Saturday, October 1, 2016

Today is the United Nations International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP)

The 2016 United Nations International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP) will take a stand against ageism by drawing attention to and challenging negative stereotypes and misconceptions about older persons and ageing.
Ageism is a widely prevalent and prejudicial attitude that stems from the assumption that age discrimination, and sometimes neglect and abuse of older persons is a social norm and therefore, acceptable. It is a reality in some form in all societies, and finds expression in individuals’ attitudes, institutional and policy practices, as well as media representation that devalue and exclude older persons. In 2014, Governments around the world adopted a resolution at the Economic and Social Council that recognized ageism as “the common source of, the justification for and the driving force behind age discrimination.”
Such discrimination shapes how older persons are treated and perceived by their societies, including in medical settings and workplaces, creating environments that limit older persons’ potential and impact their health and well-being. The failure to tackle ageism undermines older persons’ rights and hinders their contributions to social, economic, cultural and political life.

International Day of Older Persons

Nevada high court panel calls for guardianship system reforms

A Nevada Supreme Court commission on Thursday called for sweeping reforms of the state’s guardianship system in hopes of better protecting the state’s growing elderly and infirm population.

The 236-page report comes as a culmination of 15 months’ worth of commission meetings dating back to June 2015 and includes dozens of recommendations for changes in guardianship law, policy and court rules.

The 27-member commission was formed after a Review-Journal series highlighting the flaws and lack of oversight of the guardianship system in Clark County that watches over thousands of at-risk adults, called wards, who suffer from mental or physical incapacities.

Most notably, the report calls for all people under guardianship to have the right to an attorney, which is not currently granted in Nevada.

“I think that was a fundamental thing that was missing and could have avoided so many of the problems seen in the courts,” commission member and Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle, D-Sparks, said Thursday.

The commission was originally slated to be in place for just six months. But after several meetings that included heated and emotional speeches by victims of exploitation and their families, the commission extended its length of operation to more than a year and met 15 times. After seeing how deep the issues ran in the system, members voted to make the commission permanent.

“Some of the cases were just horrible to read, and there’s no doubt that many of these recommendations, if enacted by the Legislature, will stop some of those abuses,” said Barbara Buckley, executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, a nonprofit law firm that began handling guardianship cases earlier this year.

Buckley echoed Sprinkle’s thoughts that providing legal representation is the most impactful change recommended by the commission.

“Individuals in this situation are being stripped of their civil liberties, the right to run their life as they see fit, without anyone speaking to them or advocating on their behalf,” Buckley said.

Having an attorney from the outset of a case will prevent much of the abuse seen, including the loss of civil liberties and the financial exploitation seen in several cases, she added.

Other notable recommended law and policy changes include:

■ Providing independent investigators and accountants to help detect and prevent fraud and abuse in guardianship cases.
■ Reining in the fees charged by private guardians, who can charge upward of $250 per hour to wards, even for tasks such as making phone calls and sending emails.
■ Prohibiting guardians from selling a ward’s assets — such as their house or car — without prior court approval from a judge.
■ Implementing a guardianship Bill of Rights for wards.

In total, the report calls for 16 changes to state law and 14 statewide changes for guardianship court rules. The proposed law changes would need to be drafted into bills and approved by the Legislature in 2017.

For Buckley, the recommendations are a giant leap in helping those who can’t help themselves.

“It will put the focus back on where it should have always been: on the protection of the individual,” Buckley said.

Full Article & Source:
Nevada high court panel calls for guardianship system reforms

READ the final report

He Broke the Law to Build a Better Nursing Home

Dr. Bill Thomas

Dr. Bill Thomas, a Harvard-trained physician and a 2015 Next Avenue Influencer in Aging, has a message he’d like to share with the world: Growing older is a good thing.

A recent Washington Post story highlighted Thomas’s crusade to change attitudes about aging and encourage people to think of “post-adulthood” as a time of enrichment. “Thomas believes that Americans have bought so willingly into the idea of aging as something to be feared that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy leading to isolation, loneliness and lack of autonomy,” the article stated.

In 1991, Thomas became the medical director of a nursing home in upstate New York. He found the place, as the Post put it, “depressing, a repository for old people whose minds and bodies seemed dull and dispirited.”

Animals in a Nursing Home


So, what did Thomas do? The Washington Post explains:

“[Dr. Thomas] decided to transform the nursing home. Based on a hunch, he persuaded his staff to stock the facility with two dogs, four cats, several hens and rabbits, and 100 parakeets, along with hundreds of plants, a vegetable and flower garden, and a day-care site for staffers’ kids.

“All those animals in a nursing home broke state law, but for Thomas and his staff, it was a revelation. Caring for the plants and animals restored residents’ spirits and autonomy; many started dressing themselves, leaving their rooms and eating again. The number of prescriptions fell to half of that of a control nursing home, particularly for drugs that treat agitation. Medication costs plummeted, and so did the death rate.

“He named the approach the Eden Alternative — based on the idea that a nursing home should be less like a hospital and more like a garden — and it was replicated in hundreds of institutions in Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia as well as in all 50 U.S. states (the animal restriction in New York was voted down).”

The Not-So-Big Approach


Thomas has also pioneered small, intimate residences that he calls Green Houses, where residents have their own bedrooms and bathrooms.

The result: “Within six weeks, they had to send a truck around to pick up all the wheelchairs,” Thomas told the Post. “You know why most people [in nursing homes] use wheelchairs? Because the buildings are so damn big.”  (Click to Continue)

Full Article & Source:
He Broke the Law to Build a Better Nursing Home

This Amazing Program Pairs Horses With Seniors Who Suffer From Alzheimer’s

The horse is a powerful being. If you don’t believe this now, you will by the end of this video.

Hearts & Horses is a non-profit therapeutic riding facility nestled in the foothills of Northern Colorado. Since 1997, the facility has been changing lives for people with disabilities. In the touching video below, you’ll get a glimpse into one of the amazing programs at Hearts and Horses called “Riding In The Moment,” which serves seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Riding In The Moment helps facilitate adults and seniors facing the challenges of aging, memory loss, and age or injury-related cognitive impairments in finding joy in equine-related activities. For some, the horses provide seniors with a chance to re-experience past memories. For others, it’s a brand new adventure. You’ll meet Ray, a former cowboy and rancher with impaired vision. The moment he touches the magnificent horse with whom he’s paired, his old riding memories come flooding back. “Hi ho, Silver!” he exclaims, se if he’s never missed a beat. You’ll also meet Marti, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and had difficulty communicating her feelings to loved ones. The second she met her horse, Sugar, she burst into joyful song. “That was her way of communicating to us that she was happy,” the instructor says proudly. Marti passed away since this video was shot, but her memory lives on in the incredible moments she shared with Sugar.

In 2011, this wonderful program started a partnership with Brookdale Senior Living. Now, the team is expanding its class offerings to those coping with Dementia, Parkinson’s, and Traumatic Brain Injuries.

Full Article, Video & Source:
This Amazing Program Pairs Horses With Seniors Who Suffer From Alzheimer’s

Friday, September 30, 2016

Britney Spears Reportedly Addresses Her Conservatorship for the First Time on Upcoming Episode of ‘The Jonathan Ross Show’

We may not have seen or heard a truly in-depth, introspective interview out of Britney Spears since her 2008 documentary For The Record, but it seems as though she just opened up in a massively unexpected way while doing promo overseas.

Today (Sept. 27), the Glory pop icon filmed an interview and performance of “Make Me…” for The Jonathan Ross Show, which is set to air on October 1.

And, according to various reports from members in the audience including Noisey writer and PopCrush contributor Grace Medford, Britney publicly addressed what has become one of the most talked/thinkpieced-about subjects surrounding her since 2008 for the very first time: her conservatorship.

It happened while she was discussing the creative process behind her new album, Glory.

“Okay, so I have this conservatorship. I’ve been under this conservatorship for three years and I felt like a lot of decisions were made for me, so I wanted [Glory] to be my baby and I’ve been really strategic about it,” she told the host, according to Medford.

“She said she’s getting control on things little by little,” another audience member reports. Ross then, apparently, switched topics.

“She really looked like she wanted to talk about it but Jonathan changed the subject cuz he couldnt talk about it,” the audience member adds.

Britney was first put under a court-ordered co-conservatorship in 2008 carried out between her father, Jamie Spears, and estate lawyer, Andrew Wallet. The conservatorship has yet to be lifted, as explored further in a recent piece for the New York Times.  (Click to continue)

Full Article & Source:
Britney Spears Reportedly Addresses Her Conservatorship for the First Time on Upcoming Episode of ‘The Jonathan Ross Show’

Combatting Senior Malnutrition

By Holly Kellner Greuling RDN, National Nutritionist for the Administration on Aging

Senior Malnutrition in our country is an epidemic hiding in plain sight. It is estimated that almost 50 percent of older Americans are malnourished. During Malnutrition Awareness week let’s commit to ending this problem.

Many inter-related factors can contribute to malnutrition. Some elderly people may live in a food desert and may not be able to buy nutrient-dense food. Some may not have the stamina to cook a meal or may not want to cook because they are feeling down. Others may not eat because they do not feel well enough to eat.

Many people are surprised to hear that malnutrition in our country is usually not due to a lack of funds to purchase food. But if you know someone who struggles to eat well for financial reasons, help is available. The USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help people determine whether they qualify.

Malnutrition is defined as a nutrition imbalance that affects both overweight and underweight individuals and it sneaks up on people. Because malnutrition generally occurs over time, you cannot suspect malnutrition from just looking at someone. That is why malnutrition hides in plain sight.
Fortunately, there are changes that you can watch for that serve as clues:
  • Unintentional weight loss of 5 percent of body weight or more per month, even if overweight
  • Normally worn clothes looking loose or baggy
  • Eating less at meal time
  • Failing strength, wobbly walking or weakened hand grip
  • Changes in denture fit, or dentures that appear to be floating in the mouth
Malnutrition greatly affects one’s abilities to remain healthy, especially when faced with a serious health situation. In fact, approximately 30 percent of older people admitted to the hospital arrive malnourished and being malnourished while in the hospital will generally increase the length of stay.

The Aging Network created through the Older Americans Act has provided community-based nutrition programs that help sustain the nutritional status of older adults since 1972. The network has the knowledge to address senior malnutrition within the community and can partner effectively with local providers and health care organizations that serve older adults. And we know these programs work: In recent surveys, 76 percent of people who participate in meals programs at senior centers and in other group settings indicated that they eat healthier foods and that their health has improved as a result of the nutrition program. Eighty-four percent of the people who receive home-delivered meals indicate the same.

Want to help decrease senior malnutrition? Please consider the following:
  • If you are concerned about your nutritional status or that of a loved one:
  • If you or your loved one are hospitalized and have been diagnosed with malnutrition:
    • Ask how it will be handled after discharge.
  • If you represent a community-based health care organization, or your program is funded by the Older Americans Act:
  • If you are a health care provider:
    • Add an in-home nutritional assessment and (if necessary) nutritional programs to your services. This one service could help you locate your malnourished participants in enough time to act and prevent further decline.
  • If you are a medical provider or health care institution:
    • Establish protocols for malnutrition screening and offer nutritional interventions during hospitalization and after discharge.
We can make a difference in the fight against Senior Malnutrition. The actions you take now could decrease the incidence, emotional strain, and health care costs associated with this generally treatable condition.

Full Article & Source:
Combatting Senior Malnutrition

Indiana Woman Allegedly Kept Ailing Husband in Squalid Bedroom For Two Years, Withheld Medication

Darlene K. Dickinson
An Indiana woman allegedly kept her disabled husband prisoner in a squalid bedroom for two years, starving him and withholding his medication, PEOPLE confirms.

On Tuesday, Darlene K. Dickinson, 69, was charged with neglect of a dependent after authorities discovered her husband, Hugh Dickinson, living in "horrible" conditions, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

"There was trash and feces all over the floor and all over the furniture," the court documents state. "Including the bed that Hugh sleeps in."

Hugh, 71, was found wearing a dirty shirt and a soiled adult diaper. He appeared to weigh only 90 pounds, the documents state.

According to court documents, Hugh told authorities he had a stroke in 2000 that affected his speech. Three years ago, he had a sore on his leg that Darlene allegedly refused to clean. After about two months, Darlene allegedly finally took him to a hospital, where they amputated his leg, according to the court records.

He was allegedly kept in the room ever since, during which time Darlene allegedly refused to give him his medication, the records state. He said he allegedly only left the room once during those two years.

Neighbor Comes to the Rescue

"She's an evil, evil woman," Lisa Tiedemann, the Dickinsons' neighbor who allegedly rescued Hugh, tells PEOPLE. "You know, I'm glad they arrested her but I feel so sad for her, because what makes a person do this? I donĂ¢€™t get it. I donĂ¢€™t get it."

Tiedemann used to clean the couple's Greenwood, Indiana, home after Darlene told her she was going through chemotherapy for stage 4-breast cancer and needed help around the house.

"I was never allowed to go back toward that part of the house," Tiedemann says, adding that Darlene allegedly said her husband slept all day. "The more I questioned, the more lies she told." 

When she finally saw Hugh, Tiedemann tells PEOPLE, "He was pitiful. You could tell she had just straightened him up just enough for me."

That day, Tiedemann remembers the whole house full of flies, maggots and a stench so strong she felt sick. She alleges Darlene would keep a towel under the bedroom door to make sure the rest of the house didn't smell.

Months later, on May 19, Tiedemann knocked on Hugh's window while Darlene was getting radiation and told him she was calling authorities.

When authorities arrived, Hugh allegedly told police Darlene fed him only one meal from Meals on Wheels a day, with a warm Pepsi to drink, court documents state.

He told police, "She shut me out," adding he allegedly had to sleep under his sheets to keep flies off him.

"You would never think that she was capable of something like this," Tiedemann tells PEOPLE, adding that the couple's children did not see their parents often and didn't know about their father's living conditions.

Hugh is currently staying with his son, Tiedemann says, and enjoys watching football.

"He's doing awesome," she says. "I saw him two weeks ago and he said I was his hero but I'm not. I tell him, 'I'm your friend and I would do it again' – I would do it for anybody."

Dickinson is being held on a $2,400 bond and it is unclear at this time whether she has an attorney or not, court officials tell PEOPLE.

Full Article & Source:
Indiana Woman Allegedly Kept Ailing Husband in Squalid Bedroom For Two Years, Withheld Medication

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Coming Home?

Sandra Wood has spend the past four months recuperating from broken bones after a fall. Photo by Jeff Prince.
When Sandra Wood saw Billy Mittell earlier this month, the mute man with Down syndrome was making a sign created by putting his fingers together to fashion what looks like a roof. It’s the sign for “home.” Mittell was telling Wood he wanted her to take him back to where they lived for 30 years. It’s the same sign he was making the last time they saw each other back in January.

Mittell wasn’t born to Sandra Wood, but he latched onto her strongly once she became his legal guardian in 1986. Mittell, who spent his early years living in group homes with other mentally challenged patients, was thrilled to be taken in by Wood and given his own room in a real house. The woman he called “mother” loved him as if he were her flesh and blood.

But plenty has been broken in Wood’s life recently, most notably her heart. More literally, you can include two legs, an arm, and several teeth. It’s been a rough summer following a horrible winter.

The Fort Worth Weekly introduced Wood to readers in a 2016 cover story that described how a probate court judge removed her as Mittell’s primary caretaker (“Torn Apart,” March 16).

The 71-year-old Fort Worth resident was distraught after Adult Protect Services workers took Mittel in January, put him in a group home, and prevented Wood from seeing him. Mittell has no known relatives and had long relied on Wood for his basic needs and protection. They became a tight-knit duo that spent most days venturing out to eat lunch, playing bingo, visiting friends, feeding ducks at parks, and doing most anything else that was fun. Wood had carted Mittell to the same barber twice a month since the 1980s, and she even paid for regular manicures and pedicures for Mittell because he enjoyed them so much.

At a bingo hall on January 3, Mittel stumbled and fell in a parking lot. Wood took him to a hospital. Mittel’s injuries were not serious. And he had gone years without any health problems under Wood’s care. But a hospital nurse questioned Wood’s ability to care for Mittel. A swarm of social workers, medical professionals, and probate court representatives descended on Wood in the following days and quickly removed Wood’s guardian status. Mittel was gone.

Court officials will not discuss ongoing cases, but Aaron Shutt spoke to me about Wood and Mittell. Shutt is a board member of Guardianship Services Inc., the agency composed of case managers assigned by probate court judges to make decisions regarding a client’s housing, medical treatment, and money management.

“I understand that this is her son by all practical purposes,” Shutt said. “It is not our business to keep families apart. But our duty is to do what is best for the ward, and that is a delicate balance sometimes.”

In 2015, the Texas Legislature established the “least restrictive services” law, an act that more stridently requires guardianship to be considered as a last resort. Still, probate judges have shown in the past that they can interpret laws and dole out justice in most any manner they choose, including making decisions in closed hearings without family members being present and stripping defendants of their right to hire their own attorneys.

Wood began an immediate campaign to re-establish herself as guardian and get Mittel back home. She discovered what many people in Tarrant County have learned in the past 25 years –– local probate courts have established a network of medical care providers, attorneys, bankers, investigators, and professional guardians to take control of family situations gone awry. Many of those families say that the probate judges, however, are most interested in removing people from their families. Often times, group homes and other care facilities receive funding based on how many patients they serve. Banks are paid to watch the money. Attorneys and investigators are paid for their appointments. Many of those same people support the judges financially during elections.

Wood discovered that none of the social workers wanted to talk to her, much less tell her where Mittel had been taken. Court officials told her to lawyer up. Wood has little money to pay for a long court battle against a powerful probate judge and a well-oiled guardianship system.

Wood, overweight and diabetic, became distraught. Her appetite waned. She lost 50 pounds in three months. Her blood sugar levels fluctuated, and she became dizzy at times.

Wood called me on May 11 and said she had reached a caseworker by telephone and been given an opportunity to visit with Mittel in person at his group home later that week. Wood wanted me to go with her. I agreed but didn’t hear back from her. My phone calls to her went unanswered.

Three months passed. On August 24, I was sitting at my desk, thought of Wood, and called her cellphone number. She answered from a hospital bed, where she had been lying since the day after we had last spoken. Back in May, she had awakened, climbed out of bed, and headed toward the kitchen.

“I was walking down the hall thinking, ‘Should I make scrambled eggs or hard-boiled eggs?,’ and two days later I woke up, and I was lying on the floor,” she said.

A married couple and their two young children who live next door to her South Fort Worth home had come over to check on Wood. They found her lying unconscious.

“When I opened my eyes, all of them were standing over me,” Wood recalled. “I was bleeding from the mouth because I had knocked out a bunch of teeth. I woke up spitting teeth. The little boy picked one up and said, ‘Do you have to take this to the doctor?’ I said, ‘No, just put it in the trash.’ ”

The neighbors called an ambulance, and an EMT discovered Wood’s blood sugar was dangerously low. Doctors at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital treated her fractures, but Wood hasn’t been able to visit a dentist and still has half-broken teeth in her mouth.

Wood said her collapse is a direct result of having Mittel stripped away from her.

“I had been crying all the time and was upset all the time,” she said. “That kind of stress kills you. I miss [Mittel] so much.”

Once Wood began recovering, she resumed her calls to the probate court and its guardianship workers, trying to arrange a visit with Mittel. But her messages went unanswered, she said.

Probate court investigator Jeffery Arnier had sent a letter to Wood in May saying that “there is nothing preventing you from visiting [Mittel] and being a part of his life.” Arnier closed the letter by writing, “To my understanding, Guardianship Services, Inc. has not restricted you from access to [Mittel] and continuing to be a part of his life.”

Wood, however, couldn’t get anyone at Guardianship Services to talk to her, other than when she was told to get a lawyer.

I visited Wood at her hospital room on August 26 and found her in good spirits despite being confined to a wheelchair. She had lost another 50 pounds on top of the previous 50 pounds and looked like a different person than she was nine months ago when Mittel was removed from her home.

“Wow, you’ve lost weight,” I said.

“Well, that’s one way to lose it,” she said.

A court representative had told Wood that someone with the group home would be bringing Mittel for a visit on September 2 at Renaissance Park Multi-Care Center, where Wood was recuperating in west Fort Worth. Wood, however, was not given a specific time when Mittel would arrive. I wanted to document the reunion with pictures and a story and asked Wood to call me as soon as Mittel arrived. I could drive to Renaissance within about 20 minutes.

Wood called that afternoon to say Mittel had just arrived and for me to come quickly. I jumped in my truck and drove straight there. But by the time I arrived, the group home leader had already taken Mittel away. The visit had been a short one.

“They came in and weren’t here 20 minutes,” she said.

Scott Gordon, a patient at Renaissance, was sitting in the lobby and described seeing the reunion between Mittel and Wood. Many of the Renaissance residents came out of their rooms to see the reunion, he said, because everyone had heard Wood talking about the reunion for days.

“He went right up to her and hugged her,” Gordon said. “He was excited to see her. You can see the connection. You can’t doubt it. It is very evident that he loves Sandy.”

Mittel was unhappy when the reunion was cut short.

“He didn’t want to leave,” Gordon said.

Wood hated to see him go. But she was thrilled at the same time. She had finally been able to hug, squeeze, and talk to Mittel for the first time since January.

Wood is recuperating at home now and requesting another visit from Mittell.

Shutt, the guardianship board member, doesn’t think that will be a problem.

“It is my understanding that they were setting up a schedule whereby there could be regular visits between” Wood and Mittell, he said.

“The intent of Guardianship Services is to allow access and visitation.”

Wood, though, wants more than visitation. She is trying to raise money to hire an attorney to become re-established as Mittel’s guardian. She wants Mittel to move back into his room, which is still furnished and decorated like it was on the day that social workers took him away.

“He wants to be with me,” Wood said.

He wants to be “home.”

Full Article & Source:
Coming Home?

Did Wells Fargo target seniors with its bogus-account scheme?

Wanita Holmes
Wells Fargo may have gone out if its way to take senior citizens to the cleaners when the bank’s workers fraudulently opened as many as 2 million accounts without customers’ permission.

At least that’s the suspicion of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

They’ve called upon the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to determine whether seniors in particular were preyed upon because older Wells Fargo customers may have been more susceptible to manipulation or likely visited branches more frequently than tech-savvy younger people who prefer online banking.

“As Wells Fargo begins the long process of identifying and making restitution to the consumers who were defrauded, I want to ensure that seniors — who are often the targets of fraud and who also can be harder to find and make whole — are adequately protected,” McCaskill said.

She and Collins said in a letter to CFPB Director Richard Cordray that they’re concerned about “the impact this activity has had on our nation’s senior population, especially those who do not conduct their financial business on the Internet.”

Hancock Park resident Wanita Holmes, 87, says what happened to her validates the senators’ interest.

She’s been a Wells Fargo customer since her old Crocker National Bank account was transferred when Wells acquired Crocker in 1986. Holmes told me she was perfectly happy with the service she received after the merger.  (Click to continue)

Full Article, Video & Source:
Did Wells Fargo target seniors with its bogus-account scheme?

Elderly Wandering: Tips for Caregivers on Prevention and Safety

Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) and Wandering

As life expectancy increases in the US, due in one way or another to medical advances and changes in health care, so does the population of elderly or people over the age of 60. This in turn leads to an increase the number of people with age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.  Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US and it is estimated that 1 in 3 seniors will die from Alzheimer’s or another dementia.1

Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, other dementia-related diseases/disorders may lead to wandering as well, such as vascular dementia (post-stroke), Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, etc.  It is estimated that 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and the numbers are expected to triple in the coming years.  6 out of 10 of these individuals will wander at some point.2  The patient may simply be wandering aimlessly or trying to achieve an objective such as finding a bathroom or home. In either case, the patient could wander by walking, driving, or by some other means into dangerous situations.

Anyone who has memory problems and is able to walk is at risk for wandering.  Wandering, in some cases, could be a positive exercise for the elderly.  It provides movement, exercise, sensory stimulation or maybe even a release of anxiety or stress as long as it is done in a safe environment and some precautions are taken.  But in some cases it is, what some authors refer to as “critical wandering,” or any wandering event in which an elder leaves a home or institution and is unaware of their surroundings.  This exposes the person to potential dangers such as falling, traffic accidents, and/or weather conditions (exposure).34 Whatever the case may be, any wandering event is a stressful burden on the caregiver that has the potential to be prevented.

Reasons for Wandering5

Wandering is a complex behavior and there may be many different reasons why a person may wander. For the caregiver, it could be helpful to keep a journal of these occurrences to determine what the individual is trying to achieve or what may trigger the wandering event. This may help in the future to alleviate stress and frustration that may lead to further events. Some of these reasons may include:
  • Continuing a habit – Whether it be walking to the bus, work, or simply a person that had enjoyed walking on a daily basis, it is natural the person would want to continue a repetitive behavior.
  • Relieving boredom – People with dementia have an underlying anxiety and restlessness and need to keep mentally engaged and physically active.
  • Using up energy – Some individuals, if kept inactive, may have some stored or unspent energy feel the need for more exercise.
  • Relieving pain and discomfort – People often get up and walk around to ease pain or relieve discomfort. They may even possibly want to escape from the pain.
  • Feeling lost – If a person recently moved home from the hospital or a care facility or is moving in to a new center, they may feel unsure of their surroundings.  This may lead to some confusion and cause the person to feel lost and need extra help in finding their way about.
  • Memory loss – Short-term memory loss is associated with dementia and lead a person to become confused. They may have a purpose in mind when they begin a particular task and later forget the particular goal they had in mind.  Alternatively, they may forget that their caregiver has walked away for a short time and wander to look for them.
  • Searching for the past – Another possibility is that as the individual’s dementia progresses they may attempt to find someone or something related to their past. It is important to recognize these feelings and help to meet their emotional needs.
Other reasons for wandering include: physical needs such as using the bathroom or other basic needs, social interactions, insomnia or restlessness due to their condition or even some medications, seeking fulfillment of tasks they have routinely done in the past and feel the need to continue them, or possibly getting confused about the time of day and wake in the middle of the night believing it to be time to get ready for the next day.

Collectively, it’s important to realize that individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases are interested in retaining their independence, and it’s important to encourage them to do so.  Of course, some degree of risk is inevitable.  It is important as a caregiver to maintain the quality of life as long as possible, keeping in mind the person’s environment and safety in order to help them cope with the situation and the possible reasons they wander.

Tips for Caregivers on Wandering and Prevention

The National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging gives these suggestions for steps to take BEFORE the person with Alzheimer’s disease wanders:6
  • Make sure the person carries some kind of ID or wears a medical bracelet. If the person gets lost and can’t communicate clearly, an ID will let others know about his or her illness. It also shows where the person lives.
  • Consider enrolling the person in the MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® Program (see or call 1-888-572-8566 to find the program in your area).
  • Let neighbors and the local police know that the person with Alzheimer’s tends to wander. Ask them to alert you immediately if the person is seen alone and on the move.
  • Place labels in garments to aid in identification.
  • Keep an article of the person’s worn, unwashed clothing in a plastic bag to aid in finding him or her with the use of dogs.
  • Keep a recent photograph or video recording of the person to help police if he or she becomes lost.
There are instances where even people that are considered to be at high-risk of wandering will be left unattended and they may get up and wander.  These are some tips to help PREVENT the person with Alzheimer’s from wandering away from home:
  • Keep doors locked. Consider a keyed deadbolt, or add another lock placed up high or down low on the door. If the person can open a lock, you may need to get a new latch or lock.*
  • Use loosely fitting doorknob covers so that the cover turns instead of the actual knob.*
  • Place STOP, DO NOT ENTER, or CLOSED signs on doors.
  • Divert the attention of the person with Alzheimer’s disease away from using the door by placing small scenic posters on the door; placing removable gates, curtains, or brightly colored streamers across the door; or wallpapering the door to match any adjoining walls.
  • Install safety devices found in hardware stores to limit how much windows can be opened.
  • Install an “announcing system” that chimes when the door opens.
  • Secure the yard with fencing and a locked gate.
  • Keep shoes, keys, suitcases, coats, hats, and other signs of departure out of sight.
  • Do not leave a person with Alzheimer’s who has a history of wandering unattended.
* Due to the potential hazard they could cause if an emergency exit is needed, locked doors and doorknob covers should be used only when a caregiver is present.

Programs to Help the Elderly That Have Gone Missing

There are several programs in place to aid in locating individuals who wander, each of which have their pros and cons. It is difficult to research the issue because, as the authors routinely state, it is an area that is understudied. However, studies that have taken place note that individuals found in the first 24 hours usually return unharmed. Most missing person reports happen only after the 24 hour window has passed.  They also note that there is a large percentage of individuals found after 24 hours who have died or require immediate medical attention once found due to falls or some other type of harm.

Safe Return +Medic Alert ( –  Safe Return, established by the Alzheimer’s Association in 1993, is a 24 hour nationwide emergency response system for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.  The emergency responders maintain a database of information on these individuals who wear a MedicAlert + Safe Return ID bracelet. When found, citizens and emergency personnel can contact the toll-free number (1.800.625.3780) to report it. MedicAlert + Safe Return will in turn contact the listed contacts as well as provide any medical history if required in order to facilitate a safe return home.

Project Lifesaver International (PLI) ( – PLI is a non-profit organization with a mission to “provide police, fire/rescue and other first responders with a comprehensive program including equipment and training to quickly locate and rescue “at risk” individuals with cognitive disorders who are at constant risk to the life threatening behavior of wandering including those with Alzheimer’s disease, Autism, and Down Syndrome. Project Lifesaver has over 1,300 participating agencies throughout 47 states in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.”7

Silver Alert – Modeled after the AMBER Alert program, the Silver Alert relies on law enforcement, the media (radio and television broadcasts), and highway signs to inform the public of information regarding missing elders and others who are cognitively impaired. Although a national legislation has yet to be put into place, several congressional members have introduced a National Silver Alert Act since 2008.  32 states already have Silver Alert programs in place along with several others that have legislation pending.  Unlike Safe Return and PLI, the Silver Alert is administered at the state level and Individual registration is not required (except in Texas).  People typically are required to meet certain criteria (age and cognitive function) in order to activate an alert. For more information, check with your individual state organizations on locating missing elders.

It is not difficult to see that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related diseases do present a problem as our older population grows in this and other countries. Issues concerning wandering and safe return is a subject that is understudied. It is important to mention that not one program is fool-proof and each has its pros and cons and each vary in costs depending on the type of coverage and response system. Its best to evaluate the programs and determine what works best for the caregiver and loved one along with assessing the individual’s tendency to wander and cognitive ability.

Full Article & Source:
Elderly Wandering: Tips for Caregivers on Prevention and Safety

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Judge Blocks Effort To Remove Kids From Nursing Homes

A federal judge in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. has tossed out of court a lawsuit filed three years ago by the U.S. Department of Justice that claimed Florida health administrators had acted with “deliberate indifference to the suffering” of children with disabilities who were being warehoused in nursing homes for lack of more appropriate accommodations with family members or in the community.

U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch never tackled the substantive dispute between federal civil rights lawyers and state health regulators. Rather, Zloch concluded the Justice Department lacked “standing” to sue the state. Zloch’s order said that, when Congress passed the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, it did not grant the Justice Department authority to sue states or other “public entities” that it believes are violating the legislation.

Zloch’s order effectively guts a years-long effort by the DOJ and Florida civil rights attorneys to remove children with severe disabilities from nursing homes, where advocates claimed — and a good bit of the state’s own inspections showed — youngsters were being segregated with little access to education, socialization or family. Zloch neutered a similar lawsuit filed in 2012 by a Miami civil rights attorney when he declined to certify that children in nursing homes represented a “class.”

In an email, a publicist for the Tallahassee lawyers who represented Florida health regulators said Florida was the only state that “refused” to settle a civil rights suit claiming children with disabilities in institutions were being discriminated against. “A handful of states have settled such suits,” the statement said.

Matthew Dietz, the Miami lawyer whose suit prompted the DOJ to intervene, said in an email that Zloch’s order had “eviscerated 26 years of federal enforcement” of laws designed to end discrimination against people with disabilities by states or municipalities. He said hundreds of youngsters with disabilities now will either die, or grow up, in nursing homes along with frail elders.

“This renders the rights of these kids with disabilities a sham.”

In his order, Zloch said that the intent of the ADA was to “provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.”

But, the judge added, the portion of the law pertaining to other governments never explicitly granted the Justice Department the authority to sue other governments. Without such a mandate, Zloch wrote, the DOJ overstepped its bounds when it sued the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, and other departments.

Zloch dismissed a host of arguments from the Justice Department, including its contention that affirming the DOJ’s lack of authority to sue states and municipalities will leave such governments free to openly discriminate. “Not so,” Zloch wrote. Private parties still may sue governments, making each of them a “private attorney general,” Zloch wrote.

Full Article & Source:
Judge Blocks Effort To Remove Kids From Nursing Homes

Two Summerville Men Face Felony Charges

Two Summerville men face felony charges for swindling elderly residents for money, according to Chattooga County Sheriff Mark Schrader.

After receiving numerous complaints, investigators discovered the two men allegedly targeted the elderly. Now both Christopher Jay Caldwell, 49, and Scotty Matthew Caldwell, 36, face allegations that they exploited the elderly for money.

The two men are accused of offering to cut shrubs or trees for elderly homeowners for a fee. Often the two Caldwells would ask for part of the money upfront but then never returned to complete the task.

"We received many complaints they were getting money and not returning to do the job. It seemed like all the victims were over 65 years old," Sheriff Mark Schrader said.

The sheriff said some of the elderly victims would not report being scammed. Sometimes a family member would discover the Caldwells' scheme and report it, the sheriff said.

"Most of it was uncovered by family members," Schrader said.

Reports about the Caldwells' scheme came from residents across the county. In June, an 83-year-old man on Scoggins Trail was approached by Christopher Caldwell and asked to do yard work.

"The work has never been performed. [Chris] has two prior theft convictions," a warrant states.

Christopher Caldwell disputes the charges. He says the sheriff and investigators have it wrong. The culprit is Scotty, according to Christopher.

Scotty is accused of offering to cut trees and brush for an elderly man on Dover's Cut Road, Lyerly. That happened in October 2015 and the work hasn't been performed.

"The work still has not been performed after being contacted multiple times. [Scotty] has two prior theft convictions, this being his third offense," a warrant states.

"I don't know how they would identify who to target, but they would approach the person and ask to do some yard work," Sheriff Schrader said.

Christopher was charged with three counts of exploitation and intimidation of disabled or elder adult and three charges of theft by deception.

Scotty was charged with exploitation and intimidation of disabled or elder adult and theft by deception, according to jail reports.

Full Article & Source:
Two Summerville Men Face Felony Charges

Woman sentenced for exploiting elderly man

Full Article & Source:
Woman sentenced for exploiting elderly man

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Elderly couple scammed out of home by grandson gives up fight

LOS ANGELES -- An elderly couple has given up fighting an eviction from the home they've lived in for nearly six decades after their grandson allegedly mortgaged it away and sold it without their knowledge.

Helen and Hank Kawecki are scheduled to leave their home this Saturday.

The Kaweckis, both in their late 80s, have been facing eviction for months after they signed over the deed to the home to their grandson, who allegedly mortgaged the property to the maximum with three loans and defaulted on all of them, the couple said.

The relative also allegedly sold the house without their knowledge.

He persuaded his grandparents to sign the deed over, promising he would take care of them financially, according to a GoFundMe page.

"It's hard, very hard, to leave this. But we don't have any choice. And I didn't ever think my grandson would ever do this to me. Ever," said Helen Kawecki.

The couple will move in to a mobile home in a senior living community, thanks to the generosity of the community and neighbors who helped raise nearly $125,000 on their behalf.

Doug and Linda Emerson, who live across the street from the Kaweckis, created the fundraising page. They first learned of the alleged fraud after a real estate agent introduced her clients to them as the soon-to-be residents of the Kaweckis' house, The Star reported back in July.

That prompted Doug Emerson -- who knew the couple planned to live in their house for the rest of their lives -- to investigate online.

After learning the loans against the home were in default, and knowing that the couple had no money and nowhere else to go, the Emersons helped the couple hire a lawyer to fight back.

The attorney tried to halt the sale, but "the lenders went through the foreclosure process and that could not be stopped," Doug Emerson wrote on the fundraising page.

Although they were given a temporary reprieve, the couple has been evicted from their home and has until Sept. 27 to move out, according to an update on the page.

The Kaweckis are terrified of what the future holds, but are grateful they have some place to go.

"Not used to this," said Hank Kawecki. "I don't know what to say anymore. It's a hard thing."

Local law enforcement and the Ventura County District Attorney's Office have investigated the case, according to the GoFund Me page. KTLA reports that it was not immediately known whether the grandson would face any charges.

The Kaweckis have said they are sharing their story in the hopes that it serves as a warning to other families.

Full Article & Source:
Elderly couple scammed out of home by grandson gives up fight

Judiciary Committee Advances Grassley-Blumenthal Bill to Curb Crimes Targeting Seniors - Sep 17,2016 - Judiciary Committee Advances Grassley-Blumenthal Bill to Curb Crimes Targeting Seniors

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation to help reduce crimes against America’s seniors through expanded education, prevention and prosecution tools. The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, which was introduced by Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, passed the committee by a voice vote without objection.

“Crimes targeting America’s senior citizens are widespread and have impacted families across the country including Iowa. As more and more Americans age and become targets of these crimes, law enforcement, seniors and their caregivers must be better equipped to prevent and respond. The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act takes meaningful steps to deter criminals seeking to exploit seniors and hold accountable those who do,” Grassley said.

“The unconscionable scourge of elder abuse is all too common in our country. It’s an issue that notably hit home in Connecticut with the tragic case of Purple Heart recipient Robert Matava. This national hero deserved the utmost care during his senior years, but instead he was defrauded by those he trusted most. Our bipartisan legislation, a portion of which is named in Matava’s honor, is now one step closer to raising awareness, improving prevention, and increasing prosecution in order to combat this shameless crime,” Blumenthal said.

The bill (S. 3270) expands data collection and information sharing to better prevent and respond to all forms of elder abuse and exploitation, including financial crimes against seniors.  Specifically, the bill increases training for federal investigators and prosecutors and calls for the designation of at least one prosecutor in each judicial district who will be tasked with handling cases of elder abuse.  It also ensures that the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Justice Department will both have an elder justice coordinator.  Further, the bill improves information sharing among government agencies and between federal, state and local authorities to develop best practices in the fight against elder financial exploitation.  Finally, the bill increases penalties for perpetrators of such crimes – including mandatory forfeiture – to deter future offences.

The bipartisan 3,000-member Elder Justice Coalition called the bill, “one of the most comprehensive and meaningful bills ever developed to address the rapidly increasing problem of elder financial abuse in America.” The bill also has the support of the Alzheimer’s Association, the National District Attorneys Association,  Consumers Union, SIFMA, the 60 Plus Association, Leading Age, and the National Center for Victims of Crime, as well as the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators.

Along with Grassley and Blumenthal, the bill is cosponsored by Senators, John Cornyn (R-Texas), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

Earlier this year, Grassley chaired a Judiciary Committee hearing to examine how best to protect older Americans from financial abuse. Grassley also launched several inquiries to combat crimes against seniors and worked to raise greater aware for such issues facing seniors. (Click to continue)

Full Article & Source:
Judiciary Committee Advances Grassley-Blumenthal Bill to Curb Crimes Targeting Seniors

‘Born This Way’ Scores Emmy Win

A reality show following the lives of seven young adults with developmental disabilities has come out on top, winning an Emmy for outstanding unstructured reality program.

The A&E hit “Born This Way” took home the prize Sunday night at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.

The show focuses on the everyday experiences of its stars, all of whom have Down syndrome, following them through the ups and downs of dating, employment and the quest for independence.

“Born This Way” debuted late last year and is already in the midst of its second season after seeing viewership increase 67 percent over the course of its initial six-episode run.

The documentary series bested a field of nominees that included Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” HBO’s “Project Greenlight” and CNN’s “United Shades of America,” among others, for the award.

“Born This Way” also received two nominations for outstanding picture editing for reality programming, but did not win in that category.

The reality programming awards were among several creative arts Emmys given out over the weekend ahead of the main Emmys, which will take place this coming Sunday. A broadcast of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards will air Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on FXX.

“Born This Way” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on A&E.

Full Article & Source:
‘Born This Way’ Scores Emmy Win

Monday, September 26, 2016

Warning Signs of Elder Care Abuse

Every year hundreds of thousands of older adults are abused, neglected or exploited.

Sadly, for every report of elder abuse, it is estimated that another 23 cases go unreported. Cases are unreported for a variety of reasons – the victim may be unable or unwilling to communicate the abuse, the victim may feel ashamed, or they may not have a trusted person to confide in.

For the younger generations, it is important to know and understand the definition of elder abuse, the warning signs, and what to do if abuse is suspected.

In general, elder abuse is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.   Most elder care abuse takes place where the seniors live – so at home at the hands of relatives or in an institutional setting at the hands of facility employees.  All 50 states have some form of elder abuse prevention laws, however the definitions and laws vary greatly by state.

What is elder abuse?

In broad terms, it can be defined as:
  • Physical Abuse—inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior, e.g. slapping, bruising, or restraining by physical or chemical means.
  • Sexual Abuse—non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
  • Neglect—the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder.
  • Financial Exploitation—the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.
  • Emotional Abuse—inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts, e.g. humiliating, intimidating, or threatening.
  • Abandonment—desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
  • Self-neglect—characterized as the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks and that such failure threatens his/her own health or safety.One sign doesn’t necessarily mean abuse is occurring, but advocates should take notice of:
What are the signs?
  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
  • Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs. You may be the only advocate for the senior victim. It is important to remember it is not your responsibility to prove abuse – it is only your responsibility to report any suspicious activity.
The most important thing to remember is Be Alert! Oftentimes the suffering is done in silence. If you notice changes in a senior’s behavior or personality, you should question what is going on. If you suspect abuse, file a complaint and have the abuse investigated.

You may be the only advocate for the senior victim. It is important to remember it is not your responsibility to prove abuse – it is only your responsibility to report any suspicious activity.

Full Article & Source:
Warning Signs of Elder Care Abuse

Elderly Calhoun Couple Found Guilty of Scamming Rome Seniors out of Thousands

Annie Mae Carden & Glen Carden
A Gordon County elderly couple, Glenn Carden, 82, and his wife Annie Mae Carden, 79, were found guilty Tuesday in Floyd County of scamming two elderly people out of $140,000.

They were both found guilty of two counts of felony theft by taking and two counts of felony exploitation of an elder person.

Sentencing will be scheduled for a later date.

The couple ran a hardware store in downtown Calhoun.

An elderly Calhoun couple is on trial in Floyd County for scamming two Floyd County residents out of over $140,000. Glenn Carden, 82, and his wife Annie Mae Carden, 79, had been previously told to stop soliciting money for a made up lawsuit in Gordon County before they came to Floyd to do the same thing.

They were charged in Floyd County with two counts of theft by taking and two counts of exploitation of elder persons. They are also facing 67 counts of theft by taking in Gordon County.

Reports stated that the Cardens told people they were assisting another person in paying for a personal injury lawsuit against Budweiser.  They told the victims that they would pay them back with interest, but never did so.  They borrowed the money from elderly people in Rome back in August 2012 and again on January 2014.

The Carden’s lawyer argued that there was no disputing they owed money, but added that their case should be in civil court not criminal court.
Full Article & Source:
Elderly Calhoun Couple Found Guilty of Scamming Rome Seniors out of Thousands

Sunday, September 25, 2016

RJ captures top honors at Nevada Press Awards

The Las Vegas Review-Journal raked in 20 first-place awards Saturday at the Nevada Press Association’s annual banquet honoring the best journalism in the state, including top nods for community service and freedom of the press.

The awards were presented at the CasaBlanca in Mesquite.

Reporter Colton Lochhead claimed the community service award for a series of stories that unveiled abuses and a lack of oversight within a Clark County program meant to help some of Southern Nevada’s most vulnerable residents — the old, alone and infirm. Lochhead’s investigation led to the formation of a Nevada Supreme Court commission and a multiagency law enforcement task force to oversee the county’s troubled guardianship program.

“This dogged investigation into how a government program intended to help residents in need went wrong left no stone unturned,” contest judges wrote. “Lochhead’s reporting shined light onto a dark corner of the community and led to reforms that will likely save countless families from the problems that arose with guardianships in Clark County.”

The RJ received the freedom of the press award “for the extent of its doggedness” covering “a stunning (and worrisome) number of issues and legal cases” involving government secrecy and the denial of access to public information, contest judges wrote.

“The Review-Journal’s victories in these two categories are especially gratifying because of the public impact of our work,” Managing Editor Glenn Cook said. “We take our watchdog role seriously. We fought government wrongs and made sure institutions were held accountable for their abuses and failures.

“The number of RJ wins in other categories perfectly reflects the caliber of talent in our newsroom,” Cook said.

RJ photographer Erik Verduzco won Photo of the Year for his photograph titled “Campaign baby,” which captured a man using his cellphone to snap a picture of an infant at a rally for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Other photography wins included best feature photo by Chase Stevens, best illustrated photo by Jeff Scheid and best sports photo by Stevens.

Rick Velotta won Best Business Story for his reporting on a rash of unusual flight incidents and emergency landings by Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air, Christopher Lawrence took first place in critical writing for “strong, colorful opinions,” and Matthew Crowley won the best nonstaff story.

Steve Sebelius was awarded first place for editorial writing. Judges credited Sebelius for “strong language and careful arguments that are well-thought-out with humor, logic and a biting tongue.”

The RJ’s sports desk received top honors in two categories. Steve Carp took first place for Best Sports Story for marking the 25th anniversary of the UNLV basketball team’s Final Four upset loss to Duke, and Ed Graney was named the state’s top sports columnist.

The newspaper’s website,, was named the state’s best news website. And its special publication, “One Sure Bet: Death in Las Vegas” was awarded first place in the special section category. The 35-page section examined the ways that Las Vegans put their unique stamp on death.

John L. Smith, a longtime columnist for the Review-Journal, was inducted to the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame.

The RJ’s holiday guide won first place in the special section category for advertising.

Former RJ reporter Bethany Barnes was named the state’s Outstanding Journalist, and former gaming reporter Howard Stutz took first place in Best Local Column. Kristen DeSilva won best platform writing for her online “Knowing Vegas” series. And former RJ staffer Steve Bornfeld took first place in both headline writing and feature writing. The RJ swept the headline writing and feature writing categories, with Crowley and George Riggle taking second and third, respectively, in headline writing, and John Przybys and Keith Rogers taking second and third in feature writing, respectively.


Best Feature Photo: First place, Chase Stevens

Best Illustrated Photo: First place, Jeff Scheid

Freedom of the Press: First place, Las Vegas Review-Journal staff

Best Special Section (Editorial): First place, Review-Journal staff, “One Sure Bet: Death in Las Vegas.”

Best Nonstaff Story: First place, Matthew Crowley

Best Breaking News Reporting: Second place, Las Vegas Review-Journal staff

Best Special Section or Campaign (Advertising): First place, advertising sales staff; second place, advertising sales staff

Best Business Story: First place, Richard N. Velotta

Best Website: First place,

General Excellence: Second place, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Best Sports Story: First place, Steve Carp

Best Explanatory Journalism: Third place, Jennifer Robison

Best Critical Writing: First place, Christopher Lawrence

Best Critical Writing: Third place, Heidi Knapp Rinella

Best Sports Column: First place, Ed Graney

Best Editorial Page: Second place, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Photo of the Year: Erik Verduzco, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Best Multiple Photo Essay: Third place, Chase Stevens

Best Sports Photo: First place, Chase Stevens

Best Headline Writing: First place, Steve Bornfeld; second place, Matthew Crowley; third place, George Riggle

Best Entertainment Writing: Second place, Christopher Lawrence; third Place, Carol Cling

Community Service: First place, Colton Lochhead

Best Platform Writing: First place, Kristen DeSilva

Best Feature Writing: First place, Steve Bornfeld; second place, John Przybys; third place, Keith Rogers

Outstanding Journalist: Bethany Barnes, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Best Editorial Writing: First place, Steve Sebelius

Best Local Nonstaff Column: Second place, Jane Ann Morrison

Best Local Column: First place, Howard Stutz

Best Digital Storytelling: Third place, Rachel Aston

Full Article & Source:
RJ captures top honors at Nevada Press Awards

A Salute to America’s Elder Care Workers

Back in April, at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., a motley group of social scientists, researchers, artists and activists convened to discuss the value of the work of our nation’s “maintainers.” They’re the unheralded bunch who don’t get showered with attention as innovators (think Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg) do.

To make his point, Lee Vinsel, a conference organizer and an assistant professor at Stevens, argued that the world needs more Mary Poppins. The famed nanny’s story, Vinsel believes, “asserts that the most important thing in life is an ethics of care, that we can only see the world with clear eyes if we choose to value one another, and that an essential way of doing this is by undertaking underappreciated and undervalued mundane, ordinary labor.”

The ‘Maintainers’ Who Keep People Running

With Labor Day still fresh in our memory, I think we should all show respect and admiration for a particular group of “maintainers ”: direct-care workers, known by an array of occupational titles including home care workers, nursing assistants, attendants, and direct-support professionals. Unlike some maintainers who keep our bridges operating and our trains running, these maintainers keep people “running.”

The “maintenance” that direct-care workers provide enables family members to go to work each day knowing their loved ones are cared for. 

Direct-care workers provide the bulk of all paid, hands-on care to those who need assistance due to age or disability. They are the backbone of our nation’s elder care system — helping the oldest Americans bathe, eat, get dressed, remember their medications, get to and from doctors’ appointments and participate in meaningful social engagement. The work they do is essential. Yet even more than other “maintainers” who make technology or government work, they are often invisible and grossly underappreciated.

Home care workers make just over $10 an hour, on average, and work largely part-time, unpredictable schedules. Their annual income is often barely more than $13,000; one in four live below the federal poverty line.

The situation is slightly better for nursing assistants in nursing homes — median wage: over $12 per hour. Yet they suffer injuries at more than three times the rate of the typical American worker. Turnover in this industry is consistently high, too. More than half of the 600,000 nursing assistants leave their jobs every year. Due to high vacancies, nursing homes are short-staffed, workers are overextended and patients may not get the care they need.

Reasons for Their Poor Job Quality

You can point to a host of reasons for such poor job quality: a dysfunctional long-term care financing system, jobs that have historically been associated with unpaid “women’s work,” marginalization of the people who need long-term care and political disenfranchisement of low-income workers, to name a few. (See this recent Next Avenue article for more on this — America’s hidden long-term care problem.)

But like other maintainers, and perhaps even more so, the labor of direct-care workers is mundane and ordinary. They help with some of the most basic activities we all take for granted every day: eating, bathing and sleeping. Basic, yes, but without being able to do these tasks, we fail to thrive, to feel human, to exist.

What They Do for The Rest of Us

The “maintenance” that direct-care workers provide enables family members to go to work each day knowing their loved ones are cared for. A direct-care worker can be the difference between living well, remaining part of a community and being confined — whether in an airless room, a chair or a hospital bed.

In some cases, her work (and it’s generally a “her”) can be the difference between life and death. This is as primal and perhaps as mundane as it gets, but arguably the most important thing we have: the ethics of care.

How to Honor These Unheralded Workers

So let’s tell more stories about these heroic workers and elevate them in our public discourse.

Let’s rethink why we so easily accept direct-care workers living in poverty, despite their giving so much of themselves to maintain the lives of some of the most vulnerable Americans.

Let’s invest our public resources in maintaining people and not just things, ensuring that care is affordable and that those who provide care are paid for the value they bring to our lives.

We must recognize that without direct-care workers and other maintainers, we will not survive, but with an economy that puts value on this type of labor we will thrive.

Full Article & Source:
A Salute to America’s Elder Care Workers

Jewish Home Family chief named to state task force on elder abuse

Carol Silver Elliott
Carol Silver Elliott, president and CEO of the Jewish Home Family, has been appointed to the New Jersey Task Force on Abuse of Persons Who Are Elderly or Disabled. 

Ms. Silver Elliott, named to the post by Governor Chris Christie, looks forward to continuing to be active in promoting awareness of elder abuse and the importance of providing shelters for victims.

The Jewish Home Family opened New Jersey’s first elder abuse shelter in 2015, under Ms. Silver Elliott’s leadership. SeniorHaven for Elder Abuse Prevention, in addition to offering 90 to 120 days of shelter to victims of elder abuse, has convened professionals from various sectors to educate others on the signs of abuse and best practices to help victims seek shelter.

SeniorHaven is one of 14 shelters nationwide and is part of the SPRiNG Alliance, a network of regional elder abuse shelters with close working relationships.

“Elder abuse is an under-recognized and under-reported problem in our society and it effects millions every year,” Ms. Silver Elliott said. “To be able to help the most vulnerable, to work to assure that every individual has the ability to live a life that is safe and dignified is a vital effort. It is truly wonderful that the state of New Jersey is taking this important leadership step, and I am honored to be a part of it.”

For information on SeniorHaven or elder abuse, or to bring a speaker free of charge to address any audience, email or call (855) 455-0555.

Full Article & Source:
Jewish Home Family chief named to state task force on elder abuse