Saturday, September 24, 2016

Probate judge granted program that could erase attack charge

A Connecticut probate judge charged with choking his wife was accepted into a diversionary program on Tuesday that could result in charges against him being dismissed.

Judge Martin Landgrebe appeared Tuesday in Waterbury Superior Court and was accepted into the state's family violence education program. If Landgrebe completes the program, charges of misdemeanor strangulation and disorderly conduct would be dismissed next year.

Landgrebe continues to preside at Housatonic Probate Court in New Milford. He and his lawyer declined to comment on Tuesday.

Assistant State's Attorney Karen Diebolt did not object to Landgrebe's entry into the program. A full protective order barring Landgrebe from having contact with the woman was downgraded during Tuesday's court hearing to a residential protective order, which means he can have contact with the woman but has to stay away from her home.

Court documents do not identify the alleged victim, but Landgrebe's lawyer, David Moraghan, previously told the Connecticut Law Tribune that the woman is Landgrebe's wife.

Landgrebe turned himself in to police on Aug. 9 after learning there was a warrant for his arrest following a fight with the woman, according to court documents. The woman told police that Landgrebe pinned her in the grass by holding her throat, but that at no time did she have difficulty breathing.

Landgrebe told police he was defending himself. His lawyer has said that Landgrebe actually was the one who was assaulted.

Landgrebe filed for divorce soon after the incident, but withdrew the filing on Sept. 7, according to court documents.

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Probate judge granted program that could erase attack charge

Gentle Tomcat Comforts Elderly Veterans In Need Of Love And Support

Animals have special healing abilities, and anyone who has ever been sick with their pet around will surely agree with me.

Though medicine is important when fighting off an illness or healing a wound, there is something about snuggling up to your furry friend that instantly makes you feel better.

This phenomenon is definitely not just in our head;  there are plenty of nonprofits and organizations that use sweet service animals as a means to comfort people in times of need.

Even health centers are beginning to utilize the power that pets and purrs can have on the human spirit.

Salem VA Medical Center in Salem, Virginia, even partnered up with a local animal shelter to find the perfect pet to offer love to their many veterans.

Then they found Tom the cat, who made everyone in the hospital a little happier with his furry happy presence.

Check below to learn more about this amazing animal.

Animals always seem to have a healing presences; there’s no better feeling than a furry little friend snuggling up next to you when you’re not feeling well.

Salem VA Medical Center in Salem, Virginia understands this perfectly, and that’s why they have Tom the tomcat around.
In 2012, chief nurse Dottie Rizzo and physician assistant Laura Hart read the book “Making Rounds with Oscar,” which is a real-life account of a geriatrician and a cat who that comforted patients with dementia, who almost seemed like he could tell when they were going to pass.

They decided that they needed a kitty just like Oscar around for their vets in need, and got help from a local veterinarian to find the perfect feline for the job.

And Tom was the perfect cat for just that!

Loving and gentle, he slinks from room to room, cuddling up to patients who need a little extra love.

“Tom knows when someone is having a hard time. He laid on my bed a lot and I rubbed and scratched him the way cats like,”Army veteran James Gearhart explained to

“One day I gave him some of my Ensure vanilla drink and he drank every bit of it. Then he rubbed on me and licked my hands.”

Tom is there for the patients in the center, making the sometimes-grim environments a little happier and homier with his purrs.

He even comforts staff who have to deal with death; after pronouncing a veteran dead, Dr. Blake Lipscomb said that Tom looked up at him and meowed knowingly, having spent time with the patient and their family before they passed.

He even warms the hearts of people who aren’t too keen on kitties.

Though there is a ‘No Cat Zone’ in the hospital where patients and staff are guaranteed not to run into him, Tom usually ends up making friends with hospital-goers whether or not they are self-professed “cat people.”

He has also helped vets who have certain impediments due to age or disease.

A patient with Parkinson’s disease was even able to speak more clearly with Tom on his lap because petting him relaxed his mind and vocal cords.

He certainly brings joy to everyone at the center, both the vets and the staff who treat them!

Many find him on their lunch breaks to snuggle him and give him treats, while others diligently check to see if his litter box is clean.

Rizzo and Hart were right, the entire air is a little bit happier and homier with a sweet kitty stalking the ward.

Thanks to Tom and his special powers, these vets always have a healer, a friend, and a little source of happiness.  (Click to continue)

Full Article & Source:
Gentle Tomcat Comforts Elderly Veterans In Need Of Love And Support

Investigation Reveals “Epidemic” of Illegal Nursing Home Evictions

Advocates for the elderly are calling attention to nursing home evictions that violate federal law. Their complaints find support in an Associated Press investigation.

According to elder law attorneys, nursing homes are weeding out their most challenging residents, including those with dementia and severe disabilities. Nursing homes want to replace those residents with others who require less attention from staff.

About 1.4 million patients live in about 15,600 nursing homes. Both numbers have been steadily declining as children increasingly find other housing options for elderly parents, including assisted living facilities and in-home care providers. Perhaps because demand is declining, the AP investigation suggests that nursing homes are maintaining profitability by “cherry picking” the easiest patients.

AP Analysis of Nursing Home Evictions


The Associated Press examined complaints filed with the federal Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Each state has an ombudsman who attempts to resolve problems faced by residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other adult-care facilities.

The AP determined that complaints about involuntary transfers and evictions have increased by 57% since 2000. More than 11,000 discharge complaints were made to ombudsmen in 2014, making transfers and evictions the top-reported grievance that year.

An elder law attorney who directs the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative told the AP that evictions and involuntary transfers are emotionally devastating to nursing home patients, who are deprived not just of a home but of the community to which they have formed an emotional bond. Evictions separate patients from the friends and companions who provide a shield against depression.

Nursing Home Regulations


Nursing homes are permitted to discharge or involuntarily transfer patients under certain conditions. The Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 permits patients to be involuntarily transferred or discharged when:
  • the facility can no longer meet the needs of the patient’s welfare;
  • the patient no longer needs the services provided by the facility;
  • the safety or health of individuals in the facility is endangered by the patient; or
  • the patient has failed to pay for care (provided that the patient has been given 30 days’ notice of nonpayment).
Residents are presumptively entitled to 30 days’ notice if eviction is for reasons other than nonpayment. Since there are several exceptions to the 30-day notice requirement, however, the amount of notice that is required in any particular case is often unclear.

Eviction Motivations: Safety or Profitability?


Nursing homes must attempt to alleviate disruptive or aggressive behavior rather than turning to transfer or discharge as a first option. Patient advocates say that nursing homes stretch the rules, claiming (for instance) that they cannot provide adequate care for a patient with dementia even though the patient is still in the early stages of the disease, or that the patient poses a safety risk even though the patient’s behavior has been disruptive but nonthreatening. In many cases, the facility could provide adequate care but would prefer to serve patients who are less demanding.

A trade association for nursing homes takes the position that procedures are in place to assure that evictions comply with the law. The association’s senior vice president told the AP that some patients “require so much staff attention to manage them that the other residents are endangered.”

Advocates for the elderly agree that patients are evicted when nursing homes perceive them as taking too much staff time. They contend that the solution is to hire more staff, not to discharge the patients who need attention. Advocates also complain that nursing homes discharge patients whose children have made complaints about substandard care.

Managing only “easy” patients allows nursing homes to handle more patients with fewer staff members. Maintaining a balance of “easy” and “difficult” patients, on the other hand, requires nursing homes to increase staffing levels. Elder advocates argue that too many nursing homes maximize profits by operating with too few staff members.

Elder advocates also point to nursing homes that discharge patients who are on Medicaid so that beds can be made available for private-pay patients. Nursing homes make substantially more money per patient when they are not limited to the Medicaid reimbursement rate.

Poor Enforcement of Laws


Patients are entitled to appeal a discharge or transfer decision. Even when patients are aware of that right and muster the resources to pursue an appeal, nursing homes often disregard adverse decisions. A number of children told the AP about nursing homes that refused to follow orders to readmit their parents.

According to an elder law attorney with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, illegal evictions have reached epidemic levels. After reviewing nursing home violations in Philadelphia over a three-year period, the attorney could find only one instance in which an operator was actually cited for an involuntary discharge. The citation that was issued in that case carried no fine. Knowing that eviction rules have no teeth, nursing homes don’t worry about the law’s bite.

Proposed reforms range from stronger enforcement of existing laws to holding nursing home administrators personally liable for illegal evictions. Assuring that patients understand their legal rights is another option. Higher reimbursement rates for Medicare patients, particularly those with dementia who may require more staff time, might also encourage nursing homes to comply with existing laws.

Full Article & Source:
Investigation Reveals “Epidemic” of Illegal Nursing Home Evictions

Friday, September 23, 2016

9 Investigates: Woman says court-appointed guardian took 88-year-old aunt to unknown location

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. - The niece of a Flagler County woman called 9 Investigates after she said the 88-year-old matriarch of her family was taken to an unknown location by a court-appointed guardian.

Lillie White was declared incapacitated five years ago and has been a part of Florida’s Elder Guardianship system ever since.

A court filing stated White was “taken to an anonymous location” by a recently-appointed temporary guardian on Aug. 30, and her family hasn’t seen or heard from her since.

“She was not in danger. There was no emergency situation. There's no justifiable reason for her to be taken from her home,” White’s niece, Teresa Kennedy, said.

A Flagler County judge gave an elder law attorney the role of emergency temporary guardian in July after Kennedy’s mother, who is White’s sister, was removed from her position as guardian due to questions about her ability to provide proper care.

Family members dispute the allegation and said the longtime guardian was not afforded due process during the hearing in which she was removed.

WFTV legal analyst Belvin Perry presided over White’s original guardianship case in Orange County in 2013.  Perry recalled a contentious court battle amongst White’s family members over who should control and inherit the woman’s assets, including a substantial trust.

“The judge will appoint a neutral third party to act as guardian so the judge can get an impartial read on what's going on,” Perry said.

White’s case isn’t unique; There are more than 3,000 people currently being cared for through Florida’s Guardianship system; Anyone can petition for a person to be declared incapacitated in Florida, leading to control over their finances and, in some cases, with whom they socialize.

AARP estimated the amount of elder assets being controlled by guardians nationwide to be $1.5 billion.

White’s temporary guardian couldn’t talk about the case, but court records provided to 9 Investigates by White’s family showed the decision to move White to respite care was based upon attorney observations and recommendations of an independent care management consultant. The filing also noted that White “has never once asked about her sister nor her niece and has not asked to go home.”

“I don’t know why they're not telling us where she is,” Kennedy said.

There is a hearing Friday morning for plenary guardianship, which would give the guardian full control over White's every move.

The family said they plan to attend the hearing.

Full Article & Source:
9 Investigates: Woman says court-appointed guardian took 88-year-old aunt to unknown location

At 85 he foiled a financial scam; other seniors aren't so lucky

Eleanor & Stanley Podolski, Jr.
MARYLAND HEIGHTS • Coded locks on the retirement center doors speak to the challenges confronting patients and their caretakers. The security is supposed to keep people such as Stanley Podolski Jr. in, not out.

He landed here after wandering off from less-secure facilities. Podolski, 88, has dementia. Still, he remembers growing up in north St. Louis. Being a butcher there, then a loan officer at Pulaski Bank when it was on Cass Avenue.

He remembers being involved with St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, an independent Catholic congregation with Polish roots.

But he needed prompting to remember how he foiled a crime a few years ago that victimizes more folks like him every year. Somebody tried to rob part of his precious nest egg.

It wasn’t done with a mask and gun. Rather, blame fell to a woman he liked dealing with who sat at a desk off to the side of the teller windows at Regions Bank, 11920 New Halls Ferry Road, in Florissant.

Podolski invested $25,000 in certificates of deposit there in 2013 with the help of Kathryn Ann Smith, now 66, a bank associate, according to a police report that laid out what happened next.

When Podolski’s certificates matured, police records say Smith suggested that he put the cash in a money market account, which he did.

Six months passed.

Then Podolski wanted the cash in the money market account to be invested in a new batch of certificates of deposit. Smith was to complete the necessary forms. Podolski received a letter in the mail — without Regions Bank letterhead — detailing the five different CD accounts.

When Podolski checked his balances one day, there were discrepancies. With the help of his son, a former auditor and bank board member, they found monthly withdrawals they didn’t know about from the former money market account worth at least $22,000.

He had been the victim of a type of abuse that can be a tricky arena because it’s often laced with shame, diminishing mental health, stressed family dynamics and hopelessness.

Experts say financial exploitation of the elderly typically involves a person in a position of trust: anyone from a caregiver to a longtime hairdresser. There’s also the garden variety of scam artists who befriend seniors by telephone, online or in person.

And it’s a crime that will be a threat for a long time, with about 10,000 people turning 65 every day nationwide. Pockets of St. Louis County in particular, which saw tremendous growth following World War II, are ripe territory for financial abuse of older adults.

There are systems in place to help, but with limited effectiveness.

A Missouri law passed last year, for example, gives financial firms greater authority to step in if they have cause to believe a senior is being exploited.

The state, meanwhile, has seen a spike in calls to its elder abuse hotline.

In 2015, there were 27,595 calls to the hotline, of which 5,497 were about finances. In 2012, there were 23,693 calls, including 4,174 regarding finances, a fourth of which are typically substantiated.

“We are worried that elder abuse is underreported, not just in Missouri, but nationally,” said Celesta Hartgraves, director of the state’s Division of Senior and Disability Services.

She said more people will be abused as the number of older adults increases. She said seniors can be lonely. They tend to listen to scams. Some have greater financial resources yet suffer cognitive declines. They are often embarrassed to report being taken advantage of.

“Seniors are really attractive targets for that kind of fraud,” Hartgraves said.

Raising suspicions

Podolski’s case is unusual in that the victim got his money back just before dementia set in.

But that’s probably only because Stanley Podolski had a son — and a former bank auditor at that — as an advocate.

Even then, it took pushing for answers.

Podolski said in an interview that he had told the bank branch manager about his suspicions of missing money, but the manager initially suggested that it was Podolski, 85 at the time, who was probably mistaken. The manager described Smith, who had worked at the bank for years and was about to retire, as golden.

The more Podolski and his son pressed, the less the bank’s story held up. Surveillance tape didn’t place Podolski at the bank at the time of withdrawals. Signatures were off. And, amid Podolski’s chats with the manager, Smith walked off the job, never to return.

St. Louis County police found her at home, in the 10400 block of Durness Drive. Her elderly mother let them in and a detective explained the investigation. According to the police report, Smith said she had no idea what the detective was talking about. The detective, who didn’t believe her, showed her a withdrawal slip.

“That’s my handwriting, but that was for my mother’s money market,” Smith told police.

She clammed up and refused to say more without an attorney. Police arrested Smith on the spot. She was accused of forgery and financial exploitation of the elderly, charges to which she pleaded guilty.

“I caught her,” Podolski said from the retirement home.

Eleanor, his wife of 66 years, sat beside him, helped him navigate his history.

“She probably thought he wouldn’t remember,” Eleanor said about her husband being targeted.

Changing the law

In typical cases, seniors aren’t financially savvy enough to detect fraud, or don’t have children who hawkishly monitor their finances. There are seniors who have their savings drained and are too embarrassed to talk about it.

Financial institutions are aware of the risks but have been somewhat limited by what they can do if they suspect someone is taking advantage of a client. But the laws are changing.

Wells Fargo Advisors formed an elder abuse task force in recent years at its St. Louis headquarters to spot suspected abuse and poor judgment. The firm said it has worked with the attorney general’s office to get clients assistance and guardianship.

The task force looks for red flags, like when a 92-year-old client worth $8 million appeared confused and thought his accountant worked for the post office. It turned out no fraud was taking place, but Wells Fargo Advisors asked police to do a wellness check and filed a report with Adult Protective Services for possible self-neglect. The man has since been moved to an assisted-living facility and his neighbor is in the process of being appointed guardian.

In another case, Wells Fargo Advisors intervened when a widower in his 60s formed an online relationship with someone he believed to be a 37-year-old woman. He eventually sent her $26,000 when she asked for money to resolve a legal matter. The man’s daughter caught on but wasn’t authorized to make decisions on her father’s account.

Eventually, Wells Fargo Advisors contacted the attorney general’s office, and an investigator was assigned. The man is being assessed for guardianship.

Ron Long leads the task force, which was formalized in 2014.

“A lot of it was the numbers continued to grow,” Long said of suspicious cases. “The thought was to have a central place for financial advisers to call.”

He worked with lawmakers to create the Senior Savings Protection Act, which was enacted in Missouri in 2015. It allows broker-dealers to notify certain parties of potential financial exploitation.
They can also refuse disbursement of funds from a brokerage account for up to 10 days.

Wells Fargo Advisors has relied on the new law just once since it passed. The state has received six complaints and is working to train brokers on how to make use of the law.

Meanwhile, California-based Wells Fargo bank was recently slapped with a historic $185 million fine and more than 5,000 employees have been fired for opening accounts without client knowledge as a means to boost sales figures.

On a smaller scale, Kirkwood financial adviser Robert S. Beyer II, 45, was just convicted in federal court on charges stemming from promising investors 8 percent to 18 percent annual returns from Heroic Life Assurance Company, which had a foundation bankrolled by a fictitious wealthy South American named Jesus Cristobal. Officials said the victims, in their mid-50s and early 60s, lost about $300,000.

Saying sorry

Much of the responsibility to ferret out abuse remains in the awareness of seniors themselves and their caregivers.

After the incident at Regions Bank, Podolski’s son, Stanley Podolski III, took over control of his parents’ finances.

“I can’t believe that my dad was the only one” who was ripped off by Smith, he said.
He and his parents shook their heads at the sentencing.

“We couldn’t believe that she didn’t get any jail time,” said Eleanor Podolski.

Smith pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years’ probation. If she fulfills the terms of probation, the forgery and exploitation of the elderly convictions will be wiped from the public record.

Ed Magee, spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, said it was a matter of getting restitution or jail time.

“It was either or,” Magee said by email. “I am sure the victim wanted the money.”

Had a weapon been involved, he said, there would have been a 10-year minimum sentence for first-degree robbery. In this case, forgery and exploitation of the elderly didn’t have minimum sentences.
He said Smith, who lost her job, had no prior convictions.

“Her record will be clear after five years but will always be available to law enforcement and can be used in any future prosecution if needed,” Magee said.

In an interview, Smith took drags from a cigarette as she sat on her front porch, which had a large U.S. flag tacked up from Labor Day.

“It was stupid, really stupid, and I am paying for it,” said Smith, one of her six grown children sitting beside her.

Smith said she left studies in speech therapy years ago to raise a family. They lived in a Glasgow Village home that she stays in now.

She said she went to work at the bank in 1992 to help pay for private school for her children. First she was a teller, then a teller supervisor. She was a financial services rep when she got into trouble in 2013.

She said she didn’t know why she stole from Podolski.

“I just always figured I’d put it back, but it didn’t happen,” she said, though she said she paid back the money after being arrested.

An official from Regions Bank, based in Birmingham, Ala., was apologetic and said the case in Florissant spawned companywide changes. Those include security alerts and internal reviews whenever associates process transactions on inactive accounts.

“There is nothing we value more than the trust of our customers, and, unfortunately, in this case, one of our former associates violated both the trust of her customer and the trust we had in her as well,” bank spokesman Jeremy King said by email.

He said Regions Bank checked to see if other clients were targeted. “Thankfully, no additional cases were found.”

Smith didn’t want to comment about what the bank could do to decrease the risk of forgery.

But, she said, with the availability of online banking services by computer and cellphone, there’s no reason not to check your balances most days.

“Everybody should,” she said.

Full Article & Source:
At 85 he foiled a financial scam; other seniors aren't so lucky

How False Stereotypes About People With Disabilities Hold Employers Back

More than 25 years after the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), physical architecture and some educational opportunities thankfully have changed, but many negative attitudes and stigmas about people with disabilities have not. Indeed, a major Princeton study shows that while people with disabilities are seen as warm, they are not seen as competent.

Meanwhile, a study published by Cornell Hospitality Quarterly analyzed results from a survey of employers at 320 hospitality companies in the United States. It found that all the companies share a concern that those with disabilities could not do the work required of their employees. Another top concern was the potential cost of unspecified accommodations they might need to provide for a person with a disability under the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act. This is despite the fact that most such accommodations are not exceptionally costly.

There is also evidence that employers fear legal action should they terminate an employee with a disability. It is far more difficult to prove discrimination for not being hired in the first place. So, given the perception that people with disabilities aren’t competent, and could potentially be costly, why would an employer take the risk of hiring them?

One of the employers who took the “risk” was Randy Lewis, former Vice President of Walgreens and Fortune 50 executive, who led Walgreens’ logistics division for sixteen years, as the chain grew from 1,500 to 8,000 stores. Randy introduced an inclusive model of hiring people with disabilities at Walgreens’ distribution centers that resulted in 10 percent of its workforce consisting of people with disabilities — all of whom are held to the same standards as their colleagues without disabilities.

The outcome? Study after study turned out to be myth-busters. The employees with disabilities were more productive and loyal than their non-disabled peers! And most accommodations? Either free or cheap. But even when the relatively few more expensive accommodations were factored in, the overall costs of accommodations were far outweighed by the low turnover rates and better tenures of the employees with disabilities. Grateful for opportunities, and in many cases thriving on repetitive tasks, they are so loyal to Walgreens that recruitment costs were saved as the employees continued to stay in their jobs and deliver excellent results. You can learn more about this in Randy’s new book or on the Walgreens website.

Other companies such as Ernst and Young (EY), have also found inclusive hiring to be a winning ticket. Starting with its founder, Arthur Young, EY has always embraced differing abilities. Trained as a lawyer, Arthur was deaf with low vision and he wasn’t able to comfortably practice. He turned to finance and the new field of accounting to build his career. His disability drove him to innovation and entrepreneurship, which played a pivotal role in the development of EY. Finding and engaging diverse talents has been a key part of EY’s ongoing success.

Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, “David and Goliath,” extols the strength of people with disabilities. Because traditional ways of doing things don’t always work for people with disabilities, Gladwell demonstrates that they compensate for that in ways that benefit the workforce by developing incredible ways to innovate and succeed.

AMC Theaters, Lowe’s, many grocery stores and others are also getting outstanding results by hiring employees with disabilities. So what are other employers waiting for? They are still blinded by negative stereotypes. It’s time for people with disabilities to be seen for what they can do, and not for what they cannot. What can people with disabilities do? Think about it.

Beautiful music from a deaf man? It happened. Ludwig von Beethoven.

World changing words from someone with dyslexia? It happened. Thomas Jefferson.

A Super bowl champion NFL player who is deaf? It happened. Derrick Coleman.

A Nobel Prize for a scientist who failed in school? It happened. Albert Einstein.

Secrets of the universe being revealed by a man who uses a wheelchair and who can no longer speak? It’s happening. Stephen Hawking.

It’s time to change the narrative of how we see people with disabilities, so employers can see the abilities they have and the positive impact on their business’s bottom line. It’s amazing that such a small change can have such a big impact. It can — if it is done in a focused and strategic way.

Employing people with disabilities may take a little more forethought and planning. The U.S. government recently changed their expectations of federal contractors who now must become at least partially inclusive of hiring people with disabilities. There are many groups that can help in the process including Business Leadership Network, Project Search, National Organization on Disability and others.

As the Baby Boomers continue to age, a powerful answer to labor and talent shortages already exists in our own backyards — our own family members and neighbors with disabilities who want to work.

Recognize the disability. Imagine the possibility. Respect the ability.

Full Article & Source:
How False Stereotypes About People With Disabilities Hold Employers Back

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Families of Abused Nevada Seniors Blame Politics for Senate Hopeful’s Inaction

Catherine Cortez Masto
Family members of senior citizens at the center of a controversy surrounding the Nevada guardianship system say their pleas for help to then-attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto, now a U.S. Senate candidate, were ignored for political reasons.

The family members accuse Jared Shafer, a former Clark County, Nev., official who runs a private guardianship firm, of bilking family members’ estates of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Shafer brushed off threats of legal action by invoking his connections to Masto, the Democratic candidate for Senate hoping to replace Harry Reid.

“Jared Shafer knew that Masto would never take a report” due to her family’s ties to Shafer, said Charles Pascal, whose mother-in-law died under Shafer’s care, in a Tuesday interview. “Why can these guardians do these things? They can do these things because they believe that no action will be taken.”

Nevada’s guardianship program has sparked controversy over allegations by the families of state wards that court-appointed guardians, who assume control over the estates of the elderly and indigent, extract excessive fees without providing basic levels of care.

The issue was thrust into the Nevada Senate race last month when the Freedom Partners Action Fund, a Super PAC that supports Masto’s opponent, Republican Rep. Joe Heck, highlighted the controversy in a television ad charging that Masto “let Nevada seniors down.”

Freedom Partners announced a $1.2 million television buy on Wednesday to broadcast a separate ad detailing additional complaints of abuse in Nevada’s guardianship program, and Masto’s apparent lack of action on behalf of families that asked her office for assistance.

The initial ad, titled “Abuse,” focused on Guadalupe Olvera, a World War II veteran placed in Shafer’s care after his wife and legal guardian passed away in 2009. “When the family pleaded directly with Catherine Cortez Masto for help, she turned them away,” the Freedom Partners ad claimed.

Rebecca Schultz, Olvera’s daughter says that Shafer billed her father’s estate for thousands of dollars in excessive and unsupported expenses. Those included payments to a case manager since imprisoned on felony charges of abusing the elderly after she was found to have stolen from state wards in her care and pawned their belongings.

A California judge terminated Shafer’s guardianship of Olvera in 2013, but not before Shafer billed the estate for another $240,000 in legal fees.

The Masto campaign called the Freedom Partners ad “another misleading ad by the billionaire Koch Brothers” in a statement on its website.

The campaign noted that Masto, as attorney general, “created a Senior Protection Unit to ensure investigators and prosecutors had the tools to pursue those who abuse, neglect or exploit seniors.”

The campaign also pointed to legislation “prepared with [Masto’s] support” that created a licensing system for Nevada guardians and imposed stricter financial oversight. That legislation was not introduced in the state legislature until after Masto left office.

The Masto campaign did not respond to a request for further comment.

Schultz says Masto refused to directly assist in Olvera’s case. When she asked for help, Masto’s office sent Schultz a brief letter saying that the issue was outside of the attorney general’s purview.

Schultz believes that Masto’s family’s relationship with Shafer was one reason that she did not offer any assistance. Manny Cortez, Masto’s late father and a long-time fixture in Las Vegas politics, was a friend of Shafer’s, according to former Las Vegas city councilman Steve Miller.

The two occasionally worked together directly. Cortez sat on the board of a nonprofit that employed Shafer as its secretary and granted funds to the Manuel J. Cortez Elementary School, which is named for Masto’s father.

When Schultz threatened to take legal action to terminate Shafer’s guardianship, she says he brushed it off by noting his relationships with Masto and her father.

“Mr. Shafer and his cronies had indicated that Ms. Masto would NOT do anything since her deceased father, Manny Cortez, was buddies with Shafer and she will continue to whole heartedly protect her daddy’s old friends, no matter how criminal they may be,” Schultz wrote on the website of the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse.

Shafer did not respond to requests for comment made through the website of his guardianship company, Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada, Inc.

Pascal relayed similar conversations with Shafer, who Pascal says “removed over $350,000 in fees from [his mother-in-law Marcy Dudeck’s] estate trust account even though he hadn’t performed any guardian services.”

DuDeck was one of Shafer’s wards, though she lived in a nursing home in California at the time. ‪Patience Bristol, the Shafer associate who would later end up in prison on elderly abuse charges, facilitated DuDeck’s removal from her California nursing home in violation of a court order in 2006.

He immediately sought help from then-California attorney general Jerry Brown. Brown’s office referred him to Masto because DuDeck was a ward of the state of Nevada.

Pascal recounted the conversation with a staffer in Masto’s office.

“I got a staff member on the phone who said ‘we don’t take reports on guardians,’” he recalled. “I said but what happens when someone is kidnapped? … They put me on hold. Then they asked me the name of the guardian. I said the guardian’s name is Jared Shafer. Then I was put on hold again. They came back and said ‘we don’t take reports on Jared Shafer or any guardian.’”

Like Schultz, Pascal says Shafer invoked his connections to Masto’s family when threatened with legal action.

Pascal remembers telling Shafer that he would take the issue up with Masto directly. “He says, ‘go ahead.’ He says, ‘Let me tell you something, Catherine’s father put me in as a guardian, we were friends for years. Try filing a report and see what happens.’”

In its statement on Freedom Partners’ ad, the Masto campaign defended its lack of action against Shafer, noting that the AG’s office “was legally prohibited from giving legal advice or opinions to private citizens.”

However, Masto’s Republican successor, current attorney general Adam Laxalt, has made guardian abuse a priority issue. He joined Las Vegas and Clark County officials in March to announce “a joint investigative and prosecution team to help combat guardianship and elder exploitation in Nevada.”

By June, Laxalt’s office was prosecuting two Nevada guardians. It also moved that month to steer federal mortgage settlement funds to a legal aid center for the explicit purpose of combatting guardian abuse.

Pascal effusively praised those and other recent efforts to address the guardianship controversy. “Everything that Masto didn’t do, Laxalt is doing,” he said. “I’ve had calls from his office myself.”

There is still work to do to root out abuse in the system, he added.

“When you turn a battleship, you don’t turn it on a dime,” Pascal said. “Laxalt’s got 30 years of corruption he’s gotta turn.”

He sees Masto as a product of, if not a participant in, that system.

“She stands for the old guard, that old guard of Boss Tweed corruption, whereby you’ve got your contributors, your friends, and this is way it always was, and this is the way it always should be,” he said.

“She’s yesterday. And that’s the whole problem, because yesterday doesn’t work anymore.”

Full Article & Source:
Families of Abused Nevada Seniors Blame Politics for Senate Hopeful’s Inaction

Newest Nevada Senate ads focus on guardianship abuse, Kochs

LAS VEGAS (AP) — At least seven new ads are up on Nevada airwaves this week in the state's high-stakes U.S. Senate race.

The newest include a spot released Wednesday by Freedom Partners Action Fund, which is linked to the billionaire Koch brothers. It makes a similar argument as one of the group's older ads that Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto didn't do enough to prevent private guardians from abusing seniors.

The former Nevada attorney general says she helped shape a bill offering solutions that was introduced after she left office.

Meanwhile, the Harry Reid-linked Senate Majority PAC released an ad Tuesday dramatizing Republican Rep. Joe Heck answering calls from the Koch brothers on an iPhone and suggesting he does their bidding.

Heck's camp says such arguments are hypocritical because huge PACs also support Democrats.

Full Article & Source:
Newest Nevada Senate ads focus on guardianship abuse, Kochs

Old and Alone: The Epidemic of Elder Abuse in America

In 2015, 77-year-old Elaine Latshaw was found dead in her home in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, covered in her own urine, feces, and blood. Her foot was so destroyed by gangrene that the bones were protruding, according to local news reports. An autopsy later attributed her death to "aspiration pneumonia due to multiple pressure ulcerations, gangrene, and malnutrition due to hypertensive vascular disease with vascular dementia."

Local police say her death was no accident. This summer, Latshaw's son John and his girlfriend Dorothy Robinson were charged with the third-degree murder for their failure to care for Latshaw.

The couple, for their part, say they were simply following Latshaw's wishes—and that she wanted to die.

By 2040, more millennials will be caring for the elderly than for the next generation of children. One in ten of those people will be abused—emotionally, physically, or both—and for 90 percent of those abused, it will be at the hands of their own family and caretakers, according to the National Council on Aging.

"It really is a national hidden scandal," said Sherri Snelling, CEO and founder of caregiver support service Caregiving Club, who has worked in and outside of the government to advocate for elder rights. "There's a lot of shades of gray to this."

Full Article & Source:
Old and Alone: The Epidemic of Elder Abuse in America

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Palm Beach Clerk's Office Honored for Guardianship Fraud Program

Sharon Bock, Clerk of Courts Palm Beach County
Melanie Bell

Palm Beach County's Clerk & Comptroller office uncovered more than $5.1 million in unsubstantiated disbursements, missing assets and fraud in the probate court's guardianship program.

Clerk Sharon Bock implemented a guardianship fraud program and hotline in 2009 to allow anonymous tips on waste and financial fraud in court-appointed guardianships over the elderly, minor children and other wards. She has since audited and investigated more than 900 cases involving allegations of missing money or property, suspicious loans, financial transfers, unauthorized access to bank accounts, conflicts of interests and other violations of federal, state or local laws, according to a statement Tuesday.

That work earned Bock's program international recognition at the 4th World Congress on Adult Guardianship held Sept. 14-17 in Berlin, where it was the only U.S. venture among eight others honored for innovation.

"The exploitation of our most vulnerable citizens is not only an issue in the United States, it is a worldwide crisis," Bock said. "I have made it my mission to team up with leaders on a national and international level to strengthen guardianship laws."

Full Article & Source:
Palm Beach Clerk's Office Honored for Guardianship Fraud Program

Tragic consequences when nursing homes neglect substance abuse

Kenneth “Bubba” Levesque was taking medicine to quell his cravings for heroin when he entered Braemoor Health Center last summer. Massive infections had forced the amputation of his lower left leg, and he needed help learning how to walk again with a prosthetic limb.

Levesque, a teddy bear of a man, seesawed between addiction and recovery many times over the years, and told his family that this was his wake-up call, that he was finally going to “get clean” while in the Brockton nursing home.

But state records show that three days after Levesque was discharged from Braemoor in March, the 43-year-old was dead from an opioid overdose, a grim coda to his seven months at the nursing home.

During those months, according to state reports and Levesque’s family, he received escalating doses of opioid medications and no substance abuse counseling — at the very time he had vowed to banish narcotics from his life.

Even as regulators and health leaders have launched myriad initiatives to combat the opioid crisis in Massachusetts, nursing homes — where potent pain medications are routinely administered — remain distant outposts.

Few nursing homes are prepared to identify and treat residents with a history of substance abuse, and even when they do, services to care for such patients have typically not been a priority, say addiction and long-term care specialists.

The issue became news this summer when Braemoor became one of at least two Massachusetts nursing homes where state inspectors declared patients in “immediate jeopardy” because of serious violations, including lack of substance abuse treatment and staff training.

Braemoor’s parent company — which has faced other concerns about quality of
care — says it has since significantly improved treatment for residents with addictions.

The critical gap in substance abuse care is expected to grow as baby boomers reach an age when they begin entering nursing homes at a hastening rate, specialists said.

“The addiction crisis is going to be in patients in every demographic, and it behooves nursing homes to learn how to take care of [these] patients,” said Dr. Sarah Wakeman, medical director of the substance use disorder initiative at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Physicians need to be more aware of drug addiction in nursing homes, according to Dr. James Gessner, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. But that may be about to change. Gessner said the society’s panels on opioid therapy and on geriatric care will soon discuss ways to help physicians better address the issue.

“This is not age-dependent, not social- or economic-background dependent, and it certainly has to be an issue when taking care of our elderly patients, especially with the many mediations our elderly patients are on,” Gessner said.

A June report from the federal Office of Inspector General found that millions of older Americans received prescriptions for commonly abused opioids last year through Medicare, the government insurance program for people over 65.

Nearly one-third of beneficiaries getting prescriptions through Medicare received at least one of these drugs. And on average, these patients each had five opioid prescriptions in 2015, the report concluded.

    ‘The addiction crisis is going to be in patients in every demographic, and it behooves nursing homes to learn.’

Nursing home leaders say they are asking state health regulators for guidance on how best to care for the rapidly growing number of patients coming through their doors with drug addictions.

Tara Gregorio, senior vice president at Massachusetts Senior Care Association, the industry trade group, said administrators worry about visitors slipping nursing home patients opioids and other drugs.

“Some have called for limiting visitors and room searches, but it’s unclear if [state Health Department] regulations would allow for that,” Gregorio said. “And there are concerns about discharge to the community, are we doing it in a way that complies with the department’s regulations.

We believe there are discussions that need to happen on a regulatory front.”

The state Health Department said in a statement it is “in the process of finalizing written treatment guidelines to assist nursing homes in caring for those suffering from substance misuse.”

The guidance arrives too late for Levesque’s family, who say they were repeatedly rebuffed when they asked nurses at Braemoor Health Center about the powerful narcotics Levesque was receiving.

“I got into an argument with the lady who discharged him because they were sending him onto the street with nothing. No [addiction] counseling, nothing,” his sister, Robin Levesque, said.

“We begged them for a place for Kenny to go when he was coming home,” Levesque said. “And they said, ‘I don’t know what to tell you. Go to the emergency room.’ ”

Braemore’s parent company declined to answer questions about Levesque’s care.

The other nursing home recently penalized for lacking substance abuse treatment was Parsons Hill Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in Worcester. A patient there overdosed on heroin after injecting the drug directly into a tube that nurses had inserted so an ankle infection could be treated with intravenous antibiotics.

He survived.

A state investigation did not detail how the patient obtained heroin while at the nursing home but found he wanted help with a substance abuse problem and had not received it. The investigators concluded that Parsons Hill failed to develop substance abuse care plans for that patient and eight others who struggled with addictions, including one who also admitted using heroin while at Parsons Hill.

In the wake of the Braemoor and Parsons Hill cases, the state Health Department in May trained its nursing home inspectors about abuse of drugs in nursing homes to help them recognize whether facilities are providing appropriate care to patients with addictions, according to the department.

Synergy Health Centers, the New Jersey company that owns Braemoor and 10 other Massachusetts nursing homes, said in a statement the company instituted procedures to identify and treat substance abuse problems at all its nursing homes.

Those measures include identifying residents at risk of addiction and referring those with a history of substance abuse to treatment.

The company also is educating staff about chronic pain, opioid use, and addiction. Additionally, it is conducting weekly support meetings for residents run by specialists. Finally, Synergy said it enhanced surveillance in outdoor smoking areas.

Parsons Hill said in a statement it enhanced its procedures, including “increased staff education and awareness in the areas of substance abuse disorders, and has contracted with a licensed alcohol and drug counselor to provide on-site support services.”

The statement did not say whether Athena Health Care Systems, the Connecticut company that manages Parsons Hill, has enhanced substance abuse care at its 18 other Massachusetts nursing homes, or those it manages in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Athena declined to answer further questions.

For patients who have already started down the path to substance abuse treatment, finding a spot in a nursing home can prove vexing. Mass. General’s Wakeman said nursing homes sometimes misunderstand federal regulations regarding treatment of patients receiving medicine to block opioid cravings.

That prompts the nursing homes to claim — erroneously — they cannot accept such patients, forcing Wakeman to regularly hunt for nursing homes for patients who need longer-term care, but who also are receiving treatment for substance abuse.

A New York nonprofit, The New Jewish Home, is trying to make it easier for addicts to find care in nursing homes.

Two years ago, it embarked on an experiment involving 120 patients that included Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in the nursing home, talk therapy, and care by specialists who replaced potentially addictive drugs with medications that don’t lead to addiction.

Program workers paid close attention to patients as they were discharged, to ensure they had ample support, including outpatient therapy and home visits.

Executives for the New Jewish Home said they have not yet calculated how much the intensive program costs for each patient, but have committed to continuing it.

In the first two years, the company found that roughly two-thirds of patients who had been addicted to alcohol or drugs reported no relapse one month after discharge.

“If that home visit indicated a relapse, I would do a second home visit with them, to make sure they are getting whatever services they need,” said Sherry Samaroo, coordinator of the geriatric substance abuse recovery program for the nonprofit.

Full Article & Source:
Tragic consequences when nursing homes neglect substance abuse

Nursing home to pay $3.5 million to settle illegal patient transfer allegations

A California nursing home and two physicians who worked at the facility will pay more than $3.5 million to resolve allegations that they took part in an illegal patient transfer scheme, authorities announced on Friday.

The settlement, reached in early August, resolves a whistleblower lawsuit brought by a former employee of Westlake Convalescent Hospital in Los Angeles. The employee's suit claims the facility paid kickbacks to a “care consortium” the city's Skid Row district to transfer patients to a hospital for unnecessary medical services between 2008 and 2010.

The patients were then transferred from the hospital to Westlake for unnecessary skilled nursing stays. The facility also allegedly billed Medicare and Medi-Cal for these services.

Jasvant Modi, M.D., a physician at the facility, allegedly admitted patients from the nursing facility to the now-shuttered hospital and back again to extend their Medicare-covered stays. His wife and fellow physician, Meera Modi, M.D., also reportedly signed medical orders for non-payable services provided to patients admitted through the scheme.

McKnight's call to Westlake for comment was not returned by press time.

The case is linked to a larger scheme to defraud federal and state health programs by illegally recruiting mostly homeless Skid Row residents for medically unnecessary hospital and nursing home stays, authorities said. Another physician pleaded guilty to his involvement in the scheme in 2013.

Ricardo Gonzales, the whistleblower who brought the case, received $534,471 from the settlement.

Full Article & Source:
Nursing home to pay $3.5 million to settle illegal patient transfer allegations

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pa. halted anonymous nursing home complaints for 3 years, audit finds

Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy (left) and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale on Tuesday discussed the results of an audit of the state's nursing home system.
Photo by Brad Bumsted | Tribune-Review

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Department of Health risked “residents' safety” by refusing to accept anonymous complaints against nursing homes for almost a three-year period, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Tuesday. 

Halting anonymous complaints violates federal policy and is “a decision that is absolutely breathtaking,” DePasquale said at a news conference. He said he suspects it was “an action intended to silence critics.” 

It occurred from 2012-14 under the former administration of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
Michael Wolf, who became acting state Secretary of Health in October 2012, was nominated by Corbett in April 2013 and confirmed by the Senate in May 2013. Now a vice president of a health care management company, Wolf could not be reached Tuesday for comment. 

DePasquale, the state's fiscal watchdog, said his auditors found no records indicating the rationale for the decision to stop accepting anonymous complaints. 

The audit covered January 2014 through October 2015, a total of 22 months, DePasquale's staff said. During that period, 4,062 complaints were filed against for-profit and nonprofit nursing homes. The complaints resulted in 47 sanctions, 32 of them monetary, according to DePasquale's office. 

Dr. Karen Murphy, the current agency secretary and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's appointee, said the department resumed accepting complaints from anonymous tipsters in 2015. Complaints increased 63 percent after the agency rescinded the policy of not accepting anonymous complaints, the audit said. 

Asked what percentage of anonymous complaints were validated, Murphy said about 10 percent. 

While the agency fully cooperated with the audit and many of the recommendations have been implemented, it still has “work to do” in assuring appropriate staffing levels, DePasquale said. 

The level of care provided to 80,000 Pennsylvanians in nursing homes is directly affected by staffing levels, Depasquale said, and the state health department did little to enforce a law requiring 2.7 hours of direct nursing care per day for each resident. 

In 7,325 instances of the agency completing a nursing home survey, it issued 13 citations — “an unbelievably low number,” DePasquale said. 

He cited examples of insufficient penalties, such as a resident with a history of wandering, who fell down a flight of stairs in a wheelchair. Staff responded immediately, but the patient later died in a hospital. The facility was cited for violations and fined $4,000. 

In another instance, after a complaint from a family member that a patient was “dirty, frail and unresponsive,” the person was found to be malnourished and dehydrated. The patient was receiving too much anti-psychotic medication, DePasquale said, and later died in a hospital. 

As a matter of policy, the names of the homes are not cited in the audit, DePasquale said. 

Murphy said citations issued to homes are publicly available on her agency's website

Pennsylvania's maximum civil monetary penalty is $500 per day. 

A comparison of selected states in the audit showed the maximum penalty is $100,000 in California, $10,000 in New York, $10,000 per day in Texas, and $25,000 in Illinois, which may be doubled. 

Russell McDaid, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, an advocacy group for nursing homes and their residents, applauded Murphy for requesting the performance review audit from the auditor general, including ways the department can improve its enforcement. 

However, McDaid cautioned that “more stringent penalties do not alone improve care.” 

“It is important to note that when any sanction or penalty is considered, the most important goal is to identify the practice in question, take steps to correct the practice and ensure that any sanction does not jeopardize the facility's ability to improve resident care, comfort and safety,” he said. “Taking financial resources away from the bedside does not improve resident care.”

Full Article & Source:
Pa. halted anonymous nursing home complaints for 3 years, audit finds

Rhythms of a Great Day

Managing time takes on a whole new meaning when you’re a full time caregiver. Flying by the seat of your pants is not an option when a loved one is depending on you for basically everything. You have to find a way to use your time wisely while making your loved one feel secure and cared for. Working out a good schedule can take a lot of pressure off of you and make your loved one’s days a lot better. A good schedule can be a lifesaver should someone have to step into your shoes for a few hours or even a few days.

Walking a Mile in Another’s Moccasins
Can you imagine having to depend on someone else for your meals, your transportation and even your personal hygiene? Most of our parents have lived their lives fiercely independent, something they prided themselves on. Now they have to depend on one of their children? What a humbling experience that must be. Working out a good schedule can make them feel they have a little more control over their day. Knowing when they will eat, get dressed, take a little nap and watch their favorite shows can make them feel a lot more secure. So include them in the planning of your schedule when at all possible. Some of our folks like to sleep in a while in the morning while others like to rise very early. Consider what is comfortable for them.

Have a Schedule But Be Flexible
Having a good schedule is like having “good bones” to your day. How you “flesh it out” from one day to the next will depend on the health of your loved one and the appointments that must be kept.

Don’t Keep It a Secret
Once you work out a good schedule, make sure to write it down and post it on the refrigerator or another conspicuous place so your loved one can see it. Also let other family members and frequent visitors know when your parent likes to take a little nap or watch that favorite television show. Should someone have to relieve you, they’ll be aware of the routine and feel more comfortable helping you.

Meals and Snacks

Planning meals and snacks can also save you a lot of time and unnecessary additional trips to the store. Go over the week’s menu with your loved one. You might find out their food choices have changed. Remember older people really enjoy something sweet each day, even if it’s yogurt, fruit or those little pudding cups. Soup is also a good choice for seniors. It’s easy to eat and comforting. Just try to choose the lower salt varieties.

The Last Important Thought
Being a caregiver has to be the hardest job on earth. I cannot stress this enough — take care of yourself! Caregivers often fall ill while caring for someone they love. You must take time to eat right, sleep right and get away from time-to-time. If you don’t, you will burn out, or get sick or both. Don’t wait until you’re at the end of your rope; find a local in-home care agency before you need them.

Full Article and Source:
Senior Care Advice: The Rhythms of a Great Day

How courts protect vulnerable Alaskans—the elderly

Justice Alaska on Hometown Alaska returns after its brief summer hiatus with a three-part look at the protective role courts play on behalf of the most vulnerable citizens—the elderly, children and new immigrants.

On this week’s program, special concerns of the elderly—from fraud protection to court-appointed guardians—will be our focus.

Older Alaskans are the fastest growing population group in the state. Practically everyone has an older relative or a neighbor aging in place. With that chapter of life comes challenges over health and medicine, safety and security, independence and even the dangers of loneliness.

Courts have a role; they can appoint a helper. This can come in the form of a limited or an expansive power of attorney; a conservator who basically pays the bills and files the taxes; or a guardian who oversees all aspects—from health and safety to finances. Guardianship is not a forever role; it can be reviewed, calibrated or reversed.

A magistrate judge working in this area said his first impression was the good work of helping those in need. But with time, he more fully realized that guardianship means eclipsing some rights—a decision the courts take very seriously.

If you have an aging relative or a friend and neighbor you worry about, bring your questions and concerns. Learn how to enlist the court’s help, and more chillingly, hear accounts of fending off too-good-to-be-true charlatans and opportunists who prey on vulnerable and lonely seniors.

Full Article & Source:
How courts protect vulnerable Alaskans—the elderly

Monday, September 19, 2016

My Mother's Nursing Home Horror

On December 2, 2014, I traveled from Connecticut to Illinois to visit my 85-year-old Mom at a nursing home in Glen Carbon, Illinois. She'd been living there near to my older sister, Belinda, since early January 2012 when my sister, in a swift kamikaze strike behind my back, took her from my care, bundled her onto a plane and spirited her into Illinois.

It had been quite a while since I'd last seen her. Thus, when I walked into the living room of the nursing home, I was absolutely appalled. Somewhat small and fragile from the start, she must have lost at least an additional 40 pounds. Not only that, she was immobilized on a full-body chair, the like of which I had never seen before.

The sight of her was such a shock that for an hour and a half I just cried, while she, despite being lost in a fog of dementia, patted my hand and tried to comfort me. When she had left Connecticut in 2012 she was a feisty, loud-mouthed, opinionated old lady; now she was a shrunken gnome tied to a chair. Within two weeks of my visit, she died.

So what happened?

My mother was abused in a way that is typical of what is going on as boomers dispose of their elderly parents.

I had a sense that the situation was going south the moment my sister put my mother onto an Alzheimer's unit at Meridian Village in Illinois. It was a locked unit.

As soon as my Mom was safely secured in the unit, my sister and her family immediately went on a lengthy vacation. My mother was stunned. My Mom thought she'd be living in my sister's basement apartment experiencing the good life. She couldn't have been more wrong. 

 How did my sister get the power to do such a thing, you might ask? Unknown to me, in the years prior to my father's death in 2009, Belinda conducted what you could only call a love-bombing campaign where she inveigled herself into all aspects of my parents' lives. Thus, when my father died, it turned out that my parents had naively appointed her as power of attorney, which gave her total authority.

Complicit with my sister, the staff at Meridian Village immediately tripled the antipsychotic medication that my mother was taking although she was a small, elderly lady of only 110 pounds.

When I found this out, I protested to Ms. Beth Sahuri, Director of Nursing, and gave her a 2011 report from the U.S. Department of health and Human Services indicating that the use of antipsychotics in the elderly with dementia can often lead to early death. She ignored it.

I agree that my Mom was an opinionated, annoying, demanding older lady who often got on my nerves. For instance, when she was living with me she'd sometimes wake me up at 6:00 in the morning and demand a home-cooked breakfast right away. At one point, she visited our neighbors to let them know that I was a mean daughter. My mother could also hit people. Still, she was so fragile that there is no way that her "hitting" could have had any more impact than a light pat on the arm.

Her medical team at the University of Connecticut didn't consider such behavior grounds to increase her medication, stating, "We feel that the patient's symptoms are adequately controlled on the current regimen and that the risk of patient fall, daytime somnolence, and possible hypotension is sufficient reason to not add any further medication."

Meridian Village, however, continued to over-medicate my Mom, and kept her in bed to the point where her feet became swollen and developed ulcers. Not only that, despite my protests, the psychiatrist at Meridian Village, Dr. Sanjay Nigam, raised my mother's medication even further, and for the remainder of her time there my mother received major doses of Seroquel, Buspar, Remeron, Trazodone, Depakote, Abilify, and Lamictal, etc.

How did the doctor justify this? He simply changed her diagnosis!

Throughout 2011, the University of CT diagnosed my mother with Mild Dementia, and Major Depressive Disorder notably without psychotic features. The Institute of Living, which did an additional evaluation, specifically stated that she had "no frank delusions." In contrast, at Meridian Village, her doctor expanded my mother's diagnosis to include borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective schizophrenia. He said my mother was hallucinating and psychotic.

How is it possible that within six months of being at Meridian Village, my mother's diagnosis changed from depression without psychotic features to depression with psychotic features?

Furthermore, how did my mother, at the advanced age of 83, suddenly develop three major diagnoses she'd never had before in her entire life?

I'm not the only person who questioned the way my mother was being over-medicated. Two consultant pharmacists filed reports for the record deploring the use of antipsychotic medication with my mother as a form of restraint. My Mom's doctor simply brushed off these precautions, stating, "The patient is psychotic."   (Click to continue)

Full Article & Source:
My Mother's Nursing Home Horror

Are U.S. Probate Courts Abusing the Elderly?

When Texas Probate Judge Gladys Burwell ordered Juliette Fairley to pay $20,000 in cash for litigation costs associated with her 85 year old father’s guardianship proceedings, she allegedly violated the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure as well as Fairley’s right to due process under the U.S. Constitution. 

The daughter of Mr. Fairley, a 22 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, didn’t have the financial means to pay the dollars that Bexar County Probate Court requested and was subsequently disqualified from being her father’s primary caregiver.

 “Guardianship is such an enormous business operation,” says Dr. Sam Sugar, a physician and founder of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship (AAAPG), a nationwide advocacy group in Florida. “It’s worth trillions of dollars nationally and is enabled by the judicial system in all 50 states because there is no federal oversight or control.” 

According to court records, two of Mr. Fairley’s Texas physicians wrote letters that were submitted to the Court, stating that he did not need medical care.

Within a month, however, while under his daughter’s care in New York, cardiologist Dr. Nicholas DuBois updated Mr. Fairley’s blood pressure medication from Lisinopril to Losartan to alleviate frequent urination, pulmonologist Dr. Diego Diaz prescribed him Fluticasone for an infection that was causing congestion, Dr. Borcich prescribed the military veteran liquid Carafate to help him eat and Dr. Natasha Nayak ordered eye testing for Mr. Fairley’s glaucoma, according to petitions filed with the Court. “My father has a history of various medical conditions which require regular monitoring and treatment,” Miss Fairley stated in an affidavit dated July 8, 2016 filed with the appellate court.

Instead of holding the Texas caregivers accountable for denying the legally blind man medical treatment, Judge Burwell allegedly isolated the father from his advocate daughter by issuing an order that limits face to face visitation to a mere four hours per month and that creates a cost barrier by requiring payment of $50 an hour to visit Mr. Fairley at Trisun Care Center’s Lakeside retirement home property in San Antonio.

Trisun Care Center management did not reply to a request for comment. “It’s a profit scam when family members are court ordered to pay to visit with their loved ones,” said Michael Larsen, author of Guardianship: How Judges & Lawyers Steal Your Money (Germain Publishing, February 3, 2016). “This has already been happening in divorce cases where children are ordered to live in foster care or group homes and it’s now happening with the elderly in probate court guardianship cases.

Times are changing, however slowly. At the federal level, a report on guardianship abuse, conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) for the Senate Select Committee on Aging, is expected to be released at the end of October 2016, according to Sugar. “The life of a court appointed guardianship depends on enslaving innocent and vulnerable elderly victims,” said Sugar.

Full Article & Source:
Are U.S. Probate Courts Abusing the Elderly?