Saturday, August 4, 2018

Parents Lose Custody of Disabled Adult Son for Questioning Psych Drugs

Ian Bankert at his high school graduation.
Commentary by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News

Medical kidnapping can happen to adults as well as children. Health Impact News has reported a number of adult kidnapping stories over the years.

Some involve senior citizens. Others, like this one reported by ABC News in Raleigh, North Carolina, involve the seizure of adult children with mental illness or disability from their parents who have loved, raised, and cared for their children their entire lives.

Doctors (mostly psychiatrists) and courts have the power to step in and take over the entire lives of such individuals, isolating them from their families and ultimately deciding every aspect of their care.
Reporter Jonah Kaplan writes:
This may be the most painful symptom of mental illness and its impact on North Carolina families.
NC I Team guardians photo
The investigative team from ABC11, the I-team, found that more than 5,000 adults in North Carolina are under state guardianship care. Most of these adults have mental or developmental disabilities or have mental illness.

The cost to taxpayers is staggering. ABC11 found that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reports that the state pays an average of $1,200 per person, per day, for each of the patients under public guardianship care.

Doctors Override Parental Decisions, Lock Up Their Son

David Bankert and Joanne Luterman are the parents of 24-year-old, Ian Bankert. They told reporters that their son was very athletic in school, on the swim team and track team. He was well-liked and did well academically. His parents noticed signs of his descent into mental illness during his high school years.

Ian graduated, then spent the next few years going in and out of the hospital. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

His parents became concerned about the doctors “overprescribing him with medication,” a concern which is shared by many parents and patients, and watchdog groups.

Doctors recommended “more medication and long-term care,” but his parents, according to ABC11, “instead insisted that a good diet, exercise and faith could restore Ian’s sense of self.”

More than that, according to a funding page set up by the parents,David Bankert and Joanne Luterman want:
to try to help our son get out of the state operated mental health system and get him on the road to recovery by way of a private doctor and team.
They are also “seeking out all other forms of help for him.” (See link.)
Dr. Stephen Ford and psychiatrist Dr. Gary B Pohl did not agree with the parents. Instead, Dr. Ford petitioned the court to take Ian away from the care of his parents.
“We were shocked and blown away,” Luterman told ABC11. “We want Ian to have some joy, to come home, lead a life with his family and have some sense of normalcy.”
Instead, their son is locked away long-term in Central Regional Hospital in Butner, North Carolina. His parents have to get permission from the guardians to visit their son.

Ian locked away in hospital NC I Team photo
Ian is locked away in a psychiatric hospital, long-term, against his familys wishes. Photo source.

According to the website for Central Regional Hospital:
Central Regional Hospital (CRH) is one of three State psychiatric hospitals in North Carolina. It is operated by the Division of State-Operated Healthcare Facilities (DSOHF) within the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services.
It is also a “psychiatry residency training site.”

Ian’s story is another in a long list of cases where the financial and academic interests of one group – psychiatrists and public guardians – are pitted against the civil rights and familial interests of individuals and their families.

The long arm of the state again overrides the decisions of parents who know and love their son and want what is best for him. They do not believe that locking him away from his life and loved ones and drugging him are the answer. The state does.

Ian parents NC I Team photo
Ian Bankert’s parents spoke with ABC11’s I-Team about the medical kidnapping of their son. Photo source.

Parents’ Concerns over “Overmedicalization” Well-Founded

In 2016 Health Impact News published an article by Gary G. Kohls, M.D., a doctor whose words stand in stark contrast to those of the psychiatrists who have robbed Ian Bankert of his freedom and his family.
Psychiatrists have long admitted that none of their drugs ever cure anything or anyone. They also admit that there are no medical, laboratory, radiological or biopsy tests to confirm that any given psychiatric diagnosis is an actual medical condition.
There are, however, thousands of lab, radiology and biopsy tests that confirm the existence of the long-term neurotoxic effects of the multitude of synthetic psychoactive drugs that continue to be given out in combinations that have never been adequately tested for efficacy or safety – even in the animal labs.
Therefore what the courts have erroneously criminalized as parental neglect must be re-assessed by the legal system. The parent that refuses potentially hazardous psychiatric drugs for their child because they happen to know more about the drug’s dangers than their prescriber, should be supported rather than punished by the courts.  And lawyers and judges interested in understanding the nature of the best neuroscience need to be increasingly mistrustful of psychiatrist “experts” who frequently have serious conflicts of interest when it comes to maintaining the prestige and/or economics of the big business of pharmaceuticals, medicine and psychiatry.
There have been more than 200 international drug regulatory agency warnings about the fact that psychiatric drugs can cause dangerous and potentially life-threatening effects (check them out here). When I was in medical practice, I was totally unaware of the existence of these warnings, so I suspect that most over-worked physicians and psychiatrists today are equally unaware. Undoubtedly, lawyers and judges are in the same boat.

Does Prescribing Anti-psychotic Drugs to Infants, Toddlers and Young Children Meet the Definition of Reckless Endangerment?

Doctors do not agree even among themselves in regards to many medical conditions that are more easily quantified than psychological disorders. The philosophy of conventional medicine has challengers among many different fields, such as homeopathy, chiropractic, faith healing, Eastern medicine, herbal medicine, nutritional healing, and countless other health modalities.

Health Impact News has published hundreds of articles chronicling the stories of people who have suffered abuse at the hands of psychiatrists and other doctors with whom they or their parents disagree. See here and here.

The advocacy group, Citizens Commission on Human Rights, has reported that professional psychiatrists are among the top white collar criminal groups in the United States, committing 40% of all Healthcare Fraud, and incarcerating over 700,00 people against their will every year.

6 to 10 percent of psychiatrists and psychologists sexually abuse their patients, including children as young as three, and the sexual crimes committed by psychiatrists are estimated at 37 times greater than rapes occurring in the general community, according to one U.S. law firm. (Source.)  (Continue)

Full Article & Source:
Parents Lose Custody of Disabled Adult Son for Questioning Psych Drugs

Protect yourself, family by creating an incapacity plan that works

Debra A. DeLeers
For many people, the thought of planning for their incapacity can be uncomfortable. The idea that you might lose your mental faculties, rendering you unable to make informed decisions about your finances and well-being, is not pleasant, but ignoring that possibility does not make it go away. 

Incapacity could be brought on by a car accident, illness or old age. Making a plan for your potential incapacity gives you the opportunity to think about what is most important to you and how you can best protect yourself and your loved ones should you ever experience a critically disabling event.
A proper incapacity plan often will contain estate planning tools and financial solutions.  Estate planning encompasses far more than simply making sure that your last will and testament is complete; it is about planning for life. 

As you begin to think about your incapacity plan, you should consider having the following safeguards in place:
  • Durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney for finances is a legal document that allows you to appoint an individual to assist you with all of your day-to-day financial matters if, due to illness or injury, you are unable to handle those matters.  Generally speaking, your agent will be able to assist with paying your bills, managing your bank accounts and/or investments, filing your taxes, managing any real estate that you own, and applying for or adjusting any government or retirement benefits that you are eligible for. If you become incapacitated and you do not have a durable power of attorney, your loved ones will have to obtain a legal guardianship over your estate to perform the tasks outlined above. 
  • Health care power of attorney. A health care power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint an individual to make health care and/or end of life decisions on your behalf if, due to illness or injury, you are unable to make those decisions. Your health care power of attorney typically becomes activated when two physicians determine that you are incapacitated. Generally speaking, your health care agent will have broad authority to help direct your health care by scheduling appointments, seeking second opinions and determining what treatments to obtain, based on their discussions with your physicians. You also have an opportunity to express your specific wishes with regard to end of life care and life-sustaining treatment or procedures. If you become incapacitated and you do not have a health care power of attorney, your loved ones will need to obtain a legal guardianship over your person to make medical and health care decisions on your behalf. 
  • Long-term care coverage.  Long-term care refers to a broad range of services that you may need to utilize as a result of a chronic illness or disability. It often encompasses medical services, therapies and supportive services, such as providing assistance with bathing, dressing, medication distribution and meal prep.  The longer a person lives, the more likely it is that he or she will need some kind of long-term care, whether that care is administered in your home or in a skilled nursing facility.
There are several ways to pay for long-term care, one of which is purchasing a long-term care insurance policy that would cover your home care or nursing home expenses in the event you needed to obtain long-term care services. Long-term care insurance policies do go through an underwriting process, and the premium is often dependent on your age and health status. It may be advantageous to begin exploring this option well before you anticipate a need for long-term care because you may be able to lock in at a lower premium.

If you purchase a long-term care insurance policy that qualifies for Wisconsin’s Long-Term Care Partnership Program status, you also may be able to protect some or all of your assets and still qualify for Medicaid in the event your long-term care needs extend beyond the period covered by your qualified long-term care insurance policy. 

Another way to cover long-term care expenses is by purchasing a life insurance policy that has a long-term care rider attached to it. The amount of long-term care coverage under these policies is directly tied to the amount of life insurance in force.  As a result, the death benefit of the life insurance policy will be reduced by any loans or withdrawals taken out to cover long-term care expense. 

If you have not purchased private long-term care coverage and you need to obtain long-term care services, then you may apply for Medicaid benefits, which will pay for most health care costs, including nursing home and community-based care for eligible recipients. To become eligible for Medicaid, you must be a Wisconsin resident and your income and assets must be below the monthly program limit. Generally speaking, you must have very limited income and assets before you will become eligible for Medicaid.  This often results in the need to “spend down” your assets. If faced with this situation, it may be beneficial to consult with an elder law attorney or a Medicaid benefit specialist to ensure that you are spending down your assets in an appropriate fashion. Certain financial transactions may trigger a penalty and render you ineligible for Medicaid benefits for a period of time.    

Planning for one’s incapacity is becoming increasingly important given that our life expectancies, together with the cost of care, continue to rise. Putting your wishes in writing and ensuring that there are appropriate funds available for your care can help to provide peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. Consider discussing these options with your legal and/or financial advisers to better understand what solutions may be appropriate for your unique situation. 

Debra A. DeLeers is a financial adviser with Northright Financial, LLC and can be reached by email at or by phone at 920-712-7800.

Full Article & Source:
Protect yourself, family by creating an incapacity plan that works

Woman pleads guilty to neglecting mother, stealing $71,000

A Charleston woman on Tuesday admitted in circuit court to neglecting her mother suffering from dementia.

Amanda Reavis, 37, pleaded guilty to felony neglecting an incapacitated adult causing serious bodily injury and felony financially exploiting an incapacitated adult before Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.

Reavis admitted she was power of attorney for her mother Tammy Reavis, who retired from her job as a delivery room nurse after she was diagnosed with early onset dementia.

Tammy Reavis wasn’t able to feed herself, move or care for her daily physical needs, leaving her totally dependent on her daughter, Kanawha Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Miller said in a news release.

Amanda Reavis would abandon her mother for days at a time, and she spent $71,000 from her mother’s retirement savings and monthly income for her own personal purpose.

Amanda Reavis faces a total of between five and 35 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines when she is sentenced on Sept. 19.

Per the terms of a plea deal, Kanawha Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Rob Schulenberg has recommended a sentence of between 15 and 35 years of home confinement and a $5,000 fine.

Reavis is incarcerated at South Central Regional Jail.

Full Article & Source:
Woman pleads guilty to neglecting mother, stealing $71,000

Friday, August 3, 2018

All Judges are Considerate, Measured, Conscientious, and Fair.....Well... Almost All

*This is a Nation that has acknowledged it has a problem with elder abuse
*This is a Nation that has acknowledged the court system is not working where guardianship is concerned
*This is a Nation “For the People and By the People”

10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 each day and this will continue for many years to come. A good number of those Boomers will find themselves the subject of an application for guardianship. Many will need it and receive loving help while others are headed straight to hell. It is judges who sit between the seniors and their fate. Those seniors have a right to expect that the Judges will have thoroughly familiarized themselves with their cases and will make a decision based on an effort to do everything within reason to accommodate the desires of the seniors concerning their living circumstances, their finances, freedom of movement and association.

JUDICIAL ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY came into being in 1871 when Section 1983 was adopted, and our modern Supreme Court has upheld this rule even though history shows that even in 1871 only a minority of courts provided absolute immunity because it is not a good idea.

In making this decision, our modern court looked at functional considerations, such as how often an office holder was sued for money damages and how much these suits interfered with the function of the office. The Supreme Court exists to support the intentions of the Constitution; concerns of an overburdened court system should have played no part in their deliberation. Do we send a murderer straight to prison because 10 people saw him pull the trigger, there is no doubt that he is the murderer, and a trial will simply clutter up our already overburdened system?

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness should never be the price we pay for a well-oiled court system. Human suffering should never be the price we pay for anything.

Full Article and Source:
The Silver Standard News: All Judges are Considerate, Measured, Conscientious, and Fair....Well... Almost All

 See Also:
The EARN Project

The Unforgivable Truth

Slemp: An epidemic that no one knows about

Chuck Slemp
It’s the biggest epidemic that no one knows about and the crime of the twenty-first century. Statistically, it is likely you will be a victim at some point in the future.

What is it? The answer may surprise you: elder abuse.

The term “elder abuse” refers to crimes of violence, instances of neglect, and fraud or financial exploitation targeting incapacitated adults and senior citizens. These crimes are far too common. Perpetrators use — with horrifying success — modern-age tools to commit these various crimes against society’s most vulnerable citizens. Victims are often socially isolated and suffer from diminished mental capacity or impairment. Scammers look for ways to target seniors’ trusting nature and their frailties.

According to the National Center on Aging, approximately one in ten Americans over age 60 has experienced some form of elder abuse. Fifty percent of those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are victimized. It is estimated that five million elders each year suffer this dreadful fate. Those victims are at a 300 percent increased risk of death compared to those who have not been abused. Last year in Virginia, 27,000 of these cases were reported to various Departments of Social Services. There were 369 reports in Wise County and the City of Norton, alone.

These are staggering statistics. Yet, this is just the beginning! These figures represent the number of reported cases. It is estimated that only one in 24 cases actually makes it to an investigator, social worker, or law enforcement officer! Even fewer end up being prosecuted.

The financial impact of these crimes is astounding. Because of underreporting, the National Center on Aging estimates financial exploitation of seniors costs between $2.9 billion and $36.5 billion annually. The emotional and healthcare related costs of the physical abuse and neglect cannot be calculated.

The most tragic elder abuse statistic is that seniors are far more likely to be victimized by their own family members than by strangers. Just like in child abuse or domestic violence cases, victims are oftentimes dependent upon the perpetrator for care and afraid to break the cycle of abuse. This explains why elder abuse is so underreported and why these crimes are difficult to prosecute.

People are usually surprised to learn that elder abuse is so prevalent and such a problem across the country. It is an epidemic. We should all be outraged and moved to take action. We should all seek to do more to safeguard our seniors.

To learn more about these crimes and how to make a difference in your neighborhood, please consider joining us on August 3 in Wise, Virginia for a one-day training that will feature national experts on this issue. I hope you will consider joining us for the event.

Moreover, I hope you will take a moment to consider ways to safeguard seniors in your own community.

Full Article & Source:
Slemp: An epidemic that no one knows about

Bloomington nurse accused of abusing, stealing from elderly woman

BLOOMINGTON — A licensed practical nurse working as a private caregiver is charged with criminal neglect of an elderly woman who died after her health and life were endangered by the suspect, according to McLean County prosecutors.

Shameka M. Curry, 37, of Prenzler Drive, Bloomington, is accused of failing to provide the woman with adequate care, including taking her to medical appointments, and to provide adequate nutrition.

The alleged neglect occurred between Nov. 1, 2016 and March 12, 2017, according to the charges. The woman died in May 2017.

Curry also is charged with theft of more than $10,000 from the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation, aggravated identity theft and financial exploitation of an elderly person by fraudulently obtaining $350 from the woman, said prosecutors.

Information on a financial statement filed in court by Curry indicates she is a licensed practical nurse.

Curry was released from jail after posting $15,035 on the felony charges that carry up to 14 years in prison if she is convicted.

Full Article & Source: 
Bloomington nurse accused of abusing, stealing from elderly woman

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Commentary: Failing Bridget: How bureaucracy harms vulnerable Illinoisans

Two years ago, my aunt became the guardian for an adult with disabilities named Bridget. Bridget’s mother, a lifelong friend, had named my aunt her daughter’s guardian and trustee of her estate before she died. While Bridget lives in Illinois, my aunt is in another state. So Bridget’s daily care is provided by a state-licensed provider who converted the family’s home into a Community Integrated Living Arrangement home. Bridget, who has Down syndrome, is employed and active in her community. Keeping Bridget in a familiar place with familiar caregivers and activities was important.

But when her care moved under the control of a CILA operator, Bridget’s longtime caregivers were let go and alarming changes manifested in her physical and mental well-being. To be more directly involved in Bridget’s care, my aunt decided to move her out of Illinois. It was at that point my aunt felt the full force of the bureaucratic state.

Illinois’ system of delivering services to our developmentally disabled is ranked among the worst in the nation. This shameful designation exists for a variety of reasons, one of which is mismanagement.

Care in a state-run CILA costs $48,000 to $92,000 per resident per year. In Bridget’s case, the state pays a CILA operator $81,000 for her care. By contrast, a similar home run through a Wheaton nonprofit program, STARS, operates at a cost of just $32,000 per resident. It is a program in which each participant pools a stipend they receive from a federal waiver program to pay for the home and other services. The stipend is not dependent on a participant being in a state-run or -licensed facility.

The bureaucratic state’s inhumanity

In 2016, in the throes of a budget crisis that was crippling social services, the Illinois Department of Human Services attempted to shut down the STARS home in Wheaton after receiving information that six individuals were housed together instead of the state’s limit of four. STARS invited the state to inspect its facilities. Inspectors issued glowing reports with no violations. Still, DHS wanted to move those being served in the STARS program to state homes, for which there is a current waitlist of over 20,000. Those removed from the STARS home might wait for years for placement in a state home. In the meantime, their families would have had to figure out how to provide care for them, and when a state slot came open, the families would have little say about where. The state often moves our most vulnerable adults miles from their home community. Eight families had to sue in federal court to continue in the STARS program. In negotiating the settlement the judge admonished the state saying “… (STARS) does it cheaper and better than the State of Illinois.”

The bureaucratic state comes for Bridget

When my aunt decided to exercise her rights as legal guardian and move Bridget into a better situation out of state, Illinois’ contract CILA operator sued to end my aunt’s guardianship. The state’s lawyers went so far as to tell my aunt she would be charged with kidnapping if she took her across the state line. The state operator then declared to the court that my aunt — handpicked by Bridget’s own mother to protect her daughter — was an unfit guardian. The court appointed a guardian ad litem for Bridget. My aunt is still fighting to ensure Bridget will get the care she deserves.

Legislative solutions?

In 2018, I filed legislation on behalf of the STARS program that would allow the program to house up to six individuals. DHS opposed the legislation. The bill was shut down in committee by Senate Democrats. Nothing threatens the bureaucratic state more than a new idea that delivers better, cost-effective services with consideration for individual circumstances. Currently, STARS is not allowed to operate at full capacity despite having a waitlist. The current administration could fix this. So could state legislators, by either using general revenues to fund the homes or passing my bill in veto session.

Protecting Bridget

We are all responsible for this. The people we elect have grown state government into a machine that preys on our most vulnerable instead of protecting them. And yet, we keep sending those same lawmakers back to Springfield.

Agencies — beneficiaries of government largesse — work with big government legislators to shut down innovative, thoughtful solutions.

This is the system that has been put in place with our implied consent. It has to change.

We will be judged by how we treated our most vulnerable. Are we going to hold government accountable or look the other way, failing Bridget and those like her across the state?

Jeanne Ives is a Republican state representative from Wheaton.

Full Article & Source:

Embattled Contra Costa County judge retires in face of misconduct case, but asks commission to clear his name

SAN FRANCISCO — A Contra Costa County judge facing discipline for the sixth time told a commission of judges he had retired in June and asked them to clear his name.

Judge Bruce C. Mills still took issue with a March ruling by the panel of special masters — three judicial officials who oversee complaints against judges — that found he committed misconduct three times and accused him of raising a dishonest defense.

During July 11 opening arguments in the disciplinary phase of his misconduct case, Mills asked the state Commission on Judicial Performance to reverse the decision against him. He insisted his retirement was not motivated by pending disciplinary proceedings.

“I’m not going to practice law. I’m not going to sit as a judge,” Mills said. He later added: “I didn’t retire because of this. I retired because after 23 years, I wanted to do something else.”

In March, Mills was found to have committed three counts of misconduct related to a contempt of court hearing where he jailed a man for discussing his divorce online. Mills was found to have effectively tried to improperly double the man’s jail sentence. In another drunken driving case, Mills was found to have had an inappropriate conversation with a prosecutor.

Possible disciplines include public and private admonishments. During his opening statement, the commission’s attorney, Mark Lizarraga, implied that Mills was unfit to be a judge.

“Judge Mills’ extensive prior disciplinary record demonstrates that he’s incapable of conforming to the conduct of ethical norms, conforming his conduct to the CJP,” Lizarraga said.

But instead of discipline, Mills said he deserved vindication.

“The special masters got this wrong,” Mills said. “You have a clear record and a clear transcript that backs up everything I’m telling you, and I’m asking you to reverse the decision of the special masters and square this away.”

Later, he added that Lizarraga had “got what he wanted, which was me off the bench.”

In 2016, Mills jailed a San Ramon resident, Joseph Sweeney, for discussing his pending divorce case in a blog post, ruling Sweeney had violated a previous judge’s order not to disclose details about the case. Sweeney argued that the details had been made public in court records.

In 2016, an appeals court upheld Mills’ ruling. But it was Sweeney’s 25-day jail sentence that ended up landing the judge in hot water. During Sweeney’s hearing, Mills said Sweeney would “also get good time credits,” and therefore end up serving “12 or 13” days. In California, nonviolent offenders can have their sentences reduced by up to 50 percent for good behavior.

Mills also said Sweeney would “only serve half of it to begin with.” But at the July 11 hearing, Mills insisted there was nothing to suggest he believed Sweeney would get good time credits. He said he later determined that Sweeney should not get them, and had his clerk modify the order accordingly.

Then, after Sweeney’s lawyer complained, Mills conferred with another judge and reinstated Sweeney’s good time credits, he said.

Lizarraga wasn’t buying the story, and cited the special masters’ decision that said Mills offered multiple, contradictory explanations for his actions.

“(Mills) clearly has had changing stories here, no matter how he wants to spin it,” Lizarraga said.

During his remarks, Mills also took aim at Sweeney, referencing a 2016 article by this newspaper about the case.

“Of course, Mr. Sweeney didn’t go back to the newspaper and tell them that the Court of Appeal ruled against him,” Mills said. “So while all of my neighbors and friends got to read in the newspaper how I violated Mr. Sweeney’s rights, nobody got to read the confirmation that I did not, in the one-paragraph decision issued by the Court of Appeal, that I handled this case exactly correctly.”

Mills was appointed by Gov. Pete Wilson in 1995, and served in a number of different capacities throughout his career. A former Contra Costa County judge and current defense lawyer, Dan O’Malley, called him “a workhorse.”

“He was great to everybody, his staff was spectacular,” O’Malley said. “It’s a shame his past came back to haunt him.”

Mills’ five prior disciplines since 2001 include a 2013 case, when the CJP found he had “created an appearance of impropriety that undermined public confidence in the impartiality and integrity of the judiciary” by interfering with a case in which his son was a defendant. In 2001, he was found to have coerced a guilty plea out of a DUI defendant.

The CJP may make a decision at its meeting in late August.

Full Article & Source:  
Embattled Contra Costa County judge retires in face of misconduct case, but asks commission to clear his name

Woman pleads guilty to neglecting, exploiting her mother

Kanawha County prosecutors said a woman pleaded guilty in a case in which she was accused of abandoning her mother for days at a time and spending more than $70,000 of her mother’s retirement savings and monthly income without authorization.

Amanda R. Reavis pleaded guilty Tuesday to the felony offenses of neglecting an incapacitated adult causing serious bodily injury and to financially exploiting an incapacitated adult, according to a news release from the Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office.

Prosecutors said Reavis’ mother, Tammy G. Reavis, was a delivery room nurse until she was forced to retire as a result of early onset dementia. As a result of her illness, she was unable to feed herself, unable to move and unable to care for her daily physical needs and was totally dependent on her daughter.

The news release said Amanda Reavis would abandon her mother for days at a time. She had power of attorney and would access her mother’s bank accounts and retirement savings and spend the money for her own purposes, prosecutors said.

Amanda Reavis spent $71,000 of her mother’s retirement savings and monthly income without authorization, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors have recommended she receive 15 to 35 years home confinement and a $5,000 fine when she is sentenced Sept. 19 by Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.

The neglect offense carries a three to 15 years prison term and the financial exploitation offense carries a sentence of two to 20 years. She also could face up to $15,000 in fines.

Full Article & Source:
Woman pleads guilty to neglecting, exploiting her mother

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Grandchild Allegedly Slit Grandmother's Throat After the 81-Year-Old Wet Herself

Brandon Smith
An Arizona grandmother died after her grandchild allegedly slashed her throat, PEOPLE confirms.

Brandon Smith, 30, was arrested and booked on a first-degree premeditated murder charge Sunday in connection with the death of 81-year-old Helen Smith, who was found dead inside their Chandler apartment around 3:30 a.m. on July 29.

Smith, who goes by Brandon Smith-Satan on social media, allegedly was “frustrated with being the only one in the family who cared for their elderly grandmother who suffered from dementia,” according to a police report obtained by PEOPLE.

After Helen Smith urinated in her clothing, Smith allegedly became angry, took her to the bathroom for a shower and slapped her in the face.

After she fell unconscious into the tub, Smith then allegedly went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife, returned to the bathroom and slit her throat.

Smith allegedly didn’t want Helen “to live like this anymore” and “decided to end her life,” according to the report.

Smith’s sister called 911 and told operators that Helen wasn’t breathing and someone had “beaten her up and sliced her throat,” the report states.

“The sister was at home and a second individual was there,” Chandler Police Department detective Seth Tyler tells PEOPLE. “When officers got on scene she told officers that it was her brother who committed the crime. She was asleep and woke up and what woke her up was Brandon carrying Helen out of the apartment.”

Tyler says Smith left the apartment before police arrived but was apprehended walking across the street.

Police say Smith was on probation for aggravated assault at the time of the attack.

Neighbor Marca Whitehair told KTVK that she heard the Smith family’s cries for help when they found the elderly woman was dead.

“I could not imagine, I could feel her feeling, walking in, seeing your mom dead,” Whitehair said.

“She was screaming, she was frightened,” said Whitehair. “She just kept yelling, like, ‘Grandma’s gone, grandma’s gone!’”

Smith is being held on $1 million bail and scheduled to appear in court August 6. It is unclear if Smith has retained a lawyer or entered a plea.

Full Article & Source:
Grandchild Allegedly Slit Grandmother's Throat After the 81-Year-Old Wet Herself

Georgia caregiver charged with exploiting elderly Tallahassee victim

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - A caregiver has been arrested, accused of lying on records to get paid thousands of dollars for work she didn't do.

Grace Cooper, 46, of Climax, Georgia, was employed by Hopewell In-Home Senior Care to provide personal and homemaking services for the victim at a senior living facility in Tallahassee.

Cooper is accused of exploiting the victim from the middle of June 2017 through December 2017 partially by completing false time and care records and forging the victim's signature.

Cooper is said to have taken $9,027.38 she did not earn when she did not provide the contracted services, according to a probable cause affidavit. Her employment was terminated on Dec. 22, 2017.

Charges she faces include criminal use of personal identification information of a person 60 years of age or older, exploitation of the elderly, organized scheme to defraud, uttering, and larceny $300 less than $10,000 from a person 65 years of age or older.

An investiagator with the Department of Children and Families determined that Cooper had only provided the victim an average of 20 minutes of supervision daily. She was under contract to be with the victim for three hours nightly to provide help with bathing and homemaking.

Cooper submitted numerous timesheets indicating she worked the full three-hour periods.

A closed circuit television showed that on some occasions Cooper only stayed between five minues to 20 minutes.

Relatives of the victim told a Leon County Sheriff's Office investigator that they did not approve of Grace Cooper altering her schedule to work less than three hours. They said the time and care records dated from August 4, 2017, to Dec. 21, 2017, submitted by Cooper appeared to be forged.

Additionally, Cooper failed to sign out on numerous occasions as well as signed in with false times on the sign-in and sign-out sheets, the court document said, listing the occurrences.

On March 8, 2018, the investigator phoned Cooper and asked her to come in for an interview. She refused to come in, the investigator wrote, told the investigator to speak with her attorney and, when asked the name of her attorney, hung up the phone.

After the investigator called Coooper again requesting her attorney's name, she called and requested the investigator's name so she could provide it to her attorney but did not identify her attorney.

She was released from the Leon County Detention Center on Monday, the day she was booked, on a $35,000 bond.

Cooper was arrested on similar exploitation charges in 2010 but was found not guilty.

Full Article & Source: 
Georgia caregiver charged with exploiting elderly Tallahassee victim

New state laws effective Aug. 1, 2018

The following is a list of select new laws passed during the 2018 legislative session that take effect Aug. 1.

Summaries of all laws passed by the 2018 Legislature are available online from nonpartisan House Public Information Services at

• Residential contractors and insurance adjusters must provide consumers with written notification in the initial home repair estimate that they cannot cover any part of the insurance deductible. Residential contractors — roofers, building contractors and remodelers — who work on insurance claimed properties already cannot build the deductible into their estimates.

• New provisions are added to what should be included in motor vehicle service contracts, including tire or wheel replacement, scratches and dents, windshield cracks or chips caused by road hazards, and key fob replacements. The law also defines what “road hazards” are for insurance purposes.


• The so-called “Safe Seniors Act” will give broker dealers and investment advisors the authority to report suspected financial exploitation of seniors. Investment advisors and broker dealers can often see when someone is trying to financially exploit seniors or other vulnerable populations — individuals 65 and older, according to the law, or legally defined as vulnerable — and the act will give them the ability to report the potential threats to the state, followed by giving law enforcement an opportunity to intervene. Abuse-reporters will have protection from liability. The law will allow a broker dealer or investment advisor to freeze seniors’ accounts or delay disbursements if they believe financial exploitation has occurred or will occur.

• Rights for foster care children have been established, including the right to be placed with their siblings when possible and to visit their siblings. Child welfare agency staff will be required to give a copy of the bill of rights to children upon entry into foster care. The law does not specify ramifications if the rights are violated.

• Foster family license holders and caregivers, and foster residence staff are required to undergo at least one hour of training on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders per year.

• Unmarried parents receive same rights as divorced couples in child custody process. Unmarried parents may file joint petitions for custody, parenting time and child support in family court when all the parties agree on the terms.

Child care providers will no longer have to publicly post the correction orders handed down from the Department of Human Services. Existing law required licensed family child care providers and child care centers to post a correction order, or order of conditional license, in a visible place in the facility for two years, with some exceptions. Correction orders are already posted online.

Health and human services

• Creditors will no longer be able to target health savings accounts in attempting to collect debts. The law allows protection for up to $25,000 in health or medical savings accounts.

• Certain child care providers are exempted from previously required training that teaches not to use “punishment of any kind” or “[speak] to a person in a manner that ridicules, demeans, threatens or is abusive,” among other things. Licensed child care programs serving children with developmental disabilities or related conditions must follow the child’s individual child care program plan or individualized education program under existing Minnesota law.

Local government

• Towns can provide grants to community food shelves. Cities have been able to provide the grants since 1995; counties since 1998.

Military and veteran affairs

• Existing statute gives qualifying individuals money to further their education after completing military service is clarified. Eligible service members are now entitled to use Minnesota GI Bill benefits of up to $3,000 per state fiscal year and $10,000 in a lifetime for certain tests and courses.

Public safety

• It’s a crime to knowingly misrepresent an animal in one’s possession as an assistance animal in a public place to obtain rights or privileges available to someone who qualifies for a service animal under state or federal law.

• Tougher penalties give law enforcement tools to deal with credit card skimmers by expanding the state’s unauthorized computer access crime to include interference with point-of-sale terminals to collect information from debit, credit or similar cards.

• Loophole in state statute regarding DWI offenses and off-road vehicles is closed. The law expands the prohibition on operating off-road vehicles following a DWI conviction and eliminates an exemption that allowed drivers to keep their licenses following an off-road vehicle DWI offense. Additionally, the law directs the Department of Natural Resources to work with ice fish house manufacturers to increase outreach efforts explaining the dangers of carbon monoxide exposure in ice houses.

• If someone pumps gas and leaves without paying, state law allows the gas station retailers’ association to contact the Department of Public Safety and get private, personal information to track down the individual so they can remit payments for the gas station.

• Procedures for handling a sexual assault examination kit will be laid out in state law that sets consistent terminology, timeframes for kit handling and provides that victims have access to information about their kit.

• Keeping kratom away from minors is one goal of the annual drug scheduling law that also adds new drugs to the controlled substance schedules and contains a DWI-related provision. Kratom is an organic supplement that has been listed as an opioid.


• Minnesota’s ‘move over law’ is broadened to require motorists to slow down on streets or highways with only one lane in the motorist’s direction when passing emergency vehicles — and other vehicles like tow trucks, road maintenance and utility vehicles — that are stopped on the side of the roadway with emergency or warning lights activated. If it’s not possible for a driver to move over, drivers are required to reduce the speed of their vehicle to a speed “that is reasonable and prudent under the conditions” until the vehicle has completely passed the parked or stopped vehicle.

• Minnesota motorcycle permit holders will be able to expand their two-wheeled driving education by driving on the interstate.

Full Article & Source: 
New state laws effective Aug. 1, 2018

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Where is Ms. Deane? Little old litter lady disappears

OVIEDO, Fla. - One day last month, a DCF worker, a priest, and an attorney showed up at the Tremont Independent Retirement Living facility in Oviedo, Ms. Deane's home for the past several years, and took her away.

Some of her fellow seniors at the Tremont watched it happen.

"All of a sudden you realized you're not seeing her," 92-year-old Libbie Asher said. "So I asked where is she? And they said she just went."

The sidewalks in front of the Tremont that line Red Bug Lake Road in Oviedo had been the cleanest in years, thanks to Ms. Deane.

Bernadine Lanzano, the 84-year-old with severe osteoporosis who is known as Ms. Deane, had been a fixture in Oviedo. Every day, rain or shine, hot or cold, she'd slowly stroll up the sidewalk with her walker, grabber and trash bag, picking up garbage. Some days she'd walk 3 miles.

News 6 first featured Ms. Deane last year in a Getting Crime Results segment. Ms. Deane's friends and neighbors contacted News 6 again recently to help "find" her.

"I want to know where she is because I want to contact her and tell her how much she's missed and that there's people here who want to contact her," 86-year-old Hattie Goodman said.

Court records show Ms. Deane is now in the care of a court-appointed guardian for her own well-being and protection.

A Seminole County judge appointed a temporary guardian to care for Ms. Deane after someone from her church became concerned about her health and finances and notified Department of Children and Families.

She'd shrunk to 77 pounds, according to court records.

Court-appointed doctors examined Ms. Deane and determined she is incapacitated and cannot care for herself.

Her court-appointed guardian's attorney, Kyle Fletcher, said the couple that was supposed to be caring for her had taken advantage of her.

"They were writing checks to whoever they wanted to, and she had no say whatsoever," Fletcher said. "This is a woman who is a math genius and knows her numbers and she'd forgotten what was going on. They'd taken over and were benefiting from her money, not her."

Fletcher said the couple transferred almost $750,000 of her property to themselves for a fraction -- $36,000 -- of what it's worth, they were paying themselves more than $14,000 a month from Ms. Deane's accounts, and they changed her trust to give them all of her assets -- worth millions of dollars --when she dies.

"They put themselves in a position to become multi-millionaires and they're trying to become multi-millionaires before her death, using her money," Fletcher said. "That trust was going to colleges and people other than them. And eventually it kind of evolved to multiple changes so they got everything, more or less."

Fletcher said there is a criminal investigation into the couple by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office Economic Crimes Unit and he is suing them for the assets and to have their names removed from Ms. Deane's trust.

The couple has not been arrested or charged with a crime.

They told News 6 that Ms. Deane was like family to them and they always had her best interests in mind. 

They said Ms. Deane was paying them willingly but they said they earned it for the care they were giving her.

They denied changing the trust to make them beneficiaries of all of Ms. Deane's assets upon her death.

Ms. Deane's court-appointed guardian's attorney said she is in better health and has gained weight but will not reveal her new location in order to protect her.

Full Article & Source:
Where is Ms. Deane? Little old litter lady disappears

How Sen. Chuck Grassley is working to protect our nation's elderly

There are more than half a million Iowans age 65 and older, including my wife and me. That’s about 16 percent of the total population in Iowa. Many older Iowans live in assisted care facilities, nursing homes or other kinds of group living arrangements. It’s critical that these care facilities and staff not only follow the law, but provide the type of care they would want their own family members to receive.

The Des Moines Register recently published reports revealing a disturbing lack of professional and compassionate care for elderly residents in some of Iowa’s nursing homes. Particularly heartbreaking is the case of one nursing home resident who passed away seemingly due to lapses in care at the facility. This type of situation should never happen and is preventable.

In light of these reports, I’ve asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for more information into what happened and what steps will be taken moving forward to stop it from happening to anyone else. This is the most recent case out of many that I’ve contacted CMS about regarding abuse and neglect at nursing homes.

Last fall, I pressed CMS for answers on why it failed to ensure that nursing home abuse and neglect cases are reported to law enforcement, as required, as well as its lack of urgency in responding to an early alert from the agency watchdog on the problem. Three of 134 incidents of abuse and neglect in 33 states identified by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General were in Iowa.

Reports also surfaced last year of nursing home workers in at least 18 different facilities taking unauthorized and humiliating photos of elderly residents and posting them on social media websites, such as Snapchat. Six of these incidents occurred in Iowa. In my capacity as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I called on Snapchat and other social media companies to look into this problem and do more to stop it. Snapchat developed better tools to report abuse in the months that followed. I also sought answers from HHS, leading the agency’s inspector general to alert 50 State Medicaid Fraud Control Units to be on high alert of the problem and investigate all allegations of abuse. Following my call to action, federal regulators issued a detailed memo spelling out social media exploitation as a prohibited form of abuse.

Reporting incidents and increasing transparency are necessary because reporting is key to enforcement, and enforcement is key to prevention. Nursing homes in Iowa and throughout the country need to be sure they’re doing everything possible to prevent exploitation, abuse and neglect of their elderly residents. If they fail, they must face severe consequences.

Some nursing homes within the Veterans Affairs (VA) system are also impacted by neglect and abuse of older Americans. Last year, stories published by USA Today and The Boston Globe revealed that the VA collected data showing very poor quality at some nursing homes throughout the country, but didn’t release the information to the public. This prevents families of elderly veterans from making the best decisions possible when exploring living and care options for their loved ones. In response to these reports, I cosponsored a bipartisan amendment, which passed in the U.S. Senate, that requires the VA to release detailed information about the quality of its 133 nursing homes nationwide, including its facility in Des Moines. This increases transparency, promotes higher quality care for elderly veterans and helps families make informed decisions.

Congress has a pivotal role to play in ensuring the protection of seniors. In my capacity as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, I introduced the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, legislation that was signed into law by President Trump last year. The law expands data collection, so we can learn more about the extent to which senior citizens are being exploited or abused, and it calls for the appointment of elder justice coordinators at federal agencies to better prevent and respond to these crimes. It also increases training for federal investigators and prosecutors and requires at least one prosecutor in each federal judicial district to be tasked with handling cases of elder abuse.

Another significant development in 2017 was that the Northern District of Iowa was chosen by the U.S. Department of Justice as one of 10 jurisdictions to create an Elder Justice Task Force. The multi-agency unit’s mission is to assist in identifying and prosecuting crimes targeting older citizens, including neglect, abuse and other instances of wrongdoing in long-term care facilities. Since its creation, the task force has appointed elder justice coordinators in each district, as well as a coordinator for both the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. This has led to increased transparency and prosecutions of those committing crimes against elderly Americans. Along with continued congressional oversight of nursing homes and executive branch officials tasked with implementing the law, this important task force will help protect seniors and allow them to live with dignity in their golden years.

The health and well-being of seniors has always been an issue I’ve cared about. I’ll continue to work to improve the quality of life for older Americans in Iowa and throughout the nation as long as I serve as Iowa’s senior senator.

Chuck Grassley of New Hartford has represented Iowa in the United States Senate since 1980.

Full Article & Source:
How Sen. Chuck Grassley is working to protect our nation's elderly

Alzheimers Q&A: Are people with Alzheimer's or dementia at a higher risk for abuse?

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, elders with dementia are thought to be at a greater risk of abuse and neglect than those of the general elderly population. Elder abuse, the center notes, is one of the most overlooked public health hazards in the United States.

There are various types of abuse. Physical abuse results in injury or pain (hitting, pinching, shoving, pulling hair, etc.).

Emotional abuse includes isolation, intimidation, harassment or threats and ridicule.

Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual activity with a person whose capacity to consent or resist is limited.

Neglect is abusive in that the caregiver can withhold or not assure the affected person with the necessary care or other support services.

Other forms of abuse include exploitation — misuse of someone's money, services or property — or extortion, which involves taking something of value from someone by force, threat or intimidation or abuse of legal or official authority.

The types of abuse most reported in the U.S. by caregivers of people with dementia are verbal abuse, physical abuse and neglect.

The NCEA reports that 60 percent of caregivers had been verbally abusive to the person for whom they care. Between 5 percent and 10 percent of caregivers reported actions that were physically abusive and 14 percent of caregivers reported being neglectful in their care.

Alarmingly, 20 percent of caregivers expressed fears that they would become violent while caring for the person with Alzheimer's or dementia. The caregiver's anxiety, depression, perceived burden, emotional status and social contacts factored into characteristics associated with the abuse of people with dementia by their caregivers

It is important to recognize signs of abuse, such as bruising or skin discoloration, burns or cuts, unsanitary surroundings, restricted movement (being locked in), withdrawal, weight loss or use of a person's money or resources by someone else.

In Louisiana, anyone reporting abuse and neglect is immune from civil and criminal liability if he or she acted in good faith. Adult Protective Services/Elderly Protective Services investigates reports and arranges for service to protect those who are vulnerable and at risk of abuse. Call (800) 898-4910. Additionally, abuse cases involving someone in licensed settings, such as nursing or group homes, should be reported to the Department of Health/ Health Standards Section at (888) 810-1819.

Full Article & Source: 
Alzheimers Q&A: Are people with Alzheimer's or dementia at a higher risk for abuse?

Monday, July 30, 2018

New study says rights of Texans being violated, SC allowing guardianship system to violate ADA

AUSTIN - A new study by the Spectrum Institute has determined that the Supreme Court of Texas is allowing the adult guardianship system throughout the to operate in violation of the mandates of the ADA and Section 504.

In response, the Spectrum Institute filed a class action complaint with the Supreme Court of Texas on April 9, 2018.

“Our complaint calls the attention of the judiciary to documented deficiencies in the guardianship system -- deficiencies that place respondents at risk of abuse and neglect,” said Tom Coleman, a civil rights attorney who founded the Spectrum Institute, a nonprofit organization promoting equal rights and justice for people with disabilities.

The complaint seeks to protect individuals whose rights are being violated by the system and who are unable to file such a complaint with the Supreme Court due to the nature of their cognitive and communication disabilities, which include adults who have been adjudicated wards and whose cases are active and adults whose cases are pending but have not yet been adjudicated as wards of the state.

“We reviewed the Texas Constitution, state statutes, rules of court, and reports that have been published by government agencies documenting deficiencies in the adult guardianship system in Texas,” said Coleman, who produced Pursuit of Justice, a film that exposes the nationwide abuses of seniors and people with disabilities under guardianship.

“We also searched the websites of the Texas Judicial Branch and the State Bar of Texas.”

Because the Texas Supreme Court is a public entity within the meaning of Title II of the ADA and a recipient of federal funds under Section 504, the complaint requests the Supreme Court to make the necessary modifications in policies and practices to bring the state's adult guardianship system into compliance with the requirements of the ADA and Section 504.

A copy of the complaint has been sent to various state agencies and organizations, including the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.

Court statistics reveal that more than 54,000 adults are under an order of guardianship in Texas.  Most of them are men and women with intellectual and developmental disabilities while many are seniors experiencing cognitive decline and others are adults of various ages whose cognitive functioning has been impaired by an injury or medical illness.

“Court appointed attorneys are often under the control of the judges in the probate court who order the payment of their bills so the attorneys are incentivized to please the judge not their disabled clients, which creates a conflict of interest and a scenario for potential abuse and neglect,” Coleman said.

The population of seniors in Texas has increased by more than 19 percent since 2012 to nearly 3.4 million. The number of vulnerable adults with disabilities -- between the ages of 18 and 64 -- has risen more than 6 percent since 2012 to 1.7 million and will likely increase an additional 16 percent by 2025.

Because such increases in both populations are predicted for future decades, it is expected that guardianship caseloads will increase, according to Coleman.

Full Article & Source:
New study says rights of Texans being violated, SC allowing guardianship system to violate ADA

Robert Indiana Lawsuit Paints a Troubling Picture

High profile cases continue to draw attention to the reality of potential elder abuse and exploitation of aging individuals by their caretakers. Most recently, a federal lawsuit filed a little over a week ago alleges that artist Robert Indiana, famous for his various “LOVE” sculptures around the world, was allegedly exploited by his caretaker, Jamie L. Thomas, and a New York art publisher, Michael McKenzie, in his final years (Indiana passed away on May 29).

In its lawsuit, which was filed a day before Indiana’s death, the Morgan Art Foundation accuses the duo of multiple counts of trademark and copyright infringement, alleging they had isolated Indiana from the outside world and created, sold and exhibited fraudulent artwork under his name. On top of these allegations, Luka Nikas, an attorney for the foundation, has called on the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to investigate Indiana’s death as a case of elder abuse and is seeking an autopsy to rule out foul play.


In the complaint, the Foundation credits itself with helping to revive Indiana’s flailing career and references two agreements between Indiana and the Foundation that grant it the rights to several of his well-known works. It then alleges that Thomas, who has no art expertise and was merely hired by Indiana to run errands, was assigned power of attorney rights by Indiana and that Thomas and McKenzie worked together to isolate Indiana and sabotage the relationship between Indiana and Simon Salama-Caro, the Foundation’s advisor. The suit goes on to blame McKenzie for “hurting the value and reputation of Indiana’s art.”

Past Red Flags

The suit wasn’t the first time that elder abuse has been suspected in the case of Indiana. According to the Portland Press Herald, a past publicist of Indiana’s was prompted to file an elder abuse complaint with Maine DHHS after she grew concerned about his isolation. At that time, DHHS investigators visited Indiana on two occasions and found nothing suspicious or inappropriate.

One individual who knew Indiana reportedly told the publication that he’d likely “vote” for Thomas if forced to take a side in the situation, reasoning that Indiana was the type to seek isolation and that Thomas was probably just following the late artist’s orders.

McKenzie also rejects the allegations and says he plans to counterclaim, describing Indiana as a “quite sharp” individual.

Proving Elder Abuse

Whether the lawsuit will dig up any factual support to indicate that exploitation or elder abuse, in fact, played a role in Indiana’s isolation remains to be seen. Similar publicized cases, such as the alleged manipulation and abuse of famed author Harper Lee, have demonstrated the difficulty in finding any concrete evidence to prove such allegations. In Lee’s case, there was much speculation whether her decision to publish Go Set a Watchman, the much belated follow-up to her iconic To Kill a Mockingbird novel, was a result of some sort of manipulation or duress.

Preventing Elder Abuse

The complexity of proving elder abuse, and the marked increase in exploitation of the aging population, makes the recent finding by a Wells Fargo elder needs survey that conversations about planning for preventative measures aren’t happening all the more daunting. According to the study, U.S. seniors are shying away from discussing potential later life needs, despite their children’s wishes to do so. One particularly troubling misconception is the belief that financial exploitation against them is most likely to come from strangers. In reality, the survey finds that 66 percent of elder financial crimes are committed by family members, friends or even trusted persons.

As Wells Fargo’s Elder Financial Abuse Protection Guide suggests, clients should be encouraged to have conversations with trusted loved ones sooner rather than later and have the proper legal instruments in place, including a will, durable power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney, to prevent themselves from falling victim in vulnerable situations.

Full Article & Source:
Robert Indiana Lawsuit Paints a Troubling Picture

Efforts to prevent elder abuse and exploitation in Arizona

- Arizona has long been known as a destination for retirees, but that makes more people a potential target for financial exploitation and elder abuse.

Nearly 1.5 million seniors are victims of the multi-billion dollar crime, and an influx of people to the Valley has made Maricopa County the fastest growing county in the country,

In 2017, Maricopa County added 74,000 people, or about 200 a day. Many of those people are seniors moving to Arizona to escape brutal winters, or to enjoy the state's picturesque beauty. It also makes Arizona a prime target for elder scams and financial abuse.

"Because of what I've learned over the past 22 years, I know that my mother could be the next victim of some sort of financial exploitation," said elder abuse expert Paul Greenwood.

Greenwood is one of the leading voices in the country on identifying and stopping elder abuse and exploitation. The Deputy District Attorney in San Diego has dedicated the past 22 years of his career to trying to help the aging population, and says children and parents have to be on the lookout, especially in states like Arizona.

Unlike physical abuse, financial exploitation is harder to spot.

"It's that subject that you don't want to even talk about, that your own parent can be a victim of some kind of financial exploitation. The victim themselves don't want to talk about it because if they're aware of it, they're to embarrassed to tell anyone. They want to keep it hidden, and that only strengthens the perpetrators to go do it again and again," said Greenwood.

The perpetrators are sometimes opportunistic strangers taking advantage of a wealthy estate. Sometimes, it's a family member wanting access to money and end up gaming the system, while putting their loved one in a nursing home they may not belong in.

Melanie Johnston is a caregiver who says she's seen that before and calls it imprisonment for some patients.

"If you saw what dementia does to people and their families, you don't put someone in a lockdown facility who doesn't require it, that's a travesty," said Johnston.

Greenwood says he's seen similar heartbreaking instances during the cases he's investigated

"The friends who've been friends for 20, 30, 40 years are being blocked from seeing that person, how can that be? The worst thing we can do is to stay silent, and ignore these red flags," said Greenwood.

Arizona's Adult Protective Services received more than 13,000 reports of elder abuse last fiscal year, although proving it is tough. Just under 50% of abuse cases in Arizona involve family members

"We should certainly have checks and balances, and I would also say that if you're an adult son or daughter living a long way away from your aging parent, you need to be more involved in their life," said Greenwood.

Late in 2017, President Trump signed the "Elder Abuse Prevention and Protection Act" into law, which provides coordination at the federal, state, and local levels to try and fight elder abuse and provides more training. Advocates say this is the most significant action taken by Congress in nearly a decade.

Full Article & Source:
Efforts to prevent elder abuse and exploitation in Arizona

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Grant awarded to help elder abuse victims

THREE RIVERS, MI (WTVB) - It was announced at this week’s Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency Board of Health meeting in Three Rivers that the Area Agency on Aging has been awarded a three year grant to provide services to victims of elder abuse.

The “Services to Victims of Elder Abuse – Victims of Crime Act” was awarded after the Area Agency on Aging got help from Probate Courts in Branch and St. Joseph Counties in submitting the 60 page grant application to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

According to data from the department’s Adult Protective Services, the number of substantiated elder about cases has almost doubled in Branch and Saint Joseph Counties from 2012 until 2017.

There were 59 cases in Branch County and 133 in Saint Joseph County last year which is an 45 percent overall increase since 2012.

The agency will start working on the project over the next month with the official start up on October first.

The grant would require staff members to serve as Elder Abuse Victim Advocates which would be similar to Advocates who respond to cases of family violence, domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Full Article & Source:
Grant awarded to help elder abuse victims