Saturday, December 7, 2019

In helping elderly parents, caregivers get a peek at their futures — and are inspired to plan for old age

Myrtle Lewis, 76, holds a birthday picture of her late mother, who died at 98. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
By Tara Bahrampour

Even after Myrtle Lewis’s mother reached her late 90s and could no longer drive or care for herself, she insisted on remaining in her home in Northeast Washington. Lewis, who was helping care for her mother, arranged for her to have a live-in companion, another older woman, named Kizzie. But watching her mother’s world shrink as she knocked around a too-big house clarified a few things for Lewis, now 76.

“After a while it just became she and Kizzie. They’d go to bed at 6:30,” she said.

Unlike her mother, who stayed in her house until three months before she died at 98, Lewis is open to someday selling or renting out her house and moving to a senior facility. “I want more companionship,” she said, “multi-age companionship in a group, and people who share some interests, and stay as involved as I can in growth and development and health.”

AARP estimates about 41 million Americans care for their adult family members, a number that has increased as life expectancy has grown. About 4 in 10 such caregivers say they have plans in place for their own future care, according to the organization’s 2015 Caregiving in the U.S. survey.   

Myrtle Lewis, who cared for her mother
 in the last eight years of her life, at her
D.C. home.
(Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
Often, people who are relatively young and healthy don’t spend much time contemplating what life will look like when they get old and frail — until they see it reflected in the life of a loved one.

“No one wants to think about their own aging. Everybody puts it off,” said Amy Goyer, a family and caregiving expert at AARP. “With our parents living longer, we are getting more involved in it as an ongoing situation. Our parents’ parents didn’t live as long, but for baby boomers it gets harder to ignore — it’s a repeated smack in the face of reality.”

Seeing a parent’s body or mind break down can inform decisions about one’s own old age, from the practical — finding a house on a single level, installing grab bars, touring living facilities — to the philosophical, such as learning empathy, shoring up social ties or accepting one’s own limitations.

Downsizing, Myrtle Lewis sets aside
items to put in storage.
(Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
For Richard Lui, 52, an MSNBC news anchor in New York City, becoming a caregiver for his father, who has dementia, forced him to grow emotionally. After his father, a retired pastor in San Francisco, began to have memory problems eight years ago, Lui started flying there each week to help care for him, as his father gradually lost his ability to communicate.

The experience, while wrenching, also resulted in a breakthrough. Seeing his once independent father so vulnerable felt like holding up a mirror on Lui’s own potential frailty. He also began to think more about financial planning and long-term-care insurance. “Eight years ago I thought I was forever young. But no, I’m not, and I need to think about that for my own health and personally,” he said. “I have to run toward the fire. I have to. I can’t run away from it.

Now when people ask how he is, Lui is more willing to share the hardships. “I will try to answer as honestly as possible,” he said. He also serves as a caregiving “ambassador” for AARP; the Alzheimer’s Association; Embracing Carers, a caregiver advocacy group; and BrightFocus Foundation, which supports research on Alzheimer’s and vision diseases.

Such clearheadedness is typical of people caring for family members, said Denise Brown, a Chicago-based caregiving coach who started in 1996. “When you’re a family caregiver, you’re not in denial about death and aging and what happens when we get older,” she said. “We know that we’re not going to live forever — we live it. It’s not necessarily immediate for most people, but we live it.”

Brown started caring for her parents in 2004 and made a vow to herself when, after a medical crisis, her mother was unable to return from a rehabilitation facility to her house. “It was awful to tell her she couldn’t go home,” she said. “I want to make sure I’m set . . . where I don’t have to rely on other people to pack up my house and move for me.”

To forestall this, Brown, 56, has identified a continuing-care facility she is considering for her next move: “It’s beautiful. It’s got a campus. I feel like when I’m 70 I’ll have enough energy for the move and then I’ll have enough energy after the move to enjoy it.”

It wasn’t until he became his mother’s full-time caregiver that Dave DiBella, 71, of Pittsburgh realized how unprepared he was for his own aging. When she fell and injured her hip 10 years ago, he retired early from his job as alumni and gallery director at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and moved in with her.

“That was a year of being tested beyond anything I could have ever imagined,” he said. “It made me so afraid that I’ll be dependent on somebody.”

To stave that off, DiBella said, he is consciously staying fit. He is also taking more seriously the idea of organizing his affairs, such as writing a will and designating beneficiaries. “I was a bit of an ostrich before,” he said. “Now I realize that I’m not the exception to the rule.”

Dale Brown, 65, a retired federal policy administrator in the District who helped care for her parents, is shopping for a condo that, unlike her current one, is all on one level, with an elevator and wheelchair accessibility.

“Once I get it, I’m going to set it up for the 95-year-old Dale,” she said. “I’m going to get lever door handles. I’m going to try to get a walk-in tub, and a room where I can put someone if I need help.”

Caring for a parent can also crystallize what a person doesn’t want. Jeffrey Slavin, 64, the mayor of Somerset, Md., and his sister have been decluttering their 94-year-old mother’s house as they care for her, secretly slipping out with books and other items.

That has convinced Slavin to start getting rid of his own possessions, including art and some pocket watches from a collection his father left him. “I’m giving away things now that I want people to enjoy in my lifetime,” he said.

Lewis, too, is taking steps now to forge a path different from her mother’s. Seeing her mom give up driving prompted her to get cataract surgery to maximize her years behind the wheel. “I’m trying to hold on as long as I can,” she said.

Some have a more radical take. Seeing her parents grow old and frail made Holly Tippett think she might consider ending her life rather than become incapacitated. Tippett, 57, a fundraiser for a nonprofit group in the District, helped care for her father as he was dying and was her mother’s primary caregiver for a year.

“It makes me realize that I don’t want to get super old and I don’t want to be a burden on my children,” she said. “I don’t think the quality of life is worth the burden on family and friends.” Recalling seeing her father, a successful business executive, reduced to incontinence, she said, “I don’t want to live like that, and I don’t want my kids to see me like that.”

For Roberta Youmans, 65, a retired Department of Housing and Urban Development employee in the District, caring for her mother, who had Parkinson’s disease with dementia, made her “a little more worried about aging than I think some of my friends are.”

Because of this, she signed up for Medicare B even though she already has a government pension, and she thinks twice before spending money on things such as travel. She also learned to appreciate small victories: “I spend a lot more time being grateful for what I can do. ‘Oh my God, my legs are still okay,’ having seen my mom not be able to walk. I can still smell. I can still see.”

“Little gifts, like, ‘Oh, she matched up two buttons, that’s great,’ when she used to do 5,000-piece puzzles,” she said. “I really learned a lot about life, death, aging, and what’s important.”

Full Article & Source:
In helping elderly parents, caregivers get a peek at their futures — and are inspired to plan for old age

Guardianship legislation: a timeline

1837 – Michigan law mandates that court appointed guardians must account to the court at least annually.

1974 – A Michigan Guardianship statute passed as part of the Mental Health Code specifically aimed at protecting people with developmental disabilities. The law’s stated purpose was “to encourage the development of maximum self-reliance and independence in the person.” The law gave wards the right to counsel, independent evaluations, a hearing, and a jury trial.

1988 – Michigan Legislature enacts the Michigan Guardianship Reform Act which covers the appointment of guardians for “legally incapacitated persons.” This law was aimed at protecting older adults and people with a mental illness.

1990 – National study of 22 states finds that Michigan’s guardianship numbers were steadily increasing and that Michigan far exceeded other states in numbers of guardianship petitions filed in court. The State Bar’s Elderly Law and Advocacy section asked the Michigan Supreme Court to create a task force on guardianships and conservatorships.

Sept. 1996 – State Bar of Michigan’s Representative Assembly unanimously adopts a resolution supporting a task force.

Nov. 1996 – Michigan Supreme Court creates the Task Force on Guardianships and Conservatorships to “examine how the judiciary, legislature, and executive branch agencies can better protect the interests of those for whom guardianship is sought.” Twenty-five probate court judges, probate court registers, lawyers, professors and others are appointed.

July 1998 – Task Force unanimously adopts 11 recommendations.

April 1, 2000 – Michigan legislature adopts the Estates and Protected Individuals Code, replacing the Revised Probate Code, to make sure any new laws will follow the task force’s recommendations. For example, when possible, that a guardian consult his or her ward about major decisions.

October 2000 – Amendments to House Bills 5919 and 5921. The first, and so far seemingly only, legislative response to the Task Force’s recommendations. Two separate findings must be made on the record for a probate court to grant guardianship; a guardian cannot be given powers designated to a patient advocate; that guardians must give a copy of their annual report to the court, the ward and any other interested parties.

May 2005 - Gov. Jennifer Grandholm appoints 15 bureaucrats, attorneys, law enforcement officers, insurance administrators, finance experts and elder rights activists to serve on her Task Force on Elder Abuse.

March 2019 - Attorney General Dana Nessel created an Elder Abuse Task Force and with State Supreme Court Justices Richard H. Bernstein and Megan K. Cavanagh went on a statewide listening tour.

Full Article & Source: 
Guardianship legislation: a timeline

How a doctor learned to become a caregiver

Arthur Kleinman and his wife, Joan, who died at 71.

After his beloved wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Arthur Kleinman discovered that what he didn’t know was a lot

Arthur Kleinman’s wife, Joan, began to struggle with a rare form of early Alzheimer’s disease at 59. Eight years after losing her, the Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor of Anthropology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and professor of psychiatry and of medical anthropology at Harvard Medical School chronicles their journey in “The Soul of Care: The Moral Education of a Husband and a Doctor.” The book is part memoir, part examination of love and marriage, and an intimate look at how 40 years in the medical profession left him entirely unprepared to care for a loved one.


Arthur Kleinman

GAZETTE: The book is so personal. Can you talk about the decision to write it and whether you talked to Joan about it?

KLEINMAN: I started writing a long time ago when she was just starting on her 10-year course of Alzheimer’s disease. She had a very particular kind of Alzheimer’s that affects only 5 percent of the people, and it began in her occipital lobes, which meant that she became blind first. To be both blind and have dementia is particularly trying, particularly for the person who has it, but also for the caregiver. Joan was 100 percent behind the idea of writing this. I came out of a background that was very unpromising for a caregiver. I was a very headstrong, heedless, and careless child. I was self-centered and incredibly ambitious and hard-driving. Those 10 years changed me almost entirely and made me realize how crucial the human aspect was. I was always good with patients and students, but I wasn’t like that generally, and taking care of her and seeing how sad and frustrating it was made me a different person, a better person.

GAZETTE: You were unprepared to be a caregiver. Can you elaborate?

KLEINMAN: My whole career was studying illness and caregiving, but it was the actual experience of being a family caregiver to someone I loved that I regard as a tremendous gift. I spent all of my time on things that I used to think were trivial, learning how to be vital about getting through it, rather than being matter-of-fact. The other thing I discovered was that no one had prepared me. If it weren’t for the neurologists, the diagnosis wouldn’t have been made for a year or two, but those doctors were hopeless when it comes to after-care. That whole field needs to change in terms of its understanding of after-care: how central families are, how essential it is to learn to work with then. What I really wanted to illustrate is that there are two health care systems in America. One is organized for trauma and acute disease. That’s a high-technology system that’s very powerful and functioning well. The other system is the chronic illness system. There, technology is doing very little, but it’s primarily the human interactions and that’s where it is failing. Most people don’t have long-term-care insurance. If we look at assisted living and our nursing homes, the system is tragic.
Arthur Kleinman
“If it weren’t for the neurologists, the [Alzheimer’s] 
diagnosis wouldn’t have been made for a year or two, 
but those doctors were hopeless when it comes to after-care. 
That whole field needs to change in terms of its 
understanding of after-care,” said Arthur Kleinman. 
Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
GAZETTE: You were fortunate to have the best doctors, connections, and access to care. How did the system fail you?

KLEINMAN: I felt that excellent doctors had missed what was most important, which is at the end of every engagement to ask the family member, “Well, you spend a lot of time with her. What do you think the problem is?” Think about this: No one at the beginning told me about a home health aide. We were three or four years into the disease before I realized I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing, and I needed help. My adult kids helped me. My mother helped me. But the best help I got was from a home health aide. I should have been told at the first meeting that at some point you’re going to need a home health aide. At some stage you realize, you can no longer be the caregiver. The burden is too great. For me, as Joan became weaker and weaker, and I was lifting her into the bath, out of the bath, into the bed, I was having trouble physically. I should have started to look earlier. I could have moved into assisted living with Joan, but no one told me about that. When we went to look for assisted living, it was so late in the course of her disease, they said, “You’ve made a mistake. You’ve taken care of her too long.”

GAZETTE: Joan brought the influence of the East, in particular China, to your life and your work. Can you talk about the part it played in the caregiving?

 KLEINMAN: What we learned the first time we lived in China and for 7½ years in total was the importance of family and the responsibility one has for each other, the interpersonal strengths one has to develop to be sensitive to others and moral commitments. That’s the insight of Chinese society. It provides that great genius of the power of relationships. It’s the defining thing in your life. There are a number of Chinese terms that I associated with Joan that helped us in this regard: renging guanxi, that relationships are moral, and qi, that each of us has a vital energy. And that’s what I meant in the book by presence. And it’s particularly presence that is critical in dementia or end of life because it’s so trying at times. And the idea of enduring, in the sense of how to live a family life of responsibility, guo ri zi. I think the American idea of resilience is overblown and not really relevant. Most of us endure. From the Chinese perspective, that’s your responsibility, to keep going. I found this kind of enduring the most difficult thing. Over 10 years, how to keep going. I believe it’s this human engagement. If you’re present, it’s this vitality that keeps you going. You feel, “I just barely survived.” Resilience doesn’t describe my experience. I barely survived, and it was a struggle all the time. And it was my sense I had learned as a clinical teacher that the suffering of a patient counts more than your suffering. I think if you get that balance right, doing the acts as a caregiver, that somehow also keeps you going.

GAZETTE: Since her death, you have started working on the Global Aging Initiative. What is the project about?

KLEINMAN: I had another topic when starting the book, which was trying to figure out elder care best practices. It was a comparison across China, Hong Kong, Seoul, Kyoto, Hanoi, and Bangkok. I was looking at how good care looks different in different environments. Now I’ve come to a much more specific topic, which is social technology for elder care. It’s an interdisciplinary project that involves engineers from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Conor Walsh and Fawwaz Habbal; and Winnie Yip and David Bloom from the Chan School of Public Health; and Ann Forsyth from the Graduate School of Design; Tarun Khanna from Harvard Business School; and Hongtu Chen and myself from the Medical School. What we’re doing tries to put together social systems with particular technologies to help the frail elderly and the demented elderly in China.

GAZETTE: What does that look like exactly?

 KLEINMAN: To give you a sense of this project, I’ll tell you a story. There is this excellent exoskeleton for the legs. We took this idea to the many elderly women in Shanghai living in high-rise apartments. We showed them illustrations of how this works. They said, “Wow, fantastic, but I’d never use it.” We asked why. They said, “It’s so dangerous to cross the road here. Cars don’t stop. We wouldn’t trust it. But if you really want to help us, we have six friends, all in similar conditions in different apartment buildings here in Shanghai. We would like to twice a week get together and go to a tea house. Right now, we feel isolated. If you could figure out a way with social technology to get us there and back safely, that would change our lives.” We had it all backwards. That becomes an interesting issue for technology and anthropology. Maybe the exoskeleton would be useful in this instance, but if so, probably not the legs, but for the arms of a carer to get them from a 12th floor to a lobby of a building, and doing this for six people. How do you organize this? Is it a van? Who goes with them? How does the actual human experience come together with the technology? That’s the project we now have.

Interview was edited for clarity and trimmed for space. 

Full Article & Source:
How a doctor learned to become a caregiver

Friday, December 6, 2019

Tonight on Marti Oakley's TS Radio Network: In the Mix with Coz and Marti: Shenanigans Updates and How to Deal With "Glory Hogs"

7:00 PM CST

"Tonight we will be discussing some recent the lady who was held in contempt of court for having the audacity to have a sudden seizure while his Royal Highness, the judge, was berating her. We will be be discussing other various cases that have surfaced over the last few weeks.

Also! Coz will school us all on how to deal with "glory hogs". You all know them, you have all encountered them. They gather everyone elses work and efforts and then stand up and take credit for them Glory hogs show up everywhere. According to them, they are always the "leader", the most notable, the most important and have an ever changing persona. Always insulting, always trying to minimize or marginalize anyone elses efforts, the Glory Hogs nonetheless, always claim they are owed some kind of apology. The Glory Hogs show up whether invited to an event or not...after all.....they are a STAR! Coz will discuss a recent episode she encountered, and how it affected not only her, but others on the page where it was posted."

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

Children of Casey Kasem settle lawsuit with widow over death

Jean and Casey Kasem on Nov. 10, 2003, at the
Beverly Hills Hotel  in Beverly Hills, Calif.
(Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES — Family members of radio personality Casey Kasem have settled dueling lawsuits alleging that the longtime “American Top 40” host was badly mistreated before his death in 2014.

The two sides filed a joint request Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit by three of Kasem’s children and his brother against Kasem’s widow that claimed her neglect and physical abuse led to his death, as well as a countersuit making similar claims against the plaintiffs that was filed by his widow and another daughter. The terms of the agreement were not revealed, and attorneys did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

Kerri Kasem, one of the daughters who filed the initial lawsuit, released a statement through a spokesman Tuesday saying she was “distraught and heartbroken over her family and lawyers’ decision to force her into a settlement.”

The first lawsuit was filed four years ago by Casey Kasem’s children from a previous marriage, Kerri, Julie and Michael Kasem, and his brother Mouner Kasem. It was a lingering chapter in a series of heated and often public fights between his children and his second wife, former actress Jean Kasem, that began even before his death at age 82.

The wrongful death lawsuit accused Jean Kasem, who was married to Casey Kasem for 34 years, of elder abuse and of inflicting emotional distress on his children by restricting their access to him before his death.

It alleged that “Casey’s early death occurred as a direct and proximate result of Jean’s neglect and physical abuse.”

Jean Kasem denied all of the allegations. She counter-sued and alleged that Casey Kasem’s children were motivated by their desire to get his money after he cut them off financially in 2012, and that they had brought emotional distress to her and her father, claims they denied.

The two sides fought bitterly over access to Kasem and control of his medical care before he died in Gig Harbor, Washington, where Jean Kasem had taken him from Los Angeles.

Police and prosecutors in California and Washington investigated his treatment and death and found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Best known as the voice of radio’s “American Top 40” for decades and for his sign-off catchphrase, “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars,” Kasem was also a constant on television as a host of shows and specials and as the voice of animated characters that included Shaggy in the “Scooby-Doo” TV cartoons.

Full Article & Source:
Children of Casey Kasem settle lawsuit with widow over death

See Also:
Jean Kasem files wrongful death and fraud suit in Washington, against Casey Kasem’s Adult Children

Casey Kasem's Widow Sued for Wrongful Death

Nevada guardianship office protects seniors from fraud, abuse

By Herb Jaffe Summerlin Snapshot 

“1-833-421-7711, that’s the number to call regarding any matter dealing with abuse or fraud involving a guardian,” urged Kate McCloskey, manager of Nevada’s Guardianship Compliance Office.

The office, under the jurisdiction of the Nevada Supreme Court, was created more than two years ago after some of the most contemptible episodes of elderly abuse had surfaced in the state, resulting in national headlines. They involved individuals, known as guardians, who gained access to the care of elderly people in need of assistance and monopolized their assets and income by circumventing a weak guardianship law that existed at the time.

By way of background, it can easily be defined as the perfect illustration of a law that was enacted almost two decades ago with the best intentions of protecting the interests of a segment of society. Instead, it created a nightmare when sinister individuals learned how to exploit its weaknesses.

Basically, the law was established to assist the elderly and juveniles by creating legal guardians, who are qualified persons who can step in and provide help of any sort in handling the affairs of such persons. But that’s where the criminal mind also stepped in, resulting in the financial exploitation of seniors and their loss of fundamental rights.

So how does this affect the Summerlin area? For one thing, Sun City Summerlin, Sienna and other senior communities in northwest Las Vegas are home to a large percentage of the state’s senior population. Secondly, a documentary, “The Guardians,” has been making the rounds, and the film has raised consternation among many seniors, irrespective of the fact that it depicts a problem as it once was but no longer exists.

“The documentary deals with guardianship issues Nevada experienced in the past, problems which have since led to considerable legislative changes,” McCloskey said.

Most noteworthy is the creation in 2017 of the Permanent Guardianship Commission by the state Supreme Court, which according to the state Administrative Office of the Courts was established “to address issues of concern to those persons who would be subject to the guardianship statutes, rules and processes in Nevada.”

The chairman of the 20-member commission is Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty. The commission is made up of professionals, including judges, lawyers, educators and advocates for senior citizens.

“I feel the statutory amendments that were made to the guardianship law are significantly protecting individuals against the abuses of the past,” Hardesty said in an interview. “I also feel that we have the template for other states seeking reforms. We are now in a better place, a much better place than a decade ago.

“I know seniors are still concerned over some of the problems of the past, but I can assure them that there are lawyers and others out there who are working with us to help remove the kinds of abuses that were prevalent in the past.”

The Guardianship Compliance Office was also established by the Legislature to help administer the stronger guardianship rules, help the family courts provide qualified guardians and legal assistance for seniors where needed, and work as a liaison with the courts to protect seniors from financial fraud or any other kinds of abuse.

Moreover, the office has established a hotline for the public to ask questions or register complaints. Thus the toll-free phone number of 1-833-421-7711 referred to by McCloskey.

In addition, the Legislature has created a comprehensive bill of rights to protect the interests of seniors. That document has already been hailed as a model for the rest of the country.

Full Article & Source:
Nevada guardianship office protects seniors from fraud, abuse

Senator Zaffirini recognized by AARP for guardianship legislation

Submitted Report

Senator Judith Zaffirini, (D-Laredo), received the 2019 Legislative Achievement Award from AARP Texas. The organization presented the award to recognize the senator’s legislative efforts to improve the state’s guardianship system. Her Senate Bill (SB) 31, which went into effect on Sept. 1, established the Guardianship Abuse, Fraud and Exploitation Deterrence Program, which will help prevent the exploitation of persons who need a legal guardian because they cannot care for themselves.

“I was delighted to receive this award and to have AARP Texas’ support in passing this critical bill,” she said. “We developed SB 31 after hearing testimony about terrible physical and financial abuse that went undiscovered throughout the state for years. I hope guardianship cases now will receive more effective oversight, precluding further harm.”

Zaffirini received multiple awards following the legislative session, during which she passed 127 bills. The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas and the Texas Library Association also honored the senator for legislation she passed in 2019.
“Important legislation often must be filed again and again before it is successfully passed into law, such as the Guardianship Abuse, Fraud and Exploitation Deterrence Program, which I passed on my second try,” she said.

Preparation for the legislative session that begins in 2021 is underway, and Zaffirini encourages advocates to begin working with her now to enhance their future success. “My staff and I already are working with stakeholders to re-file worthy bills that failed and to develop new legislation.”

Zaffirini’s work ethic is reflected in her career-long 100 percent voting record and her perfect attendance in the Texas Senate since 1987, except for breaking quorum deliberately to prevent an untimely re-redistricting that the U.S. Supreme Court (2006) ruled violated the Voting Rights Act and disenfranchised voters in SD 21. She is the second highest-ranking senator and the highest-ranking woman and Hispanic in the Texas Senate.

Full Article & Source:

Thursday, December 5, 2019

WRAL Investigates: NC guardianship program stirs concern

NC's guardianship program was designed to protect children and adults who can't protect themselves for a variety of reasons, including physical and mental health issues. WRAL Investigates spoke to three Wake County residents who feel our system is too rigid and infringes on the rights of those placed under guardianship. It's an issue anyone with aging parents needs to know about to prepare for the future.

Web editor: Alfred Charles
Reporter: Cullen Browder
Producer: Randall Kerr
Photographer: Richard Adkins
5:40 p.m., Nov 27

Full Article & Source:
WRAL Investigates: NC guardianship program stirs concern

Elderly man loses home after being financially exploited

Editor's Note: The name of the elder abuse victim interviewed for this story has been changed to protect his identity.

John never thought leasing out a room in his house would mean losing it.

But that's exactly what happened to the elderly Upper Cumberland native after he was financially exploited.

"I have high blood pressure, dementia and prostate cancer," he said. "This all started three years ago before the prostate cancer was discovered."

Three years ago, he rented out one room in his trailer to a woman who said she didn't mind paying rent.

"But I had come home one day, and she moved out," John said. "It wasn't maybe about three months until she moved back in and had two people with her. I told her she could rent out the room, but her friends couldn't stay.

"She asked if it would be all right if she paid more for them to stay, and I agreed to that."

Ultimately, the original woman and another roommate left.

"Anna was the last one left," he said. "I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and it came up on what was going to happen to me. I told her I'd reckon I'd go into a nursing home."

Anna wasn't happy with that answer, and agreed to take care of him if she could stay in his home.

John agreed to put her name on the deed to his home.

"I had been living in that neighborhood for 71 years," he said. "After she signed the deed to the property, she quit cleaning, quit cooking, grocery shopping. She just completely quit.

"I told her one day, I said 'Sis, if you want out of this, if you don't want to do this, I won't be mad at you. We'll just go back, and we will make the deed back to me."

But Anna didn't want to give up the trailer and land.

"She would be gone from the house for four or five days, and I couldn't drive myself on the account of the dementia," John said. "Turns out, she was on drugs. I gave her my food stamp card, and she used everything on it then said she had lost it.

"It was easier for me to just up and move."

Makenzie Fowler, CREVAA (collaborative response to elder and vulnerable adult abuse) advocate with the Upper Cumberland Area Agency on Aging and Disability, took John's case.

"Makenzie came down the next day to take a look, and I told her what was going on," said John. "I told her everything. She wasn't even shocked. She brought me food the next day. They (Mckenzie and the UCAAD) helped me every step of the way to get where I am today."

Fowler said John was financially exploited by a woman half his age who agreed to take care of him if he signed over the land deed to her.

"She had the deed, his food stamp card, and all of his banking information," Fowler said. "She even had his phone. When I visited John the first time, I had to go get his cancer medication because she hadn't even done that.

"When I talked to her (Anna), she tried to act like he was abusive to her, even though he struggles to get around sometimes."

Fowler moved John into a hotel room for a week while applying for him to move into a low-income housing unit.

"I took him to the hotel, brought him groceries and a TV," Fowler said. "When it came time for him to move into his new home, I loaded a truck up with furniture he needed for his new place.

"We got him a new food stamp card and got him a higher amount on it, too. Then we worked on his finances to try and get him more money each month so he can have a little more left after his bills and hospital visits are paid for."

Even though John lost his home, there's still a happy ending.

"Even though he can't drive, we have a bus that picks him up everyday to go to the senior center," said Fowler. "He and his neighbor, who's also an elderly man, are the best of friends now. There is a silver lining in this story."

John will be meeting more advocates at the UCAAAD soon about possibly pursuing legal action to get his home back.

"If there's something we can learn from his situation, it's to use local resources like the UCAAAD to help find a proper caregiver," Fowler said. "She wasn't even licensed to be a caregiver. But he was desperate for help. He didn't know who to contact. You can start with us, and we can point you in the right direction."

The general UCAAAD number is 1-866-836-6678.

The UCAAAD also takes donations of household goods. Right now they are in dire need of beds and mattresses. To donate, call 476-4107.

Thirteenth Judicial District Attorney Bryant Dunaway issued a press release last month about attacking the problem of elder abuse in the 13th Judicial District.

He said that statistics on elder abuse suggest that only one out of 14 elder abuse cases are ever reported and as many as one of every 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse. Victims are often afraid to report the abuse because of their dependence or trust in the abuser.

"A couple of years ago, District Attorneys established local Vulnerable Adult Protective Investigative Teams (VAPIT) in each judicial district across the state," Dunaway said. "Our VAPIT includes representatives from my office, CREA, DIDD, local law enforcement, Family Justice Center, and Adult Protective Services. The VAPIT team meets every month to review referrals of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation with a multi-disciplinary view. We do not want these neglect and abuse cases slipping through cracks. This remarkable team represents a united effort to protect older adults in the 13th Judicial District, a population that is steadily growing as baby boomers become seniors. That means the need for support services also will increase, as will the possibilities of abuse."

Tennessee state law requires reporting suspected elder or vulnerable person abuse. To report, call 1-888-277-8366 or visit 

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Elderly man loses home after being financially exploited

Man accused of sexually abusing coworkers at care facility

The women are also suing Friendship Health and Rehab, concerned with how they were targeted when reporting the alleged harassment to management.

LOUISVILLE, ky. (WHAS11) -- Four women have accused former co-worker Richard Coleman, 41 of sexually groping, touching and assaulting them over the years at Friendship Health and Rehab in Pewee Valley.

“It's appalling, it's repulsive to know that an adult male and that kind of control or influence,” Attorney John Phillips told WHAS11 News on Wednesday.

Phillips represents the four women who filed a civil lawsuit on Tuesday. The lawsuit claimed Coleman would made comments about having sex with infants and the elderly followed by statements like ‘age doesn’t matter, [explicative] is the same.’

“Sometimes he would approach them and grab the women's breasts and say things like, ‘it's milk shake day,’” Phillips explained.

Two of the women named in the lawsuit were 17-years-old while working at Friendship Health. The lawsuit alleges Coleman made remarks like ‘wait till you turn 18.’ Other times, the lawsuit says it got physical.

“One incident, he cornered her in a linen closet, refused to let her pass, and forced himself on her,” Phillips said.

The lawsuit goes on to say that woman said ‘Richard, stop!’ while he ‘grabbed her head in an attempt to forcefully kiss her. That assault ended when the tab alarm on one of the patient/resident’s beds went off and Coleman let go.

Phillips believes there are likely more victims, and some may not be coworkers.

“We have evidence that supports the fact that he had abused residents as well.”

Phillips could not elaborate but is asking any other victims to come forward. Coleman was criminally indicted in November on four counts of sexual abuse. The criminal complaint filed in August said he was dismissed after ‘a search of the defendant’s work history disclosed other incidents of similar misconduct.’

“The criminal case is to punish Richard Coleman specifically, the civil case which I'm representing them in is to get compensation for them for the injuries they've sustained, and to help pay for, again, therapy,” Phillips said.

The women are also suing Friendship Health and Rehab, concerned with how they were targeted when reporting the alleged harassment to management. The lawsuit claims that shortly after one woman’s report, ‘an unknown individual placed a ‘#metoo’ sign on the refrigerator in the wing where [she] worked, and new rules were created and selectively enforced only against [her].’

Another woman claimed that ‘Friendship Health withdrew an offer to allow [her] to continue working in a PRN position when she attended university.’

“The fact that they didn't fully investigate or prevent this from happening in the future is very alarming,” Phillips explained.

Joe Effinger who represents Friendship Health and Rehab released this statement to WHAS11 News:

Friendship Health and Rehab takes great pride in serving the community as a corporate resident of Oldham County, and it is fully committed to the health, welfare and safety of its residents and employees. Friendship respectfully declines to comment in any fashion concerning ongoing litigation and looks forward to continuing its mission to serve and enrich the quality of life of all its residents and employees.

Full Article & Source:
Man accused of sexually abusing coworkers at care facility

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Following abuse and 'financial exploitation' accusations, Oklahoma authorities shut down multiple care homes

By Josh Dulaney The Oklahoman

Three care facilities in Oklahoma have been shut down, several felony charges have been filed and two workers at another care home were fired, following accusations of resident abuse and neglect.

In February, authorities began investigating a report of financial exploitation at Four See Residential Care Home, or 4-C, in Boley.

Sisters Lavada Stacy Myers and Enetrice Myers-Tarpeh, co-owners of The Rest Haven Management Inc., are accused of stealing money from an adult male resident of a care home who has “the mental understanding and capacity of an 8-year-old,” according to charging documents filed in late November by the attorney general’s office.

They are accused of obtaining the resident’s debit card under the pretense of paying for his monthly living expenses at the home.

Instead, authorities say, the sisters used the debit card to spend more than $10,000 in makeup purchases, more than $12,000 in money wire services, more than $3,000 at smoke shops and more than $600 in airline tickets.

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Following abuse and 'financial exploitation' accusations, Oklahoma authorities shut down multiple care homes

Lincoln attorney arrested for reportedly stealing $60K from vulnerable adult

LINCOLN, Neb. – Lincoln Police arrested a 47-year-old attorney for financial exploitation after she reportedly stole over $60,000 from a vulnerable adult.

According to LPD, in April 2018, DHHS reported the alleged financial exploitation of a vulnerable person to LPD.

In 2014, Christine Vanderford, 47, a Lincoln attorney, became the court-appointed guardian for a 33-year-old vulnerable adult.

According to police, investigators served a search warrant at Vanderford’s law office, processed financial evidence, and found she had stolen over $60,000 from the victim’s account.

On Thursday, Vanderford turned herself in to police and was arrested for exploitation of a vulnerable adult and felony theft by deception.

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Lincoln attorney arrested for reportedly stealing $60K from vulnerable adult

Siouxland officials say senior-targeted scams ramp up for holidays

Caregivers of elderly Americans need help and support, too.
SIOUX CITY -- If you're feeling generous this holiday season, particularly if you're a senior, you need to be wary of scammers who are looking to take advantage of that giving spirit.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, older Americans lose between $2.9 and $36.5 billion annually to financial exploitation.

"They're very trusting and they want to help others -- scammers recognize that," said Tasha Jones, an elder rights specialist for Connections Area Agency on Aging, who will lead a discussion about scams at the Morningside Branch Library on Dec. 10. "Elders also don't question when people are asking for help. They just give in."

Jones said seniors are often reluctant to tell family members that they've been roped into a scam because they fear it appears as if they can no longer manage their finances.

"They're scared that their family may have them go to a facility sooner or they may lose their independence," she said.

Grandparent scam

The phone rings. The caller on the other end says, "Hi grandma, It's your favorite grandson."

The elderly woman responds, "Oh, Hi, Timmy."

The scammer posing as Timmy relays that he was traveling for school and, unfortunately, ran into some trouble with the law. Now, Timmy is locked up. He desperately needs money to get out of jail, but he doesn't want his parents to find out about his misdeeds. Can grandma send some money to bail him out?

Oftentimes, Jones said, scammers phish for personal information during the call, but she said social media accounts can provide a wealth of information to make their stories seem more realistic.

"You can Google search anybody, but also more seniors are on Facebook, so scammers can hack into those accounts and be able to look up pictures and identify names," Jones said of this scam, which occurs year-round, but seems to pop up more often during the holiday season.

Charity scam

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving has been dubbed "Giving Tuesday." Founded in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, this response to commercialization and consumerism seeks to unleash the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world by donating their time or money.

Scammers have taken note of Giving Tuesday and formatted emails and letters to coincide with this day of giving. Jones said they may even pose as a legitimate nonprofit, such as the American Red Cross or the Humane Society of the United States.

"You can copy a logo off of anything and ask for money to save the animals or some other kind of charity," she said. "Our elders are kind and want to be able to help out. They can't give their energies, but they can give their money."

IRS scam

A scammer calls pretending to be from the IRS. He informs you that your taxes are delinquent. You better immediately purchase Green Dot, iTunes or Google Play gift cards; otherwise, someone is coming to your home to arrest you.

"The IRS doesn't get paid in gift cards," Jones said. "But they call and they pressure the senior that has never been in trouble."

Jones said seniors want to take care of the matter before their family finds out that they have an arrest warrant hanging over their head, so they purchase and send off the gift cards.

Another variation on this scam involves scammers threatening to turn off seniors' utilities due to a late payment. Seniors can avoid losing their electricity or water by paying via wire transfer or Green Dot gift card.

"We know that's not how you pay your bills. But if you're a scared senior, you're going to do whatever the person's going to tell you," Jones said.

Red flags

Jones said some red flags that you're being drawn into a scam include, being pressured to act immediately and instructed not to tell anybody about a call or email.

"If there's spelling errors in the email, if there's not any way to contact anybody other than through an email, that's questionable," she said. "We always recommend to our seniors to start asking questions. It's OK to ask questions and to talk to family."

Seniors who think they've been targeted by scammers can call Connections Area Agency on Aging for guidance at (800) 432-9209.

Full Article & Source:
Siouxland officials say senior-targeted scams ramp up for holidays

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Exam finds Thrash “severely impaired”

Charlie Thrash, 81, who is legally mentally disabled is shown in a December 2018 photograph from FaceBook. Thrash's girlfriend Laura Martinez has been accused of undue influence and also spending the wealthy man's money. The case is in court.Photo: Courtesy
BY John MacCormack - San Antonio Express-News

For the past 10 months, the issue of Charlie Thrash’s mental competence has dominated a marathon guardianship case in probate court that already has burned through at least $500,000 in legal fees.

Thrash, 81, the longtime owner of a specialty auto repair shop on West Avenue, was placed in a guardianship two years ago after allegations of possible financial exploitation arose.

In March, a guardian concerned about his safety removed Thrash from a home he shared with his girlfriend, Laura Martinez, and several of her children.

Based on a mental capacity exam done in 2017, Thrash has since been deemed incapable of handling his own affairs. Nevertheless, lawyer Phil Ross, who represents Martinez and other parties, repeatedly has argued he does not require guardianship.

“Charlie still retains the mental capacity to make his own financial and health care decisions, to manage his daily living activities and to engage in his livelihood and hobby activities at his place of business, CT Thrash Differential and Axle Service,” Ross asserted in a motion filed two weeks ago.

Psychiatrist Jason Schillerstrom recently contradicted the assertion in a medical evaluation of Thrash.

In his report, the doctor concluded that Thrash “does NOT have decision-making capacity, “ and suffers from moderate dementia as well as “severely impaired executive function.”

“His insight and judgment are very poor. (He) grossly overestimates his self-care abilities, states he is ready to fly planes again despite his struggles to get out of a chair and need for a walker. (He has) no appreciation for his medical conditions and treatments,” Schillerstrom wrote.

The report adds that Thrash failed three of five “neuropsychological” tests and says “he has the problem-solving ability of a small child.”

Noting Thrash’s expressed desire to resume work at his now-idle repair shop, Dr. Schillerstrom recommended that he “not be exposed to the opportunity to use heavy, potentially dangerous machinery.”

It concludes that Thrash requires continued “24-hour supervision and a nursing home level of care.”

Laura Cavaretta, who represents Tonya Barina, the guardian of Thrash’s estate, said she doubts the latest medical exam will resolve the ongoing legal struggle.

“With any other opposing counsel, this would end it, but I just don’t see Mr. Ross letting go. He fancies himself a crusader for the poor underdogs who are being taken advantage of by the guardian process,” she said.

“I think the person doing harm to Mr. Thrash is Mr. Ross. Every time he files this stuff, we have to file a response and it incurs legal fees and prevents the guardians from doing their jobs,” she added.

Ross said Wednesday by email that he intends to ask for a second expert opinion on Thrash’s mental status.

“It is not fair to Charlie,” he said.

“I still have hope that justice will prevail. Hopefully, Charlie can recover his freedom and liberty again, like he recovered his capacity last year, before it’s too late,” he added.

Still unresolved in the case are appeals by Ross of rulings by Judge Oscar Kazen, including whether Thrash’s March 4 marriage to Martinez — contrary to court orders — should have been annulled.

Also pending is a motion for contempt filed by Barina, complaining of continued misconduct by Ross and members of the Martinez family, who this summer were ordered to pay more than $220,000 in sanctions by Kazen.

Contrary to the judge’s orders, Barina says, Ross and the Martinez family continue to be in contact with Thrash, have filed another complaint in federal court against his guardians and continue to file motions in probate court.

Barina has asked the court to impose stiff sanctions, including incarceration and fines. No date has yet been set for a hearing on her motion.

Ross also is the subject of two complaints to the State Bar of Texas.

On Dec. 9, a visiting judge will preside over a hearing on the bar’s lawsuit. It accuses him of “deceit, dishonesty or misrepresentation” in a guardianship case involving Sybil Sims.

In his response to the suit, which, if successful could cost him the suspension or loss of his law license, Ross has denied any misconduct and requested a jury trial.

Separately, Barina has filed a grievance with the bar over Ross’ alleged misconduct in the Thrash case. Thus far, the bar has not acted publicly on her complaint.

Full Article & Source:

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Attorney General Ashley Moody fires back at embattled former Florida guardian

Moody says Rebecca Fierle’s appeals should be dismissed

Click to Watch Video
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s Attorney General is firing back against a former Central Florida guardian under criminal investigation for how she treated patients.

Last month, Rebecca Fierle’s attorney filed appeals saying an Orange County circuit judge had no right to remove Fierle from her guardianship cases and didn’t give her notice to respond to the allegations.

Her attorney, Harry Hackney, says Florida law protected Fierle, allowing her to place do not resuscitate orders on her clients with or without their permission, or the permission of the court.

Attorney General Ashley Moody says Fierle’s claims of innocence have no merit and should be dismissed.

Moody also says the circuit judge who removed Fierle from all of her Orange County guardian cases had the right to do so.

Already, one of Fierle’s appeals over being banned as a guardian has been thrown out because Fierle’s attorney did not respond to a Nov. 4 order to show cause. Fierle resigned from all of her cases in July.

Fierle’s lawyer told News 6 he actually allowed that case to be dismissed and is instead focusing on the other two that are still in play.

The lawyer said he has 20 days to file a response to the attorney general’s findings.

Full Article & Source:
Attorney General Ashley Moody fires back at embattled former Florida guardian

See Also:
Guardian at center of Florida scandal appeals judge’s ruling that she broke state rules by misusing DNRs

Ex-guardian Rebecca Fierle charged Altamonte Springs facility $100K, illegally pocketed refunds, investigation finds

Florida Elder Affairs chief announces ‘immediate’ changes as embattled Orlando guardian Rebecca Fierle resigns from all cases

Florida professional guardian Rebecca Fierle: Devoted or dangerous? | Exclusive

Cremated remains of 9 people found at Orlando office of disgraced former guardian Rebecca Fierle

Expert’s complaint against Florida guardian Rebecca Fierle was ignored for years before scandal erupted | Exclusive

Orlando guardian accused of filing unauthorized ‘do not resuscitate’ orders resigns from Seminole cases

Watchdog: In Short Hearing, Fierle Given Guardianship Over Patient

Judge releases confidential information to authorities investigating former Orlando guardian Rebecca Fierle

Trio that cheated elderly woman ran wide-ranging ‘Latin Lotto Scam,’ feds allege

U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna, center, speaks during a news conference about an opioid crackdown in the Los Angeles area that led to the arrest of doctors and other medical professionals, including one person whose patient died of an overdose. AP photo by Jae C. Hong.

Three people who were previously charged in state court for allegedly running a lottery scam that targeted a Long Beach woman were scheduled to be arraigned today on federal charges accusing them of scheming to bilk a half-dozen victims.

Mercedes Montanez, 68, Luisa Camargo, 38, and Tito Lozada, 49, are each charged with a federal count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A fourth defendant, 43-year-old Maria Luisa Henao, is facing the same charge and pleaded not guilty last week. She was ordered to return to federal court in Los Angeles on Jan. 14.

Montanez, Camargo and Lozada each pleaded not guilty earlier this year in state court to one felony each of grand theft from an elder and grand theft of more than $950. They were transferred from state to federal custody earlier this month when the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed its criminal complaint.

The state case accused the trio of trying to scam 66-year-old Long Beach woman, but federal prosecutors contend all four defendants are linked to at least 11 incidents in which older women were targeted and robbed of cash and valuables in a scheme known as the “Latin Lotto Scam.”

According to prosecutors, the defendants would convince victims they had a winning lottery ticket but would have to pay a deposit or fee to actually collect the winnings.

The federal complaint outlines alleged crimes involving six women, but prosecutors contend the four are linked to at least 11 incidents since 2017 in areas including Maywood, Long Beach, Baldwin Park, Hawaiian Gardens, Fontana, Lakewood, San Pedro and Chula Vista.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

“This was an organized group that singled out older women for the sole purpose of ripping off these vulnerable victims with bogus promises of a big payday,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement. “While law enforcement will do everything possible to bring criminals like this to justice, this case should serve as a reminder to potential victims and their family members that no one should ever pay an upfront fee in relation to any prize, sweepstakes or lottery.”

Full Article & Source:
Trio that cheated elderly woman ran wide-ranging ‘Latin Lotto Scam,’ feds allege

Monday, December 2, 2019

NASGA Press Release: National guardianship abuse awareness organization applauds Michigan Lt. Governor’s decision to replace State Public Administrator

December 2, 2019
                   For Immediate Release
National guardianship abuse awareness organization
applauds Michigan Lt. Governor’s
decision to replace State Public Administrator

As both an advocate for victims of guardianship abuse and legislative change nationwide, the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (NASGA) commends Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist’s decision appointing Katharyn Barron as State Public Administrator as a hopeful step in the right direction in a state which has been plagued with horrific abuses of constitutional, statutory and human rights of individuals under guardianship and their families allegedly committed by County Public Administrators and Probate Court Judges for the past 30 years.

Although the November 22 announcement by Attorney General Dana Nessel curiously omitted any mention of former State Public Administrator Michael Moody, who held the position for over eight years, NASGA Community Outreach Coordinator Gretchen Rachel Hammond says the decision to replace him is long overdue.

Prior to joining NASGA, Hammond was an award-winning investigative journalist who published an August, 2019 groundbreaking five-part series detailing alleged abuses by now-former Oakland County Public Administrators in over 2,000 cases. The articles noted that Moody had been consistently unresponsive to complaints by desperate families who reached out to him stating that public administrators, acting as guardians and conservators, were isolating, abusing and stealing from the estates of seniors and developmentally disabled individuals placed under Oakland County Probate Court guardianship often after petitions filed by agencies such as Michigan’s Adult Protective Services which were not accompanied by any corroborating medical evidence.

“I collected dozens of emails from Moody to these family members,” Hammond says. “His consistent response was that there was nothing he could do and that these families should hire legal counsel. However, numerous attorneys told me that they would not take cases at Oakland County because fighting a public administrator who had been appointed as a guardian or conservator by any one of the four judges was a losing proposition that would end up in the threat or sanctions against the attorney or worse.”

“The uniform response was that public administrators who take guardianship and conservatorship cases are acting as private attorneys and, therefore, not under Moody’s jurisdiction,” Hammond adds. “But, with no one providing any oversight, these families go around in circles with no resolution. It has meant that these alleged abuses have continued unchecked, even after Nessel’s formation of an Elder Abuse Task Force.”

On the same day Hammond’s series was published, Nessel announced the removal of three of the four public administrators featured in her stories. As with Moody’s replacement, there was very little explanation as to why.

“The hope is that this second quiet move will finally help provide some degree of relief for alleged victims and their families,” Hammond says. “Michigan ranks highest in the states where we have seen massive corruption in probate courts. It is long past time for an out of control cycle to end and for thousands of victims and their families to have redress.”

For the past 11 years, NASGA has been a leading nationwide voice to curb abuses by professional guardians through legislative change and awareness. It has been an invaluable resource for researchers and journalists seeking to shed light on a topic which has received scant media attention.

Elaine Renoire,

Gretchen Rachel Hammond,
Community Outreach Coordinator