Hall officials acknowledged on Friday that the administration had known about the requests to lift the deed on Rivington House, though they provided no detailed timeline.

“City Hall staff reviewed the potential alternative uses of the Rivington property with a number of agencies,” the document released on Friday said; and it concluded that the building’s continued use as a nursing home — as the administration has said was promised by Allure — served the city’s interests.

Under the new procedure, the city would consider “policy goals” in determining whether to remove a restriction in whole or in part, and not simply, as had been done for more than two decades, appraising the property’s value and then assessing a fee — usually 25 percent of the appraisal — for removing the deed restriction.

The document did not say whether the $16 million reflected that 25 percent formula.

City Hall officials have so far not explained how the two appraisals, done by an outside party in 2013 and by the city in late 2014, failed to arrive at the market value of the property that was reflected in its eventual sale. The document described them as “outdated by the time of the closing.”

The money received by the city from the Rivington deal, $16 million, should be directed “towards the creation of much needed affordable senior housing in the affected community,” the document said, and the mayor “will direct Health & Hospitals to explore the creation of additional nursing bed capacity to the affected community” to replace those lost in the Rivington sale.

The Allure Group and the city still face scrutiny from the state attorney general, the city comptroller and the city’s Investigation Department. The deals are also being looked at by federal prosecutors.

Full Article & Source:
City Hall Tightens Control of Deed Changes After Nursing Home Deal

Why Inheritors Fire Their Parents' Financial Advisors

The largest intergenerational transfer of wealth has already started. According to one projection, about U.S. $41 trillion will be handed over to heirs by 2052. Financial advisors are very likely to lose investable assets when their clients while alive or at death transfer monies to inheritors.

In a survey of 144 heirs who inherited a minimum of U.S. $2 million, 96.5% of them fired the financial advisors that were managing the funds for their parents. There are a number of interrelated reasons for this decision.

Topping the list, cited by about three-quarters of the inheritors, is that they had their own financial advisors or wealth managers. The heirs gave the monies to these professionals with whom they have solid relationships. Contributing to the shifting of funds is the fact that nearly three out of five of the inheritors reported they do not know their parents’ financial advisors. The parents’ financial advisors have tended not to take actions to build relationships with the heirs.

A third of the inheritors said they were uncomfortable with their parents’ financial advisors. And more than a quarter of the heirs reported that they could not relate to their parent’s financial advisors with a similar percentage saying they simply did not like these advisors. Nearly a fifth of the inheritors said their parents’ financial advisors were “out of touch,” and slightly fewer of them said these financial advisors were too difficult to work with.

The bottom line is that heirs are inclined to take their inheritance (i.e., investable assets) away from their parent’s financial advisors and turn them over to professionals with whom they have a stronger relationship. There are a number of different ways for financial advisors to maintain these monies when inheritors have control over the funds. However, doing so requires being forward thinking, highly systematic, and being able to customize asset retention strategies to particular client situations.

Full Article & Source:
Why Inheritors Fire Their Parents' Financial Advisors

Friday, July 15, 2016

Northern Nevada man charged with abusing guardianship system

An Elko County man has been arrested in connection with abuses of the guardianship system, the Nevada attorney general’s office announced Tuesday.

Wade Fordin, 53, will face one count of exploitation of an older person and one count of theft for acts authorities say were committed between February 2012 and November 2013.

According to the criminal complaint, Fordin was appointed as the permanent guardian of his 80-year-old mother, Helen Mae Fordin, after it was determined that she was unable to care for herself. Wade Fordin was entrusted with her estate for the limited purpose of providing for her care, but he personally used more than $6,000 of her money, the attorney general’s office said.

The case, which is being prosecuted by the attorney general’s fraud unit, comes just a week after the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee approved Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s request to use non-taxpayer settlement funds to take on financial fraud. The initiative also included about $400,000 for the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada to boost its capacity to take on civil guardianship exploitation and abuse cases.
This is the second guardianship-related case that Laxalt’s office has prosecuted.

Wendy Rudder, who was providing public guardian services under a contract with Lincoln County, pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct of a public officer related to unauthorized withdrawals from a ward’s guardianship account and was sentenced in the spring of 2015.

The case was referred to Laxalt’s office by Elko County officials during a law enforcement summit in February.

“My prosecutors will continue to partner with local law enforcement and district attorneys to deter the exploitation of vulnerable populations, and to ensure our elderly are treated with respect and dignity, not victimized,” Laxalt said.

Full Article & Source:
Northern Nevada man charged with abusing guardianship system

Sentencing hearing set for former municipal judge

A punishment trial is set this week for a former municipal judge for the City of Lone Oak, who pleaded no contest to a charge alleging she misused money belonging to the city.

A jury in the 196th District Court will decide the sentence for Lisa Marie Brown, who was indicted on one count of abuse of official capacity.

Brown, 57, entered an open no contest plea to the charge June 29.

An open plea means no plea bargain agreement has been arranged in the case and that Brown is subject to the full range of punishment.

The indictment alleged that on or about Feb. 18, 2014, during the time Brown served as municipal judge, she “intentionally or knowingly misused government property”, which belonged to the City of Lone Oak, “by withholding cash deposits, or diverting the money for personal use.”

The amount of the allegedly misappropriated funds was said to be between $1,500 and $20,000.

The charge is punishable upon conviction by a maximum sentence of up to two years in a state jail and a optional fine of up to $10,000.

Full Article & Source:
Sentencing hearing set for former municipal judge

See Also:
Former Lone Oak Judge Sentenced to Prison

Ex-Elmwood Park police sergeant not guilty in financial exploitation case

A Norridge resident and former Elmwood Park police sergeant has been found not guilty on charges of financial exploitation of a senior and official misconduct.

Cook County Judge Joseph Michael Claps on June 29 acquitted the former sergeant, John A. Wasilenko, 41, of charges he stole thousands of dollars from an elderly man he had befriended four years ago.

The Elmwood Park Police Department put Wasilenko on administrative leave following his arrest, and he later resigned, according to his attorney, Ralph Meczyk.

"We're very happy he was exonerated of the charges," Meczyk said the week after the verdict. "He was an innocent man facing some very serious charges."

Elmwood Park Police Chief Frank Fagiano declined to comment on the outcome of the case, and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office also had no comment. Wasilenko's attorney said he didn't know where Wasilenko had found employment since he left the Elmwood Park Police Department.

A request submitted to the Cook County Circuit Clerk's Office for the judge's order explaining the reasoning for not-guilty verdict was still being processed this week, according to Monalinda Saldivar, chief deputy clerk for the circuit clerk's public information office. That document was missing from the criminal division's records system following the verdict at the courthouse in Chicago.

Wasilenko was arrested in January 2014 and charged by the Cook County State's Attorney's office following an investigation that began in December of 2012, after prosecutors alleged he wrote himself and cashed a $20,000 check from the bank account of an elderly person he had befriended.

Prosecutors alleged Wasilenko met the victim, a then-84-year-old dementia patient, when he was a police officer and responded to a complaint about a burglary at the man's home. The victim told police a large amount of cash had been stolen from his apartment, according to earlier reporting from the Tribune.

Between Dec. 4 and 5, prosecutors said Wasilenko cashed a check from the man's account into his personal bank account at a TCF branch location, according to the state's attorney. Wasilenko later told investigators that he had befriended the victim and helped him out by driving him to appointments and said the $20,000 was a "thank-you" gift for all the things he had done for him, according to Tribune reporting.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-Elmwood Park police sergeant not guilty in financial exploitation case

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Free Genevieve Bush!

Free Genevieve Bush from Abusive Guardianship an unconstitutional violation of her rights as a U.S. citizen being forced into guardianship against all her written and expressed wishes. Advocates Mary Whitten and Coz Whitten-Skaife visited Genevieve on Sunday June 19, 2016 went into Park Lane at Bellingham in West Chester and here is her details of her visit.Thank you both for making Genevieve Bush smile.

"On Sunday June 19th 2016, I visited Genevieve Bush. I was really nervous as I knew she was in an abusive guardianship. I shouldn’t have to feel so much anxiety as I did. I was so nervous. I was dropped off at the front. I went into the nursing home and saw Genevieve eating with the others. I asked a staff person if I could visit her and they said she was done eating so they rolled her out into the lobby area by the TV. 

I sat down with Genevieve and read her a card. It was from her daughter and it read…I love you Mom and it had a smiley face on it. Then my phone rang. I answered it and I was able to hold the phone up to Genevieve’s ear for her to hear her daughter’s voice. At first Genevieve did not know who I was nor seemed excited to see me. She did not care about the card.

Once the phone was to her ear she lit up. She reached out and grabbed the card and started to smile. 

She also looked as if she would start to cry. She then reached out and held my hand. 

I spoke to her daughter on the phone told her how her Mom was reacting and then I put the phone back up to her ear and her Mom was noticeably happy.

I got 2 pictures of her Mom holding the card. Her Mom definitely appeared to be happy at the sound of her daughter’s voice on the phone. She continued to hold my hand and I gave her a hug. Feeling nervous about being there I left. I would say my total visit was about 10 to 15 minutes.

When I look back on this. I suffered severe anxiety and all I was doing was bringing an older women a card that said "I love you Mom." Why I should have been made to feel so nervous is SO wrong. I am aware of how predatory abusive guardianship work and no one should ever feel as if they can’t visit a nursing home. Shame on Chester Co for what you have done to the Bush family."

~Coz Whitten

F.A.C.E.U.S. :  Free Genevieve Bush

Bribe-taking judge will get annual $120,000 pension

By pleading guilty to bribery-related felonies days ago, John A. Michalek did nothing to jeopardize his six-figure state pension as a former State Supreme Court Justice.

He will be paid approximately $120,500 annually through his golden years, The Buffalo News determined through payroll records and a years-of-service figure provided by the State Comptroller’s Office, which manages the state’s pension funds.

The payments could change slightly based on subtle variables that will be considered before the payments begin later this year, a spokeswoman for the comptroller’s office said after being told of The News’s calculation.

Michalek’s pension is safe, even though New York lawmakers and good-government groups have long argued that public officials should lose all or some portion of their pensions if convicted of a crime related to their official duties.

Full Article & Source:
Bribe-taking judge will get annual $120,000 pension

Hospice care provider to pay $18 million for making false claims to Medicare hospice funds

Evercare allegedly filed hospice care claims for patients who were not eligible to receive that care

A Minnesota-based company that operates in Colorado will pay $18 million after falsely claiming Medicare reimbursement for patients who were not eligible for hospice care.

Evercare, now known as Optum Palliative and Hospice Care, settled a lawsuit brought by the Justice Department alleging that the provider knowingly submitted or caused false claims to be submitted to Medicare for hospice care from Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2013. These claims were proved false by Evercare’s medical records, which showed patients receiving Medicare hospice benefits even though they were not terminally ill.

The allegations arose from whistle-blower lawsuits filed by former Evercare employees. The government intervened under provisions in the False Claim Act and alleged that Evercare’s business practices were designed to maximize the number of patients it could bill Medicare for by discouraging doctors from discharging ineligible patients from hospice and failing to ensure accurate records were kept for patients’ conditions.

The agreement included no admission of wrongdoing by Evercare.

Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered more than $30 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $18.3 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs, according to a news release.

Full Article & Source: 
Hospice care provider to pay $18 million for making false claims to Medicare hospice funds

East Helena man accused of stealing $400,000 in elderly exploitation case

An East Helena man is accused of stealing more than $400,000 from an 81-year-old woman. Authorities say the he used the funds on gambling and fast food.

Ernest Norman Hughes, 53, faces felony charges of exploitation of an older person and theft by common scheme. Police allege the scamming started in 2003 and continued until recently.

Authorities were alerted to the situation as the woman was getting evicted for not paying fees at her nursing home. Court documents say Hughes, who met the woman when she hired him to work around her former home and later became friends with her, has power of attorney and controlled her finances.

An adult protective services worker learned the woman had about $434,000 in her account when Hughes took over her finances in 2003, according to documents. She also received about $1,600 a month. The woman ran out of money to pay for her housing and care in December.

Last month, police received bank records showing Hughes allegedly wrote a significant number of checks for cash and to casinos. Court documents note the 81-year-old was in a wheelchair and rarely left her residence. Hughes is also accused of using the woman's checks to eat fast food and give money to his relatives.

Authorities said although some of the checks were written for goods and services for the woman, "there is no accounting for the disappearance of more than $400,000."

Following the investigation, an arrest warrant was issued for Hughes on Friday. He made his initial appearance on the charges Tuesday.  

Full Article & Source:
East Helena man accused of stealing $400,000 in elderly exploitation case

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Staten Island nursing home security guard faces assault charges after punching 83-year-old Alzheimer’s patient

A security guard at a Staten Island nursing home punched an 83-year-old Alzheimer’s patient when she tried to leave the building, cops said Tuesday.

Michael Adagba, 55, hit the woman at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Verrazano Nursing Home on Castleton Ave. in Tompkinsville, police said.

She suffered swelling and bruises to her face, head and the left side of her body, according to court papers.

Adagba faces charges of felony and misdemeanor assault and harassment. Neither he nor nursing home officials could be reached for comment.

Full Article & Source:
Staten Island nursing home security guard faces assault charges after punching 83-year-old Alzheimer’s patient

ACL Awards $1.2 Million in Grants to Increase Older American's Access to Legal Services

The Administration for Community Living recently announced grant awards totaling over $1.2 million to help older adults at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation gain access to quality legal services.

The Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance Systems (Model Approaches) demonstration grants are designed to help states expand and improve the capacity of their legal service delivery networks to effectively respond to priority legal issues impacting seniors in the most social or economic need. The awards will become effective on August 1, 2016 and will provide 8 states with funding in the amount of $1,244,154.

Two Phase I awards, averaging $86,577, will be made to State Units on Aging in Tennessee and Wisconsin. The Phase I grantees will work to develop statewide legal service delivery systems that coordinate efforts of senior legal helplines, pro-bono attorneys, law school clinics, self-help sites, and Older Americans Act-funded legal services providers to ensure maximum impact from limited resources. The target populations are underserved seniors, with particular emphasis upon low-income, minority, rural, homebound, Native American, and limited-English speaking older adults.

*The State of Tennessee will use the funding to improve access to, and the quality of, legal services for vulnerable older Tennesseans. The state seeks to establish a senior legal helpline (as opposed to the existing general legal helpline); increasing by 25% the number of individuals who indicate they were appropriately referred to and served by the legal assistance system; and increasing by 15% the number of elders in the state who make use of self-help resources.

*The State of Wisconsin, which offers a unique service delivery system in its Elder Benefits Specialist program, will work in conjunction with key stakeholders to expand community partnerships; encourage the adoption of new technology to connect older adults with legal assistance; and leverage its existing statewide data collection system to measure systemic improvements.

Six states received Model Approaches Phase II grants to build upon the enhancements in service delivery capacity achieved in Phase I. The Phase II awards of $178,500 each will be made to State Units on Aging in Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia. The grantees will conduct legal systems capacity assessments, promote the use of senior legal helplines and other low-cost mechanisms, develop legal service standards and data collection systems, and enhance state legal and aging service delivery systems’ responses to elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Project examples include:

*The State of Connecticut will fund a Senior Legal Helpline that will use GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping to locate hard- to-reach seniors facing legal problems and train case managers serving homebound and isolated seniors to fight financial abuse.

*The State of Florida will create a uniform case management system designed to identify and prioritize legal issues related to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In addition, the project will feature a Working Interdisciplinary Network of Guardianship Stakeholders (WINGS) at the state court level to explore remedies to guardianship abuse and advance supported decision-making models.

*The State of Massachusetts will form four regional legal and aging network partnerships to address elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. The project will feature the recruitment and training of volunteer attorneys and law students to conduct law clinics at courthouses throughout the state with the goal of addressing priority legal issues impacting seniors most in need.

*The State of Pennsylvania will expand the SeniorLAW HelpLine to provide targeted advocacy and assistance for elder abuse victims in all counties. In addition, the project will feature designated “Elder Abuse Attorney” positions within III-B legal provider offices.

*The State of Vermont will create greater cohesion among the State Unit on Aging, Adult Protective Services, and the Long Term Care Ombudsman. In addition, the project will feature a Senior Legal Helpline designed to handle legal issues related to elder abuse. and the state will also participate in a supported decision-making task force involving legal and aging/disability partners.

*The State of Virginia will integrate a Senior Legal Helpline and at least two Title III-B legal providers into the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Center network to identify and respond to priority legal issues including elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. The project will feature formalized memorandums of agreement between project partners, cross-training on priority legal issues, development of legal assistance screening tools, and joint targeting and outreach activities.

ACL Awards $1.2 Million in Grants to Increase Older American's Access to Legal Services

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

$1,000 Reward Offered

For information regarding the interstate criminal conspiracy amongst six attorneys in Indianapolis (IN) and Tampa Bay (FL) area to defraud the Estate of Holocaust Survivor and Florida State Ward Al Katz of hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to his four great-grandchildren.

Contact: The AL KATZ Center for Holocaust Survivors, 941-313-9239

See Also:
NASGA profile:  Al Katz, Indiana/Florida

Financial Fraud is Hammering Retirees to the Tune of $36 Billion a Year

Karla Sibert was sitting in an Iowa hospital waiting room when she got some shocking news.

"The doctor just said, 'It's okay, it's okay. It's not cancer, we didn't find anything bad,' and I said 'you have no idea what I have just been through.'" It turned out her it wasn't the physical health of her 82-year-old mother Marlene Sibert's that was in trouble.

"I had her cell phone with me...and that's when I intercepted some phone calls," said Sibert. One was from a salesperson with Leading Health Source, a Las Vegas-based nutritional supplements company, wanting to know how her mother was feeling and if her new pills were helping.

Confused at first, Karla Sibert played along, asking how many pills were ordered and how much they cost.

Skeptical about what she was being told, the younger Sibert, who has power of attorney over her parents' finances, whipped out her mother's credit cards and began calling the card companies to check recent activity. Altogether on three cards, she found $44,000 worth of charges from Leading Health Source for boxes and boxes of unopened pills and drops. The products claimed to address a variety of health issues such as dry eyes or memory loss.

Once her mother was out of surgery, Karla Sibert asked her what happened.

"She said there was just about $500 dollars that she OK'd on a credit card," she said. As a result, her mother "didn't remember doing it and doesn't remember it was of that magnitude."

Unfortunately Marlene Sibert's story is not unique. Cases of older Americans being taken advantage of by telemarketers, investment professionals or even members of their own family are a common and growing problem that occurs mostly under the radar, advocates say. One recent study found seniors lose an average of $36.4 billion annually from financial abuse.

"I think cases like this kill people," said Liz Loewy, former head of the Elder Abuse Unit in the Manhattan district attorney's office. She is now general counsel for EverSafe, a company which offers account monitoring services for the elderly.

Full Article and Source:
Financial Fraud is Hammering Retirees to the Tune of $36 Billion a Year

See Also:
READ the study:  The True Link Report on Elder Abuse 2015

Monday, July 11, 2016

Florida Courtwatchers Would be Appreciated

See Also:
NASGA Profile:  Ernestine Franks, FL

Tonight on F.A.C.E.U.S (Blog Talk Radio) : That's My Inheritance"

Join us Monday night on F.A.C.E.U.S. with Robin and Lulu along with our guest, Jessica Tolany, from Miami, Florida: “That's my Inheritance” Civil Rights.

Listen Live July 11, 2016 from 6 - 8 pm PST / 7 - 9 pm MST / 8 - 10 pm CST/ 9 - 11 pm EST.

FACE.US "That's My Inheritance"

See Also:

Eagles Co-Founders Needs Better Care Following Wife's Studio City Shooting Death, Longtime Friend Contends

Studio City, CA - A judge today ordered two hospitals to release some of the medical records of Eagles co-founder Randy Meisner in response to a longtime friend's concern that the musician may not be getting adequate medical care under his current conservatorship.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Barry said the information potentially gleaned from the time Meisner was placed on a psychiatric hold after the March 6 death of the bassist's wife will help him decide whether the two conservators he previously appointed to oversee Meisner's personal and business interests are the right people for the jobs.

Barry also appointed Dr. David Trader to conduct a psychiatric evaluation of the 70-year-old Meisner, who has appeared in court for past hearings, but was not present today.

His 63-year-old wife, Lana, suffered a fatal gunshot wound March 6 when she lifted a rifle that accidentally discharged in the couple's Studio City home, according to police.

James Newton, who asked for the medical records and the examination, prefers that Donna Bogdanovich be appointed as Meisner's conservator. Newton said he has known Meisner for years and that he has been in contact with the guitarist's children regarding their father's health.

Bogdanovich is a former social worker and case manager who specializes in mental health issues. A non-jury trial of the competing petitions is scheduled for Aug. 11.

Barry's rulings came over the objections of Meisner and his lawyer, Bruce Fuller, who say the current conservators are performing well. But the judge said Meisner deserves to have him weigh all the information before ruling on a permanent conservatorship.

"He's asking me to make an informed decision and I need it to make an informed decision," Barry said.

Newton's lawyer, Troy Martin, said Meisner is someone with a history of substance abuse whose suicidal thoughts once prompted him to say he wanted to kill people with an AK-47 and then take his own life.

Under the current temporary conservatorship that Barry established on April 1, the judge named another longtime Meisner friend, Arthur Ford, as the temporary conservator of the musician himself, while Meisner's accountant, Thomas DeLong, was appointed temporary conservator of his business affairs.

At the time, the judge found Meisner was of sound mind in making the selections after questioning him. Meisner confirmed both Ford and DeLong were his choices.

Fuller argued it was unnecessary to release Meisner's medical records at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center and Aurora Las Encinas Hospital because Meisner will testify during the trial and Barry can come to his own conclusions afterward.

"You are going to get a sense of what capacity he has," Fuller said.

But Martin said Meisner's psychiatric state may have changed after his wife's death. He also questioned whether Ford, being a friend of the musician, was making the kind of independent decisions on Meisner's behalf that a neutral third party such as Bogdanovich would.

The Eagles were founded in 1971 by Meisner, the late Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Bernie Leadon. Meisner co-wrote and sang the hit, "Take it to the Limit."

Full Article & Source:
Eagles Co-Founders Needs Better Care Following Wife's Studio City Shooting Death, Longtime Friend Contends

Sentencing hearing begins for support worker convicted of elder abuse

A sentencing hearing began Tuesday for a personal support worker convicted of elder abuse.

Danilo Alcala, 62, pleaded guilty to sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a person with a disability – a 95-year-old war veteran with dementia. Alcala has been in jail for almost a year.

The Crown is asking for three to five years in jail, while the defense is asking for no further jail time.

The family of one of his victims was too distraught to attend Tuesday’s hearing, but it was their hidden camera that triggered the police investigation.

On July 9, 2015, the family of the 95-year-old man hired Alcala through Spectrum Health Care. The son of the victim had installed a camera in the living room where his father spends most of his time in order to keep an eye on him while he was away at work. While at work, he checked the camera and saw Alcala sexually assault his father.

Alcala attended the home, located near Broadview and Mortimer avenues, six times and sexually assaulted the victim on three of these occasions. The sexual abuse included forced masturbation and oral sex.

Police arrested Alcala on July 16.

In the course of the police investigation, two other complaints came to light. One of the elderly men involved in those complaints has since passed away. The Crown is not proceeding on a second sexual assault charge, related to that man.

Crown layer Karen Simone argued Wednesday that Alcala is a risk to reoffend and his comments during pre-sentencing are “ridiculous.”

“He has a lack of remorse … and blames the victim” for the sexual assaults, Simone said. Alcala also claimed he “was not aware he couldn’t do it.”

Alcala’s lawyer Scott Bergman countered that the media attention was a deterrent and that the Google searches will not go away.

“This is far more effective than jail time,” Bergman said.

Simone said that Alcala should not get a “media discount” on his sentence.

In an argument that Bergman himself said was difficult to make, he said there is no evidence of the impact the sexual assault had on the victim. His dementia makes it a grey area.

“In the video … when you see the victim … I am suggesting there is no resistance. That’s what I see,” Bergman said.

The judge will sentence Alcala in late July.

Full Article & Source:
Sentencing hearing begins for support worker convicted of elder abuse

The (not-so-hidden) costs of caregiving

Family caregiving is a huge topic nowadays. With over 75 million “baby boomers” poised to become the largest generation in American history to require such caregiving, how can it not be? Already, family members — people like you and me — provide $642 billion worth of unpaid care for our spouses, parents, and relatives each year. But what is the price we pay in terms of our personal well-being, physical and otherwise?

While caregiving has been shown to have benefits — it helps to build character, enrich one’s soul, and even ward off cognitive decline —its burdens can be just as significant, if not more so, as demonstrated by a new study published in a recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Realities of caregiving

Researchers at the University of Toronto followed a group of 280 caregivers of critically ill family members who had received seven or more days of mechanical ventilation (“breathing machine”) in the ICU for 12 months. The goal was to assess the impact of caregiving on the caregivers’ well-being and quality of life. The average age of caregivers in the study was 53; 70% of the caregivers were women, and 61% were caring for their spouse. Here’s what the study found:
  • More than half of caregivers had high levels of depression (67% were depressed at the start of the study, and 43% were depressed after one year of follow-up).
  • The depression decreased somewhat with time in 84% of the caregivers, but did not in 16%.
  • Caregivers who were younger, who had to give up regular activities for caregiving, and who had lost a sense of control over their lives tended to be worse off than the rest.
Notably, older caregivers were better off health-wise than younger caregivers, perhaps because they had more free time and faced fewer work-related pressures. Those who fared better also had higher income — so were likely able to afford more paid help and to take more time off work — and had better support from family, friends, and community.

One of the study’s most important findings is that caregivers of critically ill family members may still be at risk for clinical depression for months, if not years, after the crisis is over — and that this risk is higher for these caregivers than for most of us, including those who look after loved ones with chronic progressive illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease. The study also notes that there is currently a lack of resources for caregivers.

Statistical data can hardly convey the anguish that many caregivers of critically ill patients face day-to-day: the anger, sadness, frustration, and loneliness of it all. And yet these are the feelings one hears about most often in the consulting room. Spouses may feel cheated out of their golden years and harbor resentment. (One client described caring for her husband with brain damage to be “as close to hell as it can get.”) Adult children can be in denial of a parent’s condition and blame the caregiving parent for not doing the “right thing,” or can sometimes expect the caregiver to be superhuman.

What caregivers can do to care for themselves

As medical science continues to make advances in prolonging the life span, more and more of us may find ourselves in the role of a family caregiver. The Toronto study reminds us that health crises may be unavoidable and that their effects can be profound. But there are strategies we can employ to mitigate their potential stresses and strains, such as:
  • Not doing it all alone. Get as much support as you can. Schedule a regular walk with a walking partner. Find a support group. Let friends and neighbors help out with cooking and errands.
  • Timely financial planning. Do not wait for a crisis to put your affairs in order.
  • Talking with our loved ones about their goals and wishes for care while they are still in good health, and drawing up “advance directive” documents that put these wishes in writing.
  • Last but not least, taking good care of ourselves, both physically and psychologically. Make sure you get enough sleep. Go to the gym. Take a yoga or meditation class.
As the Family Caregiver Alliance reminds us, when your needs are taken care of, the person you care for will benefit, too.

Full Article & Source:
The (not-so-hidden) costs of caregiving

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Senate Judiciary Chair Charges Federal Shortcomings On Elder Financial Abuse

Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley charged Wednesday there are shortcomings in what the federal government does to protect seniors from financial abuse.

“(Victims) have not received all the help they need,” said the Senator.

As one example of a void, he noted the Justice Department does not collect data on elder financial fraud.

At the start of a hearing on what he called “the crime of the 21st century,” Iowa Republican Grassley announced he and the Judiciary Committee’s lead Democrat, Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, soon will introduce a bill to beef up protection.

The legislation would provide for more effective interagency coordination, training to improve the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse, victim assistance to elder abuse survivors, improved data collection, and tougher penalties for senior scamsters.

“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,” the Senator said.

If the legislation is not made into law in the limited time Congress has left this year, Grassley said, he and Blumenthal will reintroduce the measure when Congress reconvenes next year.

He said he is hopeful he and his Democratic colleague can write a non-controversial bill that would be passed in September.

At the same time, he cautioned one bill could not solve all of the elder abuse problems.

Grassley said a big part of the problem is that crooks have found ways of victimizing individual seniors time and time again.

John Horn, chair of the U.S. Attorney General’s Advisory Committee’s Elder Justice Working Group, said the Justice Department is actively prosecuting a wide array of large international and domestic schemes targeting the elderly.

He added the DOJ is enhancing the capacity of state and local prosecutors, other law enforcement agencies and civil legal aid programs to also identify, combat and prosecute elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women was attacked for spending only one-half of 1 percent of its budget on senior abuse by the Elder Justice Coalition in a statement released at the hearing.
Despite the increased clamor in Congress and among financial regulators with the surge of baby boomers entering retirement, older Americans are not necessarily defrauded at higher rates than younger consumers, Federal Trade Commission official Lois Greisman told the panel.

She said the FTC is focusing its senior protection efforts towards online and impostor scams. 

Full Article & Source:
Senate Judiciary Chair Charges Federal Shortcomings On Elder Financial Abuse

Medicare services in trouble; Local Office for the Aging urges residents to contact local representatives

Last week, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted to completely eliminate the $52.1 million in funding for the Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), more commonly referred to as Health Insurance Information Counseling Assistance Program (HIICAP) in New York, from the 2017 budget, which, if passed, can cause local Office for the Aging departments to cut or lose needed and popular services.

“A major program we have is the health insurance counseling, and if this funding is eliminated, we would losing the total funding,” said Melissa Blanar, director for the Orleans County Office for the Aging.

The money goes toward helping older adults navigate the options they have for Medicare and what the best option they have, choosing from more than 20 prescription drug plans, an average of 19 Medicare Advantage plans, not to mention the various Medigap supplemental insurance policies.

“In Orleans County, we have people who go to Buffalo, some go to Rochester, so we have to see what plan would work for them best,” Blanar said. “I don’t know if they’re going to expect us to pick up the slack somehow (if the funding gets eliminated) because people are going to continue to come to our door for that. That’s mostly what we see in our office; ‘I’m turning 65. I don’t know where to go.

I don’t know what to do. I’m not sure what my options are.’”

In 2012, the Orleans County Office of the Aging helped 568 people. In 2015, it helped 797 for health insurance needs.

Orleans County isn’t the only one who saw an increase over the three year span; Genesee County Office for the Aging saw a similar jump, servicing 1,346 people in 2012 and 5,400 in 2015.

“That program is the one of greatest demand in our agency, and the one growing over time, especially with the growing baby boomer population,” said Ruth Spink, director for the Genesee County Office for the Aging. “We don’t really understand why (the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted to eliminate the funding). It has been a program that has been pretty level funded for decades.”

All three counties offer the service for free, but ask for donations to help with costs. Spink also pointed out the Office for the Aging is the only place people can get unbiased information, and in the first six months of 2015, the Genesee Office of the Aging saved Genesee County residents $353,000 overall for those six months.

“We’re all scrambling as far as Office for the Aging to insure that money is kept there because should they cut funding, that really is attached to staff. You eliminate that funding, you’re going to eliminate services,” said Angie Milillo, deputy director for Wyoming County Office for the Aging. “With the baby boomers coming through, we’re just starting now to in the last five, seven, years or whatever just start hitting the baby boomers.”

Currently the U.S. House of Representatives haven’t voted on SHIP funding, and Office of the Aging urges local representatives United States Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and United States Congressman Chris Collins to not eliminate funding for SHIP in the 2017 fiscal year.

The Orleans County Legislature passed a resolution Wednesday afternoon requesting federal officials to instead increase funding for SHIP to $59.4 million, to keep pace with inflation and increasing needs among a growing Medicare population, or at a minimum, level funding of $52.1 million should be provided. The local Office for the Aging also urges residents to contact representatives to ask local representatives not to eliminate the funding.

Full Article & Source:
Medicare services in trouble; Local Office for the Aging urges residents to contact local representatives

5 ways we rob people with dementia of their dignity

Sadly, there are countless ways we rob people who live with dementia of their dignity.

Here are five I’ve learned based on my personal experience:

1 ) Calling them by diminutive pet names instead of their given names

2 ) Treating them like they are little more than pieces of furniture

3 ) Forcing them to sit with nothing to do for hours on end

5 ) Innapropriately medicating them with antipsychotic drugs

Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity regardless of race, colour, creed, gender, or disease.

These tips and thoughts are based on my personal experience, as well as my knowledge and work as a certified PAC trainer; the quote is Teepa Snow’s (see disclaimer here).

Full Article & Source:
5 ways we rob people with dementia of their dignity