Saturday, September 2, 2017

This is what happened when a lonely 90-year-old wrote a letter to a stranger

This letter came to Marleen Brooks from a 90-year-old neighbor in search of a friend (Marleen Brooks)
This past spring, Marleen Brooks, a 37-year-old property manager in the small town of Park Hills, Mo., came home to find a handwritten letter from a 90-year-old woman she had never met.
It was just a few lines:

Would you consider to become my friend. I'm 90 years old — live alone and all my friends have passed away. I am so lonesome and scared. Please — I pray for some one.

As Brooks read the letter, her eyes teared up. Her own grandmother, who had raised her, had died alone in hospice, which still bothered her. The letter-writer, Wanda Mills, had left an address — a house across the street and a couple of doors down. "I literally, honestly didn't know anybody lived there," said Brooks, who has lived on the street for a year and a half.

The next day, she and a friend brought cupcakes to Mills.

"She was excited that we came over there, and we sat and talked for about an hour," Brooks recalled. Mills, who has trouble walking and uses oxygen, told her that she hadn't left her house in seven years and relies on caregivers who come daily. But they weren't the same as having friends.

Mills had lived in the house for 51 years. Her husband and sister had died, as had one of her sons. Another son lived out of state. It turned out that a third son lived next door but didn't visit often, she told Brooks.

Loneliness and isolation have been shown to have detrimental effects on health, leaving people more vulnerable to infection, cognitive decline and depression. An AARP survey found more than one third of older Americans to be lonely.

Brooks wondered how many others out there were living like Mills, unknown to their neighbors. She took a picture of the letter and posted it on Facebook, urging people to make sure to check on their neighbors  and inviting them to send letters to Mills, and opened a post office box for her.

Marleen Brooks visits Wanda Mills in the nursing home where she moved recently (James Brooks)
Then she had an idea: Why not invite people to write to more people than just Mills? In late April, she started a Facebook group called Pen Pals for Seniors, offering to match participants with older people who want to correspond by mail.

In a little more than a month, around 6,000 people had responded — far more than she had older people for them to write to. "We're still actively trying to find seniors," she said, adding that she has posted fliers and sent letters to churches, senior centers, home health agencies  and nursing homes to let them know about the service. "That's been the hardest part."

So far, around 500 letters have been exchanged. Members include a mail carrier in Ohio who had isolated seniors on her route. Brooks said high school classmates that she hadn't heard from for years have contacted her. Employees at her local post office call her "Pen Pal Girl."

Rosina Ragusa of Hawthorne, N.J., saw the service on Facebook and signed up after her own mother died in July. "It kind of just broke my heart, because I thought, 'What if I hadn't been there for my mother?' " she said. "You just never know who needs a friend."

The act of writing a letter on a piece of paper has brought Ragusa back to her childhood, when she had a pen pal in Japan. "I love it, I love having to sit down and think about what I'm writing instead of the quick responses with a cellphone and a computer."

Georgia Parker, 40, of Dittmer, Mo., corresponds with a woman in her late 60s in Windsor, Canada. Her own mother died two years ago, but "as you go through life and things happen, I want to call my mother and I want to tell her about it. I can write Faye and tell her," she said. "It's good to still have that connection with the older generation."

Another member, D'Linda Wallace of Munsing, Mich., said that in the store where she works, older customers often want to linger and talk. Seeing Mills's letter on Facebook made her wonder how many of them suffered from loneliness and isolation.

"I don't think people are going to always say, 'I'm lonely,' " said Wallace, who has exchanged a dozen letters with her pen pal since she signed up three months ago. "I don't think it's going to be revealed, due to people's pride and stuff, but I think it's more widespread than you would ever know."

Marleen Brooks with letters from members of Pen Pals for Seniors (James Brooks)
A couple of weeks ago, Mills moved to a nursing home; Brooks and her husband and sons  visit regularly. Speaking on the phone from her room there, Mills told The Washington Post that hardly anyone had visited her at home in recent years.

"Neighbors don't neighbor like people used to. Neighbors used to visit each other. But they don't do that there, I don't guess they do anywhere."

In fact, when Brooks initially showed up at her door in response to the letter,  she was surprised.

"I needed friends," she said, adding, "I thought it was nice, to want to help somebody."

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This is what happened when a lonely 90-year-old wrote a letter to a stranger

Brain Injury and the Civil Right We Don’t Think About

The last time I saw Margaret Worthen was in November 2012. She was in New York participating in a study of patients with severe brain injury. As soon as I walked into her room, I knew something had changed. She was still immobile, but she noticed my presence, was more attentive and engaged. And there was something else: She at times was able to use her left eye to answer simple yes or no questions. That morning, she seemed to relish her new found fluency. She responded with verve, as if the determined downward swoop of her eye could signal an exclamation point.

Communicating with one eye may not seem like much, but it was something to behold. Maggie, as she was known, had suffered a complex stroke six years earlier, during her senior year at Smith College, that involved areas deep in her brain. She had been thought to be in the “vegetative state” — the term commonly used to define the unconscious brain state most of us associate with the right to die movement and the legacies of Karen Ann Quinlan, Nancy Cruzan and Terri Schiavo.

Later, Maggie was found to be in the “minimally conscious state” — a term medically formalized in 2002. Unlike vegetative patients, those in MCS are conscious. They demonstrate intention, attention and memory. They may reach for a cup, say their name and notice you when you walk into their room. The problem is that these actions may be rare and intermittent, so when family members who witnessed them share their observations with staff members, they are often attributed to a family’s wishful thinking.

This may be true in individual cases. But often it is just part and parcel of the biology of MCS.

Indeed, at least one study indicated an alarming rate of misdiagnosis: it found that 41 percent of patients with traumatic brain injury who were in chronic care and thought to be in the vegetative state were in fact in MCS.

If not for the astute observations of her Boston neurologist, Maggie, too, would have been misdiagnosed in perpetuity. But instead, she was expressing herself one blink at a time. For a young woman who had been thought permanently unconscious, this was truly a heroic accomplishment.

Maggie’s mother, Nancy, who gave me permission to tell her family’s story in my book, “Rights Come to Mind: Brain Injury, Ethics and the Struggle for Consciousness,” never thought this would be how her daughter’s life would turn out. She had other expectations for her beautiful daughter, who studied Spanish, played Frisbee and aspired to be a veterinarian.

Still, Nancy and Maggie made a life together after the stroke. And it was O.K. Nancy was grateful that Maggie had learned to communicate, while wishing she could do more than move that one eye. Still, she told me, it seemed like it was “enough to have a life, even a small life.” Maggie had things that many people didn’t have, she said — relationships, friends and family who loved her.

In the end, Nancy arrived at a sort of acceptance: “So, I don’t know. But I think a small life is O.K.”

We cannot know whether it was O.K. for Maggie. But the rudimentary communication channel established with her left eye was the start of a way to know what she might have thought. That we cannot yet know for sure did not mean that she had no preferences or wishes. Indeed the goal of those of us who do this work is to find out and try to provide these patients with the chance to again express their agency.

Maggie’s case — her “small life” — became very consequential when my colleagues at Weill Cornell Medicine published a paper last December in the journal Science Translational Medicine revealing what had happened within her brain following her injury. During the recovery of her ability to communicate, Maggie’s brain essentially rewired over a period of years.

Using magnetic resonance imaging, Daniel J. Thengone, a graduate student, and colleagues in the Laboratory of Cognitive Neuromodulation, led by Dr. Nicholas D. Schiff, were able to demonstrate a strengthening of structural and functional reconnections across the two hemispheres emanating from Broca’s area, the region in the frontal lobe responsible for speech. It showed, remarkably, that even a grievously injured brain could heal itself. It appeared to do so by a process bearing a strong resemblance to typical brain development. The ongoing reorganization of connections among neurons is a reprise of how the developing brain gets its start.

As notable as these findings were, they did not stem from a high tech or costly intervention. Instead, they were the byproduct of a mother’s love, speech therapy and a simple eye-tracking device that cost about $30. It was Freud’s “talking cure” in a modern guise, and no less significant for our understanding of resilience and the importance of interpersonal engagement.

Yet, access to care is strained for this population. Utilization reviewers, and insurance benefit companies will deny access to rehabilitation to many individuals when they leave the hospital because they are deemed not yet ready for rehabilitation. But when nearly half of those who could participate are misdiagnosed as vegetative when they are actually minimally conscious, this vulnerable group is further marginalized. Organizations like the American College of Rehabilitation Medicine have been calling for a comprehensive evaluation of patients after hospital discharge so that misdiagnosis can be prevented and those who might be helped can get the rehabilitation they need.

Even those lucky few who do get rehabilitation and are not shunted off to what is euphemistically called “custodial care” get too little time. Most rehab stays are six weeks or less. But if the brain recovers through a slow process similar to development, why do we provide — and only to those lucky enough to receive it — just a few hours of rehabilitation a week for six weeks? It would be akin to sending your third grader to school for half-days of classes for a month or two and telling them that they are now on their own. Now that we know that it takes years for the developing brain to learn and mature, a similar commitment to the recovering injured brain now seems indicated.

If we reconceived rehabilitation as education, no one would graduate after a six-week course of care. Instead, we would promote lifelong learning as a means to achieve a recovered life. If there is a legal obligation to educate the developing brain, should there not be a correlative responsibility to those whose brain are in a process of redevelopment and recovery?

These are radical propositions at a time of fiscal scarcity and serious debate about the fate of Obamacare and health care reform. Understood this way, one might see the surrounding politics as untenable and reasonably seek to spend resources elsewhere. But it would be a mistake to view our responsibilities so narrowly. What is at stake here is more than a simple insurance question or access to care. It is a more fundamental question of basic civil rights, leaving conscious individuals isolated and abandoned.

Tragically, the most fundamental rights have been have been denied patients in the minimally conscious state.

Take pain control, for example. When a minimally conscious patient is mistakenly diagnosed as vegetative and thus thought insensate, they may not receive analgesic pain management or anesthesia for medical procedures. If this occurs, they are incredibly vulnerable — unable to communicate, and thus unable to cry out in pain. This error of omission constitutes a disrespect for personhood that should be beyond the pale in any civilized society.

Of course, we can address this by better diagnostic assessments of a patient’s brain state, to differentiate the minimally conscious from the permanently unconscious patient. But we can do something more. We can work to restore the patients’ own voices, so that they can tell us whether they are in pain, and remind us that they are in the room. They remain members of the human community even though society has segregated them in chronic care.

I use the verb “segregated” deliberately, to invoke a time when separate but equal was the law. In the wake of legal advances like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Disabled, which call for the integration of people with disabilities into civil society, how is the pervasive segregation of this population justified?

Part of the problem is that when these laws were written, the notion of reintegration was focused on physical mobility — the ramp on the side walk and the accessible workplace. It wasn’t about people whose means of integration required something more than a ramp. For minimally conscious patients, the ramp is the restoration of functional communication, which makes reintegration into its cognate — community — possible. When we restore voice to these patients we bring them back into the room and the conversation.

To accomplish this we must consider the basic relationship between these individuals and the state, and their civil rights as citizens. Legal protections have eluded this population precisely because they have been disenfranchised by their injury. They have fallen outside the scope of legal protections and been subject to abuse and neglect.

This is the civil rights issue most of us never thought about. But the long arc of justice is sometimes refracted through scientific discovery and medical advances.

I often speak to university students brought up in the era of L.G.B.T.Q. rights who can’t understand how my generation did not appreciate that people could love those they chose to love. They find it incomprehensible that this almost self-evident right had eluded earlier generations. I caution against smugness, suggesting that their own children may well ask them how they allowed society to ignore conscious individuals and deprive them of their rights.

We now can anticipate that there are large numbers of people like Maggie, who have the potential to communicate but are sequestered — indeed, segregated — in chronic care, isolated and abandoned by society. Some could be identified with proper screening and coaxed back through rehabilitation and emerging treatments. Now that we know this, we can’t look away.

Sadly, it is too late for Maggie, who died on Aug. 2, 2015. But it’s not for others who linger in the isolation of their own heads waiting for a chance to talk with you and exercise their newly found rights. No doubt, it will be an interesting conversation.

Full Article & Source:
Brain Injury and the Civil Right We Don’t Think About

Aster Memory Care resident soon to turn 100

Lillian Rickey & her daughters - Susan Eley & Sandra Frank
Lillian Rickey, who will turn 100 on Sept. 29, can easily name her favorite youth pastime – climbing, climbing and more climbing.

When talking about those days of the 1920s and 1930s, nearly every memory she recalled started with, “We climbed on ….” The “we” is Lillian and her identical twin sister, Leila.

And when they were in the midst of their antics, many adults would just shake their heads and say, “You girls …” No one was really that mad at them. Who could resist two adorable twin girls?

“We were never trouble,” Rickey said. “We climbed a lot.”

The sisters walked everywhere and climbed up on nearly everything in their path. Living in Baraboo until they were 10, they would tie a rope between two trees and practice walking on the rope like they saw at the circus.

In fact, they were so adorable at the circus, climbing on things while watching the acts, they were actually asked to join the circus. Their parents declined the offer.

Rickey recalls walking and climbing on trees to Devil’s Lake when she was 6. They did not know where to go.

“And we did not know how to get back,” she said.

Finally, they returned home, and her mother looked at her and her sister and said, “Where have you girls been?” and then her face fell as she looked at their dresses, which were torn, dirty and showed signs of their adventures.

Because back then, playing was a little bit different.

“All girls wore dresses back then,” Rickey said. “We wore dresses, not pants.”

She remembers climbing, playing and even falling into the chicken coop, scaring the chickens so much their feathers flew off.

“We don’t like feathers,” she said.

Climbing and swinging on the ropes in a barn, with her twin of course, is another fun memory.

When the family moved to Madison, it was more of the same. The girls climbed hills and went sledding near the Capitol. They once climbed a bank, where one of the workers famously said, “You girls ….”

“She (Rickey) would never let us do any of that,” said Sandra Frank, one of Rickey’s daughters.

Back in the day of the Rickey girls’ youth, they left their house, found creative things to do and often made sure to be home in time to eat. There was never a lot of worry as there is now. Frank and her sister, Susan Eley, agree.

“It is not as safe now for kids to run around, or maybe we just hear about it more,” Eley said.

In addition to her two daughters, Rickey has six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Also, the daughters noted, there are more structured activities for children, such as gymnastics and other sports, and children are more easily bored.

Rickey and her sister were born in Richland Center to Mattie and May Kimmel. About a year later, they were adopted by a married couple, Elwood and Fanny Nealy, who had no children at the time. One of the stipulations the Kimmels had for the adoption was that both girls were to be adopted together.

Which was a good thing, considering how close the girls were. Throughout their lives, they lived near each other, watched each other’s children and even married brothers. The two attended the Madison Vocational School where Rickey met her future husband, Bill, and Leila met her future husband, Bill’s brother Howard. Both men fought in World War II, during which Howard Rickey was a prisoner of war. Leila Rickey worked through the war, while Rickey watched her own and her sister’s children.

When Bill Rickey returned from war, he made a living flipping homes. They would purchase a home, remodel it, live in it for a short time, sell it and move on to another. Rickey said they did this nine or 10 times before building their dream home together.

Rickey just had to giggle when she found out there is a reality television show, “Property Brothers,” and that the star, Drew Scott, is famous enough to be casted on this season’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

The Rickeys built their final home in New Port Richey, Fla., where they spent three winters. When her husband became ill, they moved back to Madison in 1984, and Bill Rickey died Christmas Eve in 1984.

Rickey’s sister died Sept. 1, 2015, less than a month from her 98th birthday.

Rickey doesn’t climb anymore like she used to, but she does stay active.

At Aster Memory Care, she does daily devotional, plays cards and participates in all activities. She bakes and works on jigsaw puzzles and has not missed a bus ride trip. In her adulthood, she kept active by walking a lot, but without the climbing part she did as a child.

She believes that she would be remembered for her walking and climbing escapades. In fact, she said, if anyone who reads this newspaper article remembers her from a child, they would say, “Yup, I remember those two.”

Full Article & Source:
Aster Memory Care resident soon to turn 100

Friday, September 1, 2017


Rowan assistant Katie McDonald
VOD Editor: This is one of a series of stories VOD has done on what amounts to vicious abuse by guardian and attorney Mary Rowan. Her usual M.O. is to wrangle guardianship papers from the many Wayne County Probate Court judges who appoint her, then immediately proceed to seize the ward from their current residence, without a court order of removal, without notice, and without bringing their clothing and personal belongings. She and her assistant Katie McDonald then place them in various venues including group homes without notifying their family members of their location.

The next step is to get control of the ward’s finances, and frequently move on to seize real and personal property. Perfectly competent, independent elders such as Gayle Robinson have been seized from their well-tended homes and eventually forced into nursing homes.

U.S.M.C. veteran Gayle Robinson with photo of her late husband Russell, also a veteran.
Today, according to her son Randy Robinson, Wayne County Probate Court Judge Terrance Keith heard arguments on removing Rowan as guardian and possibly placing Robinson with her daughter Kathy, in order to remove her from a nursing home with ties to Rowan allies.  The entire family must agree to this arrangement. The next hearing on the matter is October 12.

Even under her daughter’s guardianship, Robinson would lose her independence and may lose her home of many years, where she raised her 10 children with her husband, both of them veterans.

While held captive in the nursing home Rowan put her in, Mrs. Robinson was drugged and thoroughly traumatized.

During the hearing, Keith first threatened another son, Ricky Robinson,  with arrest for kidnapping for bringing his mother to her own hearing from the nursing home. Rowan had forced her there with no court order from Keith. Rowan had forbidden many of Mrs. Robinson’s adult children from seeing or communicating with her.

At one point, Gayle Robinson fled the state to stay with her brother on the west coast, to avoid forced placement in a nursing home. Judge Keith jailed Randy Robinson indefinitely until his mother returned, although Keith had no jurisdiction over adults living in another state.

Sharmian Sowards with mom Wanda Worley
Meanwhile, Sharmian Sowards, a well-known country singer, has been battling charges brought by Mary Rowan against her in 33rd District Court, Brownstown Twp. The city has charged Sowards with “assaulting, resisting and obstructing” Rowan when she came to seize her mother Wanda Worley from her home.

Rowan had no court order of removal or showed Sowards any court papers at all. Sowards twice denied her entrance to her property. Worley is currently unable to leave her bed due to severe complications from spinal surgery and faulty pain management that followed. At one point she almost died, according to Sowards.

As her sole caregiver, Sowards said she cannot leave her mother’ s side and has asked 33rd District Court Judge Hesson for an adjournment of a trial set for Aug. 30-31, until her mother, her chief witness, recovers and the two can find transportation to the court hearing. The prosecution has complained that the next jury trial is not available until October, but Sowards says that is not a problem as long as her mother recovers.  (Click to Continue)

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Ex-Atlanta attorney indicted in $250,000 theft of client fees

A former Atlanta attorney was indicted on 30 theft by taking by fiduciary and two forgery counts Tuesday nearly four years after allegations arose that he stole more than $266,000 from clients.

A grand jury issued the indictment against Robert Thompson Jr., 65, Fulton County District Attorney spokesman Dontaye Carter said in a release.

During the initial investigation in May 2014, police discovered Thompson misappropriated more than $75,000 from seven clients, Carter said. Once the case got to the district attorney’s office, authorities identified 22 other victims and revealed Thompson allegedly misappropriated more than $191,000.

Thompson, who specialized in foreclosures, was disbarred by the Georgia Supreme Court in February 2015. He had practiced law for nearly 40 years.

Carter said if convicted, Thompson could face 480 years in prison.

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Ex-Atlanta attorney indicted in $250,000 theft of client fees

Wisconsin DOJ creates elder abuse task force

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin's Attorney General has announced a new program to tackle elder abuse in the state.

The Attorney General's Task Force on Elder Abuse's mission is to study the impact of elder abuse and find ways to protect a growing population of citizens

Elder abuse includes physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse.

“Over the next two decades, Wisconsin’s 65 and older population will increase by 72% and one in nine seniors have reported being abused, neglected or exploited in the past twelve months,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel. “Sadly, this group is seen by criminals as vulnerable and easily exploitable. With this rapidly growing population, we must act with urgency to protect our loved ones from becoming the target of financial, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.”

The Attorney General's office says elder abuse is "vastly underreported."

In Brown County, one of the leading forms of abuse is financial.

"The amounts of money can be significant," said Ian Agar, outpatient behavioral health manager at Brown County Community Treatment Center. "Someone's life savings can be squandered away quite quickly, either through fraud or a scam."

Agar said the hardest part is getting the money back and catching those responsible for the fraud, so he's hoping the state's new Task Force on Elder Abuse will help.

"What I would hope for from the task force would be additional resources and tools to help investigate," said Agar. "With successful prosecution, we can reduce the number of reports and incidents of abuse."

Schimel said that is just one of many goals.

"The task force will also work to strengthen consumer protection laws for seniors and create recommendations for improved cross-system communication," said Schimel.

Devon Christianson, director of Brown County's Aging and Disability Resource Center, said better communication is key. The Task Force will be made up of a number of groups, including the Department of Justice and local law enforcement.

"To have this multi-disciplinary team at the state level to really attack the problem through all of these disciplines is really what is going to make the difference," said Christianson. "Instead of it being a small local initiative, the state push is going to give the wind beneath all of our wings to try and make a difference."

Full Article & Source:
Wisconsin DOJ creates elder abuse task force

Thursday, August 31, 2017


Forced incarceration. Catholic Punishment for the Elderly. Killing Mother Not So Slowly. GWEN WANTS TO GO HOME.


Sandy man charged with elderly abuse of mother found lying on floor for 3 days

SALT LAKE CITY — A Sandy man has been charged with leaving his elderly mother lying on the floor for three days in her own feces and illegally obtaining a loan in her name.

Anthony Leichtle, 49, is charged in 3rd District Court with aggravated abuse of a vulnerable adult, a second-degree felony; exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a third-degree felony; and violation of a protective order, a class A misdemeanor.

In March, a nurse went to the 73-year-old woman's home and found her "lying on the floor covered in her own urine and feces," according to charging documents.

"(The woman) stated that she laid on the floor for three days and did not remember eating or using the bathroom," the charges state.

The woman told police her son did not talk to her during that time.

"(Leichtle) said he was unable to take care of (his) mother because she was too sick," according to court documents.

He gave the nurse his mother's medical information "and told her to 'figure out' what to do" with her, the charges state. She was taken to a local hospital and was found to have several injuries, including problems with her kidneys.

"(The woman) is now unable to walk or get out of bed," charging documents state.

The mother had taken out a protective order against Leichtle in 2011, according to court documents. Despite that order, detectives learned that in 2015, Leichtle secured power of attorney over her, the charges state.

In January, Leichtle took out a loan for just under $300 in his mother's name at Solutions Loan, 2723 W. 3500 South, according to court records. The loan was taken out at a rate of 469.29 pecent and required repayment in 12 installments of $118.91 each for a total of more than $1,500, police say.

Leichtle made one payment of $25 but then told the company that his mother was in a care facility and refused to make any more payments, the charges state.

A warrant was issued for Leichtle's arrest and he was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on Wednesday. His initial court appearance is scheduled for Friday.

Full Article & Source:
Sandy man charged with elderly abuse of mother found lying on floor for 3 days

First U.S. ‘Dementia Village’ Recreates a Happier Time


It all started with a fifth-grade class project. Scott Tarde, CEO of George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers, which has operated dementia day care facilities in California’s San Diego county for 35 years, was amazed at his 12-year-old daughter’s enthusiasm over her Junior Achievement “BizTown” field trip.

In a huge space not unlike a converted shopping mall, the young students took on civic roles such as mayor, bank teller and restaurant owner. The goal was to immerse children in what it takes to run a city and understand the economy.

For Tarde, a lightbulb went on.

Time Capsule Therapy for People With Dementia

For the more than 5 million Americans who have Alzheimer’s, their minds are trapped in a world often many years in the past. Short-term memory loss is common; they may not recognize younger members of the family such as grandchildren. Yet, long-term memories often remain intact. They recall days of their youth and may think an adult son is actually their husband or long-deceased father.

Glenner Town Square will be a dementia village-style environment that envelopes patients in a world they know but which has been gone for over 50 years.

Triggering positive memories from the past is often the goal of families and dementia-care professionals. An approach called reminiscence therapy (RT), initially presented by renowned geriatrician Robert Butler and noted psychologist Erik Erikson, can help dementia patients calm anxiety, soothe aggressive behavior, prevent wandering and improve quality of life, studies have shown.

Tarde and his business development director, Lisa Tyburski, were already using RT in their dementia day care facilities. They wanted to take the concept to a new level. Their vision is to create a completely immersive experience — a faux Main Street U.S.A. circa 1953 to 1961, when many of their dementia patients were in their younger years. Their research led them to the first dementia village. It was created in The Netherlands in 2009 and is called Hogewyck; dementia residents and health care professionals all live in the same enclosed village.


An Old Model for a New Idea

But while Hogeweyk is a 24/7 residential care town with several city blocks, it doesn’t offer the retro style that Tarde and team are building in San Diego, called the Glenner Town Square. And Glenner is a day program, not a residential center.

The “town” encompasses 8,500 square feet, 24 buildings and 12 storefronts — including a diner, Post Office, barbershop, pet store, library, museum and even a movie theater. In it, dementia patients will be able to spend the day exploring this world independently, in small groups or with their families. It offers a secure environment, with the watchful eye of Glenner dementia care professionals operating the storefronts and other businesses and interacting with the patients throughout the day.

The $3 million Glenner Town Square will be built in collaboration with the San Diego Opera Scenic Studio using the artisans and production staff who create the environments and sets for the stage. It is scheduled to open in 2018 and will be the first “dementia village” in the U.S.

Tyburski advises that this is just the beginning. The plan is to build these villages first throughout California, and then to expand nationally. Other long-term care communities across the country may have a nostalgia room with décor and photos, such as The Easton Home near Philadelphia, but Glenner Town Square will be the first planned, and completely standalone, dementia village-style environment that envelopes the dementia patients in a world they know well but which has been gone for more than 50 years.

“A lot of thought and planning has gone into the Town Square,” says Tyburski. “For instance, we found a Hollywood prop company, History for Hire, that can provide any era furniture and other décor, and we are creating fire hydrants and other street props made of rubber or fiberglass, so they are safe for our patients.”

Memory-Triggering Details

And while the Glenner Town Square will evoke an earlier era resembling any town across the country, each village built will have some local flavor that may help trigger memories for Glenner’s Alzheimer’s patients. In this first Town Square in San Diego, an Old Town gaslight street and Navy Town section represent the real local area attractions that have been part of San Diego for decades and still exist today.

Tom Christian, an architect whose wife Grace was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia in 2012 at age 52, finds the Glenner Town Square concept revolutionary in dementia care.

“Grace needs a lot of different activities and stimulation throughout the day to keep her from picking up objects and pacing with them,” he says. “While the current adult day care activities have helped, the idea of her having a whole ‘town’ to explore, with familiar but different settings in a controlled space, with safe confines and expert supervisors during the day, is a breakthrough for us.”


A Happier Place on Earth

It seems appropriate that Southern California will be the site of the nation’s first dementia village, and the 1950s timeframe is also suggestive of a similar genius concept. After all, it was July 1955 when a visionary named Walt Disney transformed a 160-acre orange grove in Anaheim, Calif., and created Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland — a place for families to immerse themselves in other worlds. Glenner Town Square is embarking on a new era in dementia care, providing the same intergenerational opportunities and sparks of joy that are a hallmark of the Disney theme parks.

“Reminiscence therapy can be a powerful tool for dementia patients,” says Dr. Peter Whitehouse, professor of neurology and neuroscience at Case Western University and president of the Intergenerational Schools International. “It makes those with Alzheimer’s more content and happier because they return to a time in their lives when there was no perceived failure — a time when their memory was intact and they did not feel lost.”

Whitehouse adds that combining RT with the actual historic environment is not only a powerful therapeutic solution for those with dementia, but also engages family members who may have been at a loss as to how to interact and elicit communication with their loved one.

“Both children and seniors, including those with a dementia diagnosis, can feel isolated, lonely and vulnerable,” Whitehouse adds. “Creating places where they can learn from, and interact with, each other creates a futuristic playground where each generation can create and share stories. Kids experience the past through the eyes of their elders and our seniors see the future in the eyes of the children.”

The Power of Reminiscing

Bob Partridge and his wife care for his 74-year-old mother-in-law, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years ago.

“My mother-in-law gets anxious, especially when she is more sedentary and does not get a lot of activity,” says Partridge. “We believe the Town Square concept gives us a chance to involve her in a pleasant, calming but active setting that may help slow the progression of her disease. I know the idea of slowing Alzheimer’s is not scientifically proven — but we see that reminiscing about the past has a positive impact on her behavior and interaction with others, so we believe we can keep her engaged with us longer in this type of environment.”

Partridge also shares that his mother-in-law is challenged in interacting with her 17-year-old and 11-year-old grandchildren because of the barriers in communication that come with dementia. But he says this will offer them all a place to go and create new experiences based on his mother-in-law’s re-living memories of her past.

“Having my mother-in-law be able to talk to her grandkids about her early years is a blessing we believe will come out of this experience in a natural and spontaneous way that the grandkids can appreciate,” adds Partridge. “We support more funding to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s, but in the meantime, families need help with the care of dementia loved ones.”

The Way We Were

Tom Christian also shares that the idea of Glenner Town Square changes his perspective on his caregiving role and believes it may also help eliminate the stigma that’s typical with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

“With the adult day care center, I drop Grace off and then pick her up — it isn’t something we share together and that was a special and important component of our relationship — our togetherness,’ says Christian. “And while Grace and I go places together, it is sometimes hard to explain to people that she has dementia and what that means. Sometimes I have felt a stigma in how people treat you.”
Christian says when Glenner Town Square opens, he and his wife will now have a place to go together. He believes these types of advancements in dealing with the dignity of dementia families are important.

“A diagnosis of dementia doesn’t have to mean the end of your life. I’ve been able to see it isn’t a bad thing, it’s just different,” says Christian. “Grace and I always said we both wanted a marriage where we spent as much time together as possible. The idea that we can stroll through a city street together and maybe go to a 1950s movie for a while creates a positive for me out of a not-so-positive situation.”

He adds: “I don’t want to trivialize dementia in any way, but there can still be joy and magic moments to be shared and this gives us a place to do that.”

Full Article & Source:
First U.S. ‘Dementia Village’ Recreates a Happier Time

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Guardianship panel to discuss solutions Friday

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After five months of studying the issue, the state Supreme Court’s Adult Guardianship Study Commission is scheduled to discuss recommendations on how to improve the guardian/conservator system in New Mexico on Friday.

The commission will hear from its subcommittees for proposed improvements to recommend to the state Supreme Court. The meeting runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the State Bar Center at 5121 Masthead St. NE.

It has until Oct. 1 to submit a report to the Supreme Court.

Chairwoman Wendy York has agreed to speak privately with people who have experienced adult guardianship issues but haven’t sent comments or appeared publicly before the commission.

Those interested should email her scheduler at nmguardianshipcommission@gmail.

At its Aug. 11 meeting, the commission inadvertently released an incorrect email address, which then appeared in Sunday’s Journal newspaper.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship panel to discuss solutions Friday

Madison County community leaders announce elder justice initiative

EDWARDSVILLE – Chief Judge Dave Hylla, Sheriff John Lakin and Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons on Tuesday announced the inception of the Madison County Elder Justice Initiative.

The combination of the aging population becoming a larger percent of our population, along with the issues of abuse and access to justice, have led to the creation of the Madison County Elder Justice Initiative (MCEJI) and a review of court services and law enforcement efforts available to serve this segment of the population in Madison County.

The Madison County Elder Justice Initiative seeks to ensure better access, protection, support, and justice for senior citizens in Madison County, including those who have experienced any form of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

This collaborative partnership between local law enforcement, county government agencies, elder protective services, and senior community advocates works to identify and address common barriers in a variety of areas related to the aging population in the community – from improving court accessibility, to enhancing the effectiveness of investigation and prosecution of crimes against some of our most vulnerable residents.

The National Council on Aging reports that 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse, but only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities. The first step in this process is to begin an education initiative designed to enhance the public’s awareness of abuse, exploitation, and neglect of elder persons; promote a better understanding of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes which affect elder abuse; and identify steps we can take as a community to identify and prevent cases of elder abuse.

To assist with navigating the Court system, the Elder Law & Justice Division strives to provide seniors with later docket times, accessible courtrooms, and consolidation of cases, as needed.

“I am proud that our Judges in Madison County are joining with law enforcement to take more steps to assist the elderly and continue to give them the dignity and respect they so much deserve,” said Hylla.

Hylla, Lakin and Gibbons announced the creation of the MCEJI on Friday afternoon at the “2017 Understanding Elder Abuse: Protect Our Seniors” Conference at Senior Services Plus in Alton. This public event, hosted by the Third Judicial Circuit Family Violence Prevention Council, Oasis Women’s Center, Senior Services Plus, Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office, Alton Police Department and AARP, provided attendees with information to heighten awareness about elder abuse and increase the ability to recognize and report incidents, including a presentation by Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder and Gibbons.

“As public servants, it must always be our mission to work together for the benefit of the citizens we serve. This collaboration brings together a multidisciplinary team dedicated to enhancing access to justice on all levels for seniors,” Gibbons said. “We are fighting together every day to make our justice system work for you!”

Full Article & Source:
Madison County community leaders announce elder justice initiative

Ogden nursing home worker with criminal record accused of exploiting residents

Mary Olwyn Booth
OGDEN — A woman with a history of retail theft, forgery and crimes against the elderly or disabled has been charged with committing similar crimes at an Ogden nursing home, according to the Weber County District Attorney.

Court records show Mary Olwyn Booth, 61, was charged Aug. 28 with six counts of exploitation of a vulnerable adult, all third-degree felonies; unlawful acquisition, possession or transfer of a financial transaction card, a third-degree felony; and four counts of unlawful use of a financial transaction card, a Class B misdemeanor.

Booth was hired Feb. 1 by Crestwood Rehabilitation and Nursing, a nursing home for the elderly at 3665 Brinker Ave., court documents say. Booth worked in the salon and provided hair care services to the residents, who would pay her through trust accounts — the individual funds managed for them by the facility’s administrative staff.

Shortly after being hired, Booth requested a Square credit card reader to accept payments from residents or family members who wanted to pay her directly, court records say.

Booth was supposed to turn in a log sheet of services she’d provided weekly in order to be paid from the trust accounts, but Crestwood did not require her to account for payments processed with the Square card reader, charging documents say.

Questions were raised, court documents say, when Booth allegedly turned in a log sheet May 6 showing all five residents to whom she’d provided salon services wanted to tip her either $5 or $10 — including a resident described as “non-verbal.”

A staff investigation revealed the residents, “four of whom are very much alert and would be able to articulate their desire to give Mary a tip,” had their wishes misrepresented by Booth and either hadn’t offered a tip or asked to tip $1, court documents say.

Further investigation by Utah Adult Protective Services alleged Booth unlawfully used a resident’s credit card information to deposit money to her own bank account on at least four occasions, totaling $213.75 in unauthorized charges.

Reached by phone, the manager at Crestwood Care Center declined to comment on the investigation.

Court records show Booth has prior convictions in Utah for similar crimes:
  • Last August, Booth was charged with retail theft and theft by deception in Salt Lake County for making fraudulent returns at a Nordstrom Rack store totaling $695.33 and stealing a $300 pair of boots. She pleaded guilty to an amended charge of attempted retail theft, a Class A misdemeanor, and was placed on 18 months probation.
  • In September 2002, Booth was charged with eight counts of forgery, a third-degree felony. She pleaded guilty to three of the counts. Records show she was ordered to serve probation after 90 days in jail.
  • In July 2002, Booth was charged with exploitation of a disabled or elderly adult, a third-degree felony. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 36 months probation. 
Booth is being held in Weber County Jail on $39,000 bail and is next scheduled to appear in court Aug. 31. 

Full Article & Source:
Ogden nursing home worker with criminal record accused of exploiting residents

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Disney heirs' £235m legacy fued gets ugly

Twins Brad and Michelle Lund before the split
IF THIS tumultuous tale was a film made by their famous grandfather, Disney twins Brad and Michelle Lund would be looking forward to a fairytale ending.

Yet a bitter feud between the brother and sister is growing nastier by the day as they fight it out for a £235million inheritance.

A year from now, on their 45th birthdays, they are due to receive a huge payout from the Magic Kingdom. However, they are questioning each other’s mental competence and entitlement to the money.

As accusations, lawsuits and appeals mount up, it looks like a turbulent 12 months ahead.

Just as the huge Hollywood empire is celebrating smash-hit family movies such as Frozen and Maleficent, the Disney feud is casting a long shadow over the successes.

The twins, whose late mother was Walt Disney’s daughter Sharon Lund, have spent years battling each other in court and are no longer on speaking terms.

Both went to schools for children with learning disabilities, and in adult life have stayed away from the running of the corporate empire.

While awaiting the really big money, they have been living off smaller payments from the Disney estate.

Brad has worked as a table clearer in a restaurant, on the counter of a parcel delivery office and making drinks in a cafe, but now considers himself retired. Michelle has never held a job, but has seen more of the family money so far.

Walt Disney created the Hollywood empire
Their mother’s will stated that most of the family fortune due to them would be held in trust and paid in three instalments on their 35th, 40th and 45th birthdays as long as they could demonstrate “maturity and financial ability to manage such funds in a prudent and responsible manner”.

Michelle has had her two large shares so far – despite claims made against her of drug use and concentration problems following a brain aneurysm.

Brad, however, hasn’t yet received either of his payments. Following reports from medical experts who said he had a “chronic cognitive disability”, the trustees ruled that he lacked the mental abilities to oversee so much cash.

As they are due to vote again next year on whether to turn over money to both grandchildren on their 45th birthdays – including the millions Brad has not yet received – the war is well and truly on.

Brad recently lost a court case in which he claimed the trustees were only denying his money to line their own pockets.

He said: “The trustees keep my trust hostage and refuse to hand me over what is legally and rightfully mine.”

A judge in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Mitchell Beckloff, ruled: “The trustees are legitimately concerned about Mr Lund’s ability to protect himself from those around him who may wish to take financial advantage of him.”

Walt Disney died in 1966, having established a unique entertainment company that has continued to grow. It now boasts an equity value of more than £80billion.

The twins’ mother died from breast cancer 20 years ago. Before her death she set up a trust fund for her children, administered by a group of well-paid trustees.

Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, was a dedicated family man who once said: “A man must never neglect his family for business.

“The important thing is the family, if you can keep the family together. That’s the backbone of our whole business, catering to families.”

Now his own family are fighting over that business...and it is becoming more ugly by the minute.

Full Article & Source:
Disney heirs' £235m legacy fued gets ugly

Ahwatukee attorney turning business from law to advocacy for seniors

Don Scher
In a world of caretakers, guardians and probate lawyers, Don Scher sees a near void.

He doesn’t see many trustworthy friends and advocates for people too old or infirmed to handle their financial and lifestyle affairs.

That’s why the Ahwatukee resident is giving up his Chandler law practice to devote himself to a new business, hiring himself out as a “personal counselor, agent, advocate and protector” for elderly people who want to protect themselves in the future and caring relatives or friends of elderly and other people who cannot take care of themselves.

The Southern California native, a father of five and grandfather of 11, has been a lawyer for 30 years, gravitating to the profession because he wanted “to protect my clients’ interests, both personally and financially, and in business matters as well.”

“I have emphasized in my practice, protection of the elderly, with particular interest in combatting elder abuse and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults,” he explained.

“My law practice involves wills, trusts, estate planning, guardianship, conservatorships, probate and trust administration, in addition to corporations, real estate, entity formation, franchise, contracts and general business matters.”

But while taking care of his widowed mother, he saw the ravages that time and dementia can exact.

Recalling how in that time spent his mother “went from an independent widow of 77 to age 92 and didn’t know who she was or where she was,” Scher said he saw “the challenges facing seniors, how they are treated by the community and how they are exploited.”

And now he’s somewhat more cynical of the odds of being scammed.

“Thirty years ago, people used to think that 10 percent of the people were dishonest honest and 90 percent were honest. Now, it’s 10 percent of the people are trustworthy and 90 percent are crooks.”

Scher said his clients “are parents and grandparents who want to protect themselves by effective estate planning” or “by anticipating the challenges in their families.”

They also include “children who find that their parents have been exploited by a family member or some third party, and want to stop the exploitation, or family members who need legal authority to care for a parent or family member, both medically and financially, or the surviving widow or widower, who is without friends or family support who wants to be sure that there is someone to step in to take care of them if they become ill or lose the capacity to make medical and/or financial decisions.”

His goal for them all: “I want to keep them out of the court system. I want their golden years to actually be golden and pleasurable.”

“That’s why I am starting this new practice,” he added. “I want to be able to act as their best friend and confidante, someone they know who is in their corner.”

As an advocate, Scher said he acts as his client’s “advisor, agent and representative, working with family members and their own CPA, attorney, insurance and financial advisor.

“I will be first and foremost protecting my clients’ from abuse and exploitation as their shield from anyone asking for money in any form,” he said, adding he also plays other roles as well.

“I will be there to resolve family disputes, to help deal with family members who have special needs, to mentor family members about how to handle wealth and about education for business and financial matters, and to educate the clients about their options to enjoy life and to facilitate that enjoyment, without regard to age, mobility or other limitation,” he said.

His background positions him well.

With a bachelor’s degree in accounting and law degrees from two universities, he has managed several businesses, developed an office complex and consulted for the state Land Department.

He is dismayed by the number of firms and solo practitioners who offer free dinners and lunches under the guise of giving advice, but then end up selling products such as life insurance.

His services just aren’t aimed at seniors.

There can be issues, for example, that parents can face in caring for a special-needs child or even a son or daughter who has become addicted to drugs or alcohol.

“My intention to do personal advocacy business,” Scher said. “I want them to know my sole purpose is to advise them, counsel them.”

Full Article & Source:
Ahwatukee attorney turning business from law to advocacy for seniors

Nurse accused of stealing more than $8,000 from 91-year-old Decatur patient

A home health nurse is accused of stealing more than $8,000 from a 91-year-old patient in Decatur.

Lori Pendergrass Sconyers
Lori Pendergrass Sconyers, 43, used the elderly victim's bank account information and checks to pay her own bills and get cash, according to court documents made public today.

Police began investigating the theft in June when a woman reported her 91-year-old mother's credit card was stolen, Detective Michael Ferguson said in a news release. Initially Sconyers, a home health nurse from Athens, was arrested on a theft charge. But the investigation continued as multiple transactions were discovered on the victim's bank account, Ferguson said.

Sconyers is held in the Morgan County Jail with bail set at $10,000 cash only. She is charged with first-degree financial exploitation of the elderly. The Class B felony is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

In nearby Limestone County, Sconyers also has been indicted on two counts of fraudulent use of a debit card, according to court documents. Those charges were brought because Sconyers used the credit card, which was stolen from the Decatur woman, to make purchases in Athens, said Emme Long, a Decatur police spokeswoman.

Sconyers used the elderly woman's money to pay her own insurance, cellphone and credit card bills, Ferguson wrote in court records. Sconyers is accused of stealing $8,641.

Additional details haven't been released.

The Department of Human Resources has an Adult Services Division that investigates crimes against the elderly by working alongside local law enforcement agencies and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

If anyone suspects an elderly person is being exploited, it can be reported to DHR's hotline at 1-800-458-7214 or by contacting a local office. A report also can be filed via email.

Full Article & Source:
Nurse accused of stealing more than $8,000 from 91-year-old Decatur patient

Monday, August 28, 2017

Guardianship legal battle ends in secrecy

A daughter’s claims of excessive billing and millions of dollars of mismanagement by her mother’s corporate guardian/conservator were secret from the start. During four years of litigation, virtually all of the court case was sealed from public view.

Now the professional malpractice lawsuit – a rare case against a New Mexico court-appointed professional guardian/conservator – has ended with a secret out-of-court settlement.

The settlement came a month after the judge in the case reversed himself and opened up court files in response to a motion by the Albuquerque Journal. The terms of the settlement weren’t revealed publicly.

Without a public trial, which was set for October, the opportunity to learn more from Leonie Rosenstiel’s case against Decades LLC of Albuquerque appears all but lost, just as a commission appointed by the state Supreme Court is looking for ways to reform the system.

Nancy Oriola, founder of Decades, told the Journal on Friday that the settlement was “an economic decision by the insurance companies that I agreed to. Otherwise, I feel I had a very strong case.”

Rosenstiel, in a statement, told the Journal she believes she would have won at trial.

“However, I’m happy about the settlement, because I can now move on to other things. I am especially glad that the record of this case has been opened for all to see. It’s my hope that these sorts of cases become more transparent in the future. I’m deeply concerned that all the unwarranted secrecy has led to the perception among people caught in the system that commercial guardians and conservators are favored by the courts.”

Rosenstiel, the daughter of a New York financier, was an only child, and the personal representative for her mother, Annette Rosenstiel.

Annette Rosenstiel, who died in 2012, was a published author and lecturer who held a Ph.D. in anthropology.

After her father died and her mother began to show signs of dementia, Leonie sought to become guardian for her mother, but ultimately agreed to the appointment of Decades as both the guardian to make decisions on her mother’s daily care and as conservator tasked with overseeing her mother’s finances.

Rosenstiel’s lawsuit in 2013 alleged that over a nine-year-period, Decades “abused their position” as the appointed guardian and conservator for her mother, who died at the age of 100.

“The alleged abuse took multiple forms,” her complaint stated. She contended that Decades breached its fiduciary duty by negligently handling her mother’s assets and charging “astonishing expenses” for her mother’s care, which included nearly $250,000 in legal fees.

Rosenstiel’s securities expert estimated that her mother’s estate lost at least $10 million under Decades’ oversight, in part because the conservator firm failed to diversify her concentrated stock in New York Mercantile Exchange Holdings until after a dramatic drop in value.

Decades sought to disqualify that expert, maintaining that the firm had acted prudently, had no duty to act, and was bound by a court ruling that required prior court approval for any re-allocation of assets.

Leonie contended that the annual reports Decades was required to provide by law to the court didn’t provide enough information for Leonie to ascertain the status of her mother’s finances.

Only when Leonie went to court herself in November 2007, alleging mismanagement by Decades, did the company take steps to diversify the stock, she alleged. Then, six months before her mother’s death, Decades asked the judge in the case to relieve it of “all liability” in the performance of its duties from November 2008 to December 13, 2011, her lawsuit stated. Decades, in its answer, denied that allegation .

Decades stated that, after Annette’s death, her estate still had a total asset value of more than $5.6 million, “which was net of years of expensive in-home care, guardianship and conservatorship expenses and hundreds of thousands of dollars of gifts” to her sole heir, Leonie.

Leonie Rosenstiel was “clearly disappointed that she has not inherited as much as she would have liked. …,” Decades’ attorney said in one filing.

Oriola told the Journal she had several experts who would have testified that her company provided “excellent” care to Rosenstiel. She also said the “estate did benefit by more than $6 million after her death. In our opinion we did well by Dr. Rosenstiel.”

Rosenstiel’s securities expert Douglas Schultz concluded that Decades had “neither the expertise or experience in how to deal with diversifying and hedging” such a large concentrated asset. For Decades to say there are no damages to the estate, “is like trying to take credit for the sun coming up in the morning because you happen to be on your porch watching,” he wrote in a report.

In the civil lawsuit against Decades, state District Judge Alan Malott rendered only one substantive ruling on the lawsuit’s allegations. In May 2016, he denied a Decades motion to dismiss Rosenstiel’s claim that Decades had been negligent in failing to diversify.

“There are genuine issues of material fact in dispute as to whether or not Decades LLC exercised due care and appropriate prudence in not seeking the Court’s permission to re-allocate Ms. Rosenstiel’s (New York Mercantile Exchange) stock until late 2007,” Malott wrote.

Closed from public view

For part of the case, the two sides argued over whether the filings in the case should be sealed from public view. Under state law, guardian/conservator court proceedings are closed to the public and all records filed in the case are sealed.

Decades argued that records in Rosenstiel’s civil case should also be sealed, because her allegations referenced the guardianship matter. The company stated that it welcomed “scrutiny” but added, despite “Defendants’ desire for public vindication in its 10 plus year battle with Plaintiff, it is still constrained to respect Annette Rosenstiel’s privacy.”

After various filings were sealed initially, Malott in 2014 imposed confidentiality on all further filings related to the guardian/conservator case, adding, “The Court further bemoans the ongoing level of vitriol which counsel feels is appropriate in furtherance of these proceedings.”

Guardianship matters are shrouded in secrecy – even after the incapacitated person is dead – and Malott’s initial sealing order was upheld by the Supreme Court after Rosenstiel’s lawyers appealed.

But when the Journal asked Malott to reconsider this summer, Malott on July 10 rescinded his order. He concluded that Leonie Rosenstiel, as personal representative, had the authority to waive confidentiality.

One month earlier, Malott ruled against Rosenstiel in finding there were no grounds to force his recusal on the case. Rosenstiel’s attorney David Garcia argued that the judge had an appearance of bias when he criticized news coverage of guardianship issues and defended the guardianship industry at an Albuquerque Lawyers Club panel earlier this year.

Malott, in that ruling, made it clear he didn’t want lawyers talking about the case publicly.

“The parties and counsel are reminded the appropriate place for the trial is in the Bernalillo County Courthouse, not the “Court of Public Opinion,” Malott wrote.

Until an Aug. 7 mediation, court records show both sides were continuing to spar. Decades also challenged the fact that one of its insurance companies had failed to defend the company in the case.

Decades was founded in 2001 and provides comprehensive elder care services in New Mexico, according to its website. The company has been appointed by judges in more than 70 guardian/conservator cases since 2004, state court records show.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship legal battle ends in secrecy

Elderly Couple’s Belongings Left Out In Rain After Eviction

LAUDERHILL (CBSMiami) — James Walker, 78, stepped through the pieces of his life, a scattered mess of personal papers and photographs left behind after he and his wife were evicted from their home of more than 25 years on Thursday.

An elderly couple’s belongings were left out in the rain following an eviction from their home of 25 years. (Source: CBS4)
The eviction came even as Walker was at the courthouse, in a last ditch effort to stave off foreclosure.

“He called me and I told him, ‘I want you to wait because my wife is in there.’ She is in the bed. He went in there and they got my wife out of the bed,” Walker said of the eviction crew.

His wife, 80-year-old Susan Walker, a wheelchair-bound invalid, was hospitalized after the stress of the eviction. Times were good when she was a school bus driver and James drove a truck, but in retirement, their income plummeted to a pittance. They didn’t pay their mortgage for well over a year.

James said the foreclosure process was confusing and the mortgage company didn’t help.

“They never came out, never sent nobody out here personally to talk to me about anything,” Walker said.

The Walkers’ daughter managed to get some of their furniture in storage, but not until after it got rained on after being tossed at the edge of the road way. He is sleeping on a neighbors couch, for the moment, but next week?

“I’m trying to get some help. I would appreciate whatever assistance I can get because I need to get this situation straightened out,” Walker said.

James rode his bicycle Friday to see his wife in the hospital. He will be back to retrieve the family Bible, among items left on the front stoop.

James Walker, 78, walks through an empty home following an eviction in Lauderhill. (Source: CBS4)
The Ocwen mortgage servicing company, which handled the Walker’s loan, issued a statement Friday saying in part, “we made attempts to find a solution for their situation, including exploring various loss mitigation options” but were unable to reach a mutual agreement.

The company says it has amended 740,000 distressed mortgages and taken billions of dollars in losses in order to keep families in their homes.

Anyone who would like to help the Walkers, financially or through other efforts, can do so at or by calling Neighbors4Neighbors at: (305) 597-4404.

Full Article & Source:
Elderly Couple’s Belongings Left Out In Rain After Eviction

Petaluma Care Provider Accused Of Bilking Elderly Clients

Lisa Chavez
PETALUMA, CA -- A Petaluma woman who works as an in-home care provider is suspected of stealing money from at least two of her elderly clients. According to a Petaluma Police Department news release, Lisa Chavez was arrested Monday following a week-long investigation that allegedly revealed she pocketed a combined $3,000 from the clients.

In one case, police say the victim had given her debit card and PIN number to Chavez for the purpose of making routine purchases.

"However, Chavez also used the victim’s debit card to withdrawal cash at banks, other than the victim’s, and the Graton Casino," said Petaluma police Sgt. Lance Novello.

The victim's loss exceeded $1,500, Novello said.

Through the course of their investigation, police learned that another elderly victim who employed Chavez found she was missing around $1,500 cash she had been saving for a medical procedure.

"The victim confronted Chavez, who then admitted to the theft and agreed to pay the money back in increments," Novello said.

Investigators pieced together account statements, surveillance images and Chavez’s payroll records, all which allegedly revealed a pattern consistent with the victim’s losses, the sergeant said.

Petaluma police contacted Chavez on Monday and after interviewing her, placed her under arrest on suspicion of fiduciary elder abuse and identity theft.

"Chavez was booked into the Sonoma County Jail with a bail enhancement due to the nature of the offenses, but was then released on bail," Novello said.

Police are continuing their investigation and encouraged anyone else who may have been victimized by Chavez to contact the Petaluma Police Department.

Chavez's employer was notified of the allegations and is cooperating with the investigation, Novello said.

Full Article & Source:
Petaluma Care Provider Accused Of Bilking Elderly Clients