Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Woman accused of financially exploiting multiple elderly victims

Jaylon George
by: Antoinette Odom

FOLEY, Ala. (WKRG) — Jaylon George, 19-years-old, is accused of financially taking advantage of at least four elderly residents of a local nursing home, formerly George’s place of employment.

Officers and Criminal Investigators from the Foley Police Department, with the assistance of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office and the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Investigative Unit worked together to issue a search warrant for George.

This investigation is being conducted in a cooperative effort by a newly formed team created by the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office targeting financial exploitation and abuse of the elderly.

George, who was out on bond for previous financial crimes, was arrested and charged with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts of Financial Exploitation of the Elderly, two felony counts of Theft of Property, and one felony count of Possession of Forged Instrument.

The Foley Police Department says additional victims may have been discovered during the search and additional charges are likely.  George’s previous bond has been revoked.

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Woman accused of financially exploiting multiple elderly victims

Dementia patient and her carer sing Sinatra classic and hit number 7 on the charts

By Jakob Neeland

When 31-year-old carer Jamie Lee Morley first heard aged care resident Margaret Mackie sing, he automatically assumed that the beautiful voice he heard was coming from a nearby radio.

While it is certainly not uncommon for aged care staff and residents to develop strong bonds, nobody at the Northcare Suites Care Home in Glasgow, Scotland, could have imagined what would happen next.

The pair were recently thrust into the public spotlight as heartwarming footage of the young carer and the 83-year-old resident performing Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ at the nursing home Christmas party became a viral internet sensation.

And if that wasn’t enough, this dynamic duo have now recorded the song professionally and it is soaring up the charts in the UK.

Like many seniors living with dementia, Margaret experiences significant issues with short-term memory loss, but her ability to recall classic songs and the positive effects of this process highlight why musical therapy is an area of growing interest.

According to an interview with Margaret’s daughter, new-found fame has given the 83-year-old a “new lease on life”, noting that living with dementia was beginning to take a toll on her mother’s emotional wellbeing.

Margaret and Jamie’s rendition of ‘My Way’ currently sits at number 31 on the iTunes Top 40 UK Pop Songs live chart, ahead of international megastars like Ed Sheeran, Justin Beiber and The Black Eyed Peas.

But the single actually reached number seven on the charts just last week.

The single is currently available to download on iTunes, with all profits from song sales to be split between the Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK.

While Margaret’s vocal abilities may have come as a shock, her carer Jamie is a part-time singer who regularly performs other classic renditions of Elvis songs with Margaret at the nursing home.

Jamie grew up watching his grandfather live with Alzheimer’s disease, and topping the charts is allowing the young man to raise money for charity and bring joy to his favourite resident’s life.

It appears that Jamie has found his calling working with seniors, as the former barista’s musical talents provide a walk down memory lane for those living with dementia.

Picture courtesy of Jamie Lee Morley YouTube Channel.

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Dementia patient and her carer sing Sinatra classic and hit number 7 on the charts

Monday, January 27, 2020

Tonight on Marti Oakley's TS Radio Network: AUSTRALIA TALKS BACK, More on Jewish Aged Care Abuses

7:00 pm CST

"Mr. D returns this evening, speaking to us from somewhere in Australia. With the police stalking his home and attempting to arrest him for speaking out about the abuses that his father has suffered in what is supposed to be a safe place for his aging father, Mr D is on the run. His father recently remarked that it was "1940 all over again".

None of us are safe from the predators operating in these civil tribunals that engage in human trafficking for profit. As Australia wakes up to the growing issue of the kidnapping, isolation and theft of estates of the elderly, from which the Jewish community has not been spared, the anger grows over the outright fraud, abuse, neglect and premature deaths of the elderly. While many people are extremely upset about the revelations that have exposed the ugly under belly of so-called "government", there are others who would prefer to look away and pretend they don't know.

Please visit: Australian Association to Stop Guardianship & Admin Abuse (AASGAA) on Facebook for more information and to connect with others from all walks of life that have found their family trapped in this system." ...

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later
Australian Association to Stop Guardian Abuse - AASGAA

Father and adult daughter sue feds over confiscated life savings

By Theresa Braine

Rebecca Brown wants the government to give back her father's $82,373. (Institute for Justice)
Retired railroad worker Terry Rolin and his parents, scarred by their experiences during the Great Depression, used to squirrel earnings and pension withdrawals in the basement of their Pennsylvania home.

But his decision to hand the money to daughter Rebecca Brown for deposit in a bank account after he moved out of his family home into an apartment realized his worst fears. The government has confiscated the 79-year-old’s $82,373 life savings, and does not plan to give it back, according to a lawsuit.

Federal officials call it a necessary tool to combat crime. But to Rolin and his daughter, Rebecca Brown, it’s outright robbery.

As Brown traveled from Pittsburgh to her Massachusetts home last summer, carrying the money that her father had entrusted to her, she was stopped by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Transportation Security Administration. Even though she was carrying the money domestically, which is perfectly legal, they challenged her over the amount, then took it away.

To date, Rolin has yet to retrieve the money. On Wednesday they sued both agencies both on their behalf and seeking class action status for the legions of people in their position.

Brown had been carrying her father’s money to deposit in a joint account, she said in a statement from the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit with a libertarian bent that works to safeguard people’s constitutional rights.

She stuffed it into a plastic container and stowed it in her carry-on luggage, having checked online to determine that carrying that amount of cash domestically was legal.

The DEA agent who met Brown at the gate wanted her to corroborate her story by calling her father, she told The Washington Post. But Rolin has started to decline mentally, so he could not verify everything the agent thought he should.

“He just handed me the phone and said, ‘Your stories don’t match,’ ” Brown told The Washington Post. “ ‘We’re seizing the cash.’ ”

They searched her bags, finding no contraband. Neither has a criminal record.

That was last summer. A few months later, the Institute for Justice said in a statement, both received notice that the money would be permanently confiscated under civil forfeiture, which allows law enforcement to take money even in the absence of a criminal conviction. In their case, they haven’t even been charged.

“You don’t forfeit your constitutional rights when you try to board an airplane,” justice institute senior attorney Dan Alban said in a statement. “It is time for TSA and federal law enforcement to stop seizing cash from travelers simply because the government considers certain amounts of cash ‘suspicious.’ ”

Neither agency would comment, according to The Washington Post, with DEA spokeswoman Katherine Pfaff saying, “We can’t comment on ongoing litigation,” and a TSA spokeswoman, Jenny L. Burke, telling the newspaper by email that “as a matter of policy, TSA does not comment on pending litigation.”

The 52-page suit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for Pennsylvania’s Western District, seeks return of the money, as well as “compensatory damages,” and to “put these systematic unlawful and unconstitutional policies and practices to an end.”

“Terry’s and Rebecca’s story is not unique,” the lawsuit alleges. “What happened to them illustrates the systematic policies or practices of TSA and DEA: seizing cash from air travelers based solely on the presence of what these agencies believe to be ‘large’ or ‘suspicious’ amounts of cash.”

“We did nothing wrong and haven’t been charged with any crime, yet the DEA is trying to take my father’s life savings,” Brown told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “His savings should be returned right away, and the government should stop taking money from Americans who are doing something completely legal."

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Father and adult daughter sue feds over confiscated life savings

NAIFA-New Jersey Promotes Law to Protect Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation

Trenton, NJ –Thousands of seniors and other vulnerable adults in this country each year fall victim to financial exploitation, often losing their entire life savings to unscrupulous people. The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors’ New Jersey chapter (NAIFA-New Jersey) has helped enact a law to protect this defenseless group from exploitation. This legislation, A-5091 (McKeon), was signed into law by Governor Murphy on January 13, 2020.

“NAIFA-NJ members work hard to protect their clients,” said NAIFA-NJ President Corrado Gugliotta. “A law such as this is one more tool the professional members of NAIFA-NJ will have to keep older adults safe.”

Under the new law, a qualified individual who reasonably believes that financial exploitation of an eligible adult has occurred would be required to notify the Bureau of Securities as well as any applicable county adult protective services provider. A “qualified individual” is any agent, investment adviser representative or other person that serves in a supervisory, compliance, or legal capacity for a broker-dealer or investment advisor.

“Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for senior citizens to be taken advantage of by people seeking to take their money, property, assets or identities,” said Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex, Morris) in a statement. “These crimes often go unreported and untracked. The good news is financial exploitation can be prevented with the right protections in place.”

Furthermore, the broker-dealer or investment advisor may delay disbursement from an eligible adult’s account if it may result in financial exploitation. In so doing, the broker-dealer or investment advisor would be immune from any administrative or civil liability.

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NAIFA-New Jersey Promotes Law to Protect Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation

Elder Law: Will you plan now or pay later?

By Wesley E. Wright and Molly Dear Abshire

Estate planning attorneys will agree, it’s better to die with a properly drafted Will than to die without one. If you don’t have one, consider getting one. You will want to direct your assets to those persons whom you wish to receive a legacy as opposed to relying on the alternative, which is a default plan arranged for you by the State of Texas.

You will also want to name an independent executor along with successors in the event the first executor fails, refuses, or becomes unable to serve. You may also want to include special trusts to provide for family members who are disabled as well as trusts for minors and perhaps adult children.

Here are three big considerations you may not have thought of before that may require changes to your estate plan or motivate you to get one. Years ago, the exemption equivalent, which allows a person to leave a certain amount of money to beneficiaries tax-free was much smaller.

The law required a person to either use it or lose it. For example, if in 1987, when the exemption equivalent was $600,000 per taxpayer, a couple was forced to use a by-pass trust in order to shelter the first $600,000 upon the first to die in order to take advantage of the exemption. The exemption will be $11.58 million in 2020. Additionally, the law has changed regarding “use it or lose it”. While there may still be relevant reasons to use a forced by-pass trust in a person’s Will, in some cases, it may be time to eliminate it.

Secondly, consider implementing planning to exercise some control over your assets after you pass away. Let’s say George and Martha have three children. George dies leaving his assets to Martha, then Martha dies leaving all of her assets to their three children. One of the children, Susan, dies after her mother. Susan’s Will leaves all of her assets to her husband, Frank. Frank later remarries. The new bride may be spending Frank’s money and depending on the circumstances, may burn up all of the assets, leaving nothing for Susan and Frank’s children. Would George and Martha want their assets to be used by a stranger instead of going to their own grandchildren?

Thirdly, you could have a heart attack, a stroke, or an unfortunate incident, such as an auto accident. Those events can happen suddenly with no warning. You were healthy and then suddenly you become severely disabled. We should all plan like it might happen to us. Why would a person want to pass up the opportunity to prepare documents such as powers of attorney for property, powers of attorney for health care, living wills and medical privacy documents?

Becoming the subject of a court supervised guardianship proceeding which becomes a matter of public record for all the world to see, not to mention the unnecessary expense and frustration of a guardianship that could have been avoided had you just taken care of preparing the appropriate documents. And why would you want to procrastinate making a Will and then die suddenly not ever having taken time to make your Will? Now your family will have to pay more for a more costly probate proceeding.

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Elder Law: Will you plan now or pay later?

Sunday, January 26, 2020

She’s 91 and Is Being Kicked Out of Her Apartment

Dozens of residents of an independent living community in Manhattan — some as old as 99 — are being forced out of the homes they thought they’d die in.

Credit...Photographs by Karsten Moran for The New York Times
By Sharon Otterman

Gabrielle Wagner, 91, moved into the Riverview Senior Independent Living facility last April after her identical twin, whom she had lived with, died in 2018. She had been lonely and the modern apartment tower in Hell’s Kitchen felt less like assisted living and more like a comfortable community for active seniors where she could live out her days.

“I thought I’d go out feet first,” she said just before Christmas. “I thought I’d finally found a place I can stay in until I die.”

Muriel Fisher, 86, left her $811-a-month, rent-controlled, two-bedroom apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens, to move in to a studio at the Riverview in 2018. Her grandson, who lives on the same Manhattan block as the center, insisted it was no longer safe for her to be alone.

Milton Gluck, also 86, moved in three months ago to be closer to his son, after his partner of 30 years entered a nursing home. He hasn’t yet fully unpacked.

Then, on Dec. 3, the building’s management distributed a surprise letter to all the residents. Riverview was being sold, it said, “sometime in the first few months of 2020.” Everyone would have to leave.

The nonprofit that owns the building said the center, which opened less than two years ago, had been losing money and it could no longer afford to run it. The group was seeking a market-rate buyer.

The news sent the 31 residents of Riverview — who are nearly all in their 70s, 80s and 90s — into a panic, unsure of where they would go.
New York City is in the grips of an affordable housing crunch for seniors — the latest data shows an estimated 200,000 low-income seniors were on waiting lists for federally subsidized housing in 2016 citywide — and middle-income seniors are also struggling to find homes that fit their needs.

At the high end, there are luxury independent living options in Manhattan like the Atria on West 86th Street, where fees soar to over $11,000 a month for a one-bedroom, and the Inspir, an even more expensive option opening on the Upper East Side.

For older New Yorkers in the middle — even those who can afford Riverview’s rates of about $4,000 a month for a small apartment, three meals a day, housekeeping and some social events — the options are limited. And when you’re a nonagenarian looking for what may be your last home, it’s not just about finding an open spot.

The EastView, a new independent living facility that the Salvation Army just opened in Harlem, has space, but many residents felt it was too far from their families. The West 74th Street Residence, which has interviewed several Riverview residents, was less expensive, but had less charm, some said.

Nothing felt like the Riverview, a 14-story building at 49th Street and 10th Avenue in the heart of Midtown. Several residents described falling in love with its hotel-like hallways, modern finishes and Hudson River views. So its residents, many using pensions from careers as educators, engineers or public servants, sold homes, left friends and moved in.

For Stuart Dunn, 90, it was the second time that his senior living landlord was asking him to move in order to sell the property. Until 2018, he lived in the Williams on the Upper West Side, a Salvation Army-owned independent living residence that was closed to make way for luxury housing.

“It is a societal issue that we really are at the cutting edge of,” he said, of the difficulty of finding a quality place to live with other independent seniors. “What is society going to do about the elderly?”

He said he most feared losing contact with his fellow residents, particularly Ms. Fisher, with whom he had become very close.

Credit...Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Some residents are meeting with lawyers to see what else can be done. About five have already moved out.

One has died, and another, who has been in the hospital, has not been able to deal with the news completely. “They are fearful of what is going to happen, and overwhelmed,” Joel Riff, 68, who is among the younger residents. “The mood is pretty depressed.”

They were particularly surprised, they said, because Riverview is owned by a nonprofit corporation that largely operates homeless shelters, Homes for the Homeless. After losing its city contract to run the building as a family homeless shelter in 2015, the organization decided to renovate and reopen the facility as an independent living building in early 2018, said Ralph da Costa Nunez, the chief executive officer of Homes for the Homeless.

The organization had succeeded with a similar conversion in Staten Island, and thought it could do the same in Manhattan. But Riverview never filled more than 35 or so of its 82 apartments, he said.

The residents felt that Riverview had not adequately marketed itself. Some said that they knew seniors who had reached out to explore moving in, but that the management had not followed up with them. Mr. da Costa Nunez disputed that account. He said there were likely not enough interested residents because Riverview did not offer assisted living services, and some families wanted the option of more comprehensive care as their family members aged.

Assisted living centers are regulated by the New York Department of Health, which provides additional protections to residents. But the Riverview, though it marketed itself as a place where seniors could bring private aides, had no such designation. As a result, the seniors, who had only month-to-month contracts, were vulnerable to eviction.

Mr. da Costa Nunez said that his organization could no longer afford to run the facility at a loss. “We are getting killed” with the costs of food, staffing and utilities, he said, adding that part of the issue was that the seniors were keeping the heat too high.

The losses, which he said amounted to “several million dollars already,” had started to threaten the operation of the senior facility in Staten Island, he said.

“No one wants to shut this down,” he said, “but Economics 101 is Economics 101.” He added that the closure “won’t happen before April for sure,” though the management had not stated the same in writing to the residents.

As the losses spiraled, residents said, the nonprofit repeatedly reassured its tenants not to worry and kept signing new contracts. Among the most fragile residents are a 99-year-old Holocaust survivor, who has no family and is looked after by an organization, Selfhelp Community Services, and Mildred Burt, 95, who arrived in March at the urging of a niece.

Ms. Burt had come from a public-housing project where she had lived for 60 years. Her niece, Pat Jackson, said: “Where does that leave me? With an aunt who is 95 years old who is basically homeless, and not much time to look. This is just heartless.”

Determined to fight back, the seniors formed a committee and contacted their elected officials. Five local elected officials signed a joint letter to Mr. da Costa Nunez demanding more time and support to the displaced seniors. 

“They are slipping through the regulatory framework,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman, who represents the area, vowing to look into the matter further. “That seems to be duplicitous.”

Mr. Nunez himself earned over $620,000 in 2018 as the director of Homes for the Homeless and its nonprofit affiliates, according to tax documents. At a heated meeting with elected officials on Dec. 19, he claimed to be surprised by the angry reaction to the closure and “questioned why these seniors can’t fend for themselves,” Mr. Hoylman recalled.

As the issue gained attention, Riverview sent residents a follow-up letter on Dec. 20, saying that the building would “likely” not be sold until April.

“No one is being thrown out,” the letter said.

Credit...Karsten Moran for The New York Times
“We are going to run the place until we can transition every person out of there appropriately,” Mr. Nunez said in the interview.

Amid the uncertainty, the seniors have begun to plan their next steps. Both Mr. Dunn and Ms. Fisher have put deposits down at the Carnegie East House on East 96th Street, where assisted-living studios with meals start at $6,400 a month, a stretch for them. Ms. Wagner is moving March 1 to the EastView in Harlem, selling some of her furniture to do so.

“Luckily for me, I was a Navy wife, so I know what moving is all about,” she said. “Not that I am looking forward to it.”

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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She’s 91 and Is Being Kicked Out of Her Apartment

Patients Want To Die At Home, But Home Hospice Care Can Be Tough On Families

Maria Fabrizio for WPLN
"I'm not anti-hospice at all," says Joy Johnston, a writer from Atlanta. "But I think people aren't prepared for all the effort that it takes to give someone a good death at home."

Even though surveys show it's what most Americans say they want, dying at home is "not all it's cracked up to be," says Johnston, who relocated to New Mexico at age 40 to care for her dying mother some years ago. She ended up writing an essay about her frustrations with the way hospice care often works in the U.S.

Johnston, like many family caregivers, was surprised that her mother's hospice provider left most of the physical work to her. She says that during the final weeks of her mother's life, she felt more like a tired nurse than a devoted daughter.

According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, seven in 10 Americans say they would prefer to die at home. And that's the direction the health care system is moving, too, hoping to avoid unnecessary and expensive treatment at the end of life.

The home hospice movement has been great for patients, says Vanderbilt palliative care physician Parul Goyal, and many patients are thrilled with the care they get.

"I do think that when they are at home, they are in a peaceful environment," Goyal says. "It is comfortable for them. But," she notes, "it may not be comfortable for family members watching them taking their last breath."

Still, when it comes to where we die, the U.S. has reached a tipping point. Home is now the most common place of death, according to new research, and a majority of Medicare patients are turning to hospice services to help make that possible. Fewer Americans these days are dying in a hospital under the close supervision of doctors and nurses.

Hospice allows a patient deemed to have fewer than six months to live to change the focus of their medical care — from the goal of curing disease to a new goal of using treatments and medicines to maintain comfort and quality of life. It is a form of palliative care, which also focuses on pain management, but can be provided while a patient continues to seek a cure or receive treatments to prolong life.

Usually, hospice care is offered in the home, or sometimes in a nursing home.

Since the mid-1990s, Medicare has allowed the hospice benefit to cover more types of diagnoses, and therefore more people. As acceptance grows among physicians and patients, the numbers continue to balloon — from 1.27 million patients in 2012 to 1.49 million in 2017.

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association, hospice is now a $19 billion industry, almost entirely funded by taxpayers. But as the business has grown, so has the burden on families, who are often the ones providing most of the care.

For example, one intimate task in particular changed Joy Johnston's view of what hospice really means — trying to get her mom's bowels moving. Constipation plagues many dying patients.

"It's ironically called the 'comfort care kit' that you get with home hospice. They include suppositories, and so I had to do that," she says. "That was the lowest point. And I'm sure it was the lowest point for my mother as well. And it didn't work."

Hospice agencies primarily serve in an advisory role and from a distance, even in the final, intense days when family caregivers, or home nurses they've hired, must continually adjust morphine doses or deal with typical end-of-life symptoms, such as bleeding or breathing trouble. Those decisive moments can be scary for the family, says Dr. Joan Teno, a physician and leading hospice researcher at Oregon Health and Science University.

"Imagine if you're the caregiver, and that you're in the house," Teno says. "It's in the middle of the night, 2 o'clock in the morning, and all of a sudden, your family member has a grand mal seizure."

That's exactly what happened with Teno's mother.

"While it was difficult for me to witness, I knew what to do," she says.

In contrast, Teno says, in her father's final hours, he was admitted to a hospice residence. Such residences often resemble a nursing home, with private rooms where family and friends can come and go and with round-the-clock medical attention just down the hall.

Teno called the residence experience of hospice a "godsend." But an inpatient facility is rarely an option, she says. Patients have to be in bad shape for Medicare to pay the higher inpatient rate that hospice residences charge. And by the time such patients reach their final days, it's often too much trouble for them and the family to move.

Hospice care is a lucrative business. It is now the most profitable type of health care service that Medicare pays for. According to Medicare data, for-profit hospice agencies now outnumber the nonprofits that pioneered the service in the 1970s. But agencies that need to generate profits for investors aren't building dedicated hospice units or residences, in general, mostly because such facilities aren't profitable enough.

Joe Shega, chief medical officer at for-profit Vitas, the largest hospice company in the U.S., insists it's the patients' wishes, not a corporate desire to make more money, that drives his firm's business model. "Our focus is on what patients want, and 85 to 90 percent want to be at home," Shega says. "So, our focus is building programs that help them be there."

For many families, making hospice work at home means hiring extra help.

'I guess I've just accepted what's available'

At the kitchen table of her home outside Nashville, hospice patient Jean McCasland is refusing, on the day I visit, to eat a spoonful of peach yogurt. Each morning, nurse's aide Karrie Velez pulverizes McCasland's medications in a pill crusher and mixes them into her breakfast yogurt.

"If you don't, she will just spit them out," Velez says.

Like a growing share of hospice patients, McCasland has dementia. She needs a service that hospice rarely provides — a one-on-one health attendant for several hours, so the regular family caregiver can get some kind of break each day.

John McCasland (right) of Goodlettsville, Tenn., hired a private caregiver to help with his wife, Jean (left), who suffered from dementia for eight years. Even when hospice took over, he still found he needed the extra help from Karrie Velez (center). Jean died in October after 13 months on home hospice.  Blake Farmer/WPLN 
When Velez is not around, John McCasland — Jean's husband of nearly 50 years — is the person in charge at home.

"I have said from the beginning that was my intention, that she would be at home through the duration, as long as I was able," John says.

But what hospice provided wasn't enough help. So he has had to drain their retirement accounts to hire Velez, a private caregiver, out-of-pocket.

Hospice agencies usually bring in a hospital bed, an oxygen machine or a wheelchair — whatever equipment is needed. Prescriptions show up at the house for pain and anxiety. But hands-on help is scarce.

Medicare says hospice benefits can include home health aides and homemaker services. But in practice, that in-person help is often limited to a couple of baths a week. Medicare data reveals that, on average, a nurse or aide is only in the patient's home 30 minutes, or so, per day.

Jean McCasland's husband hasn't complained. "I guess I've just accepted what's available and not really thought beyond what could be," John says. "Because this is what they say they do."

Families rarely consider whether they're getting their money's worth because they're not paying for hospice services directly: Medicare gets the bills. John keeps his monthly statements from Medicare organized in a three-ring binder, but he had never noticed that his agency charges nearly $200 a day, whether there is a health provider in the home on that day or not.

That daily reimbursement also covers equipment rentals and a 24-hour hotline that lets patients or family members consult a nurse as needed; John says it gives him peace of mind that help is a phone call away. "There's a sense of comfort in knowing that they are keeping an eye on her," he says.

The rate that hospice charges Medicare drops a bit after the patient's first two months on the benefit. After reviewing his paperwork, John realizes Medicare paid the hospice agency $60,000 in the first 12 months Jean was on hospice. Was the care his wife got worth that?

"When you consider the amount of money that's involved, perhaps they would provide somebody around the clock," he says.

Sue Riggle is the administrator for the McCaslands' hospice agency and says she understands how much help patients with dementia need.

"I think everybody wishes we could provide the sitter-service part of it," says Riggle. "But it's not something that is covered by hospices."

Her company is a small for-profit business called Adoration; she says the agency can't provide more services than the Medicare benefit pays for.

I checked in again with John and Velez (Jean's long-time private caregiver) this winter. The two were by Jean's side — and had been there for several days straight — when she died in October. The hospice nurse showed up only afterward, to officially document the death.

This experience of family caregivers is typical, but often unexpected.

'It's a burden I lovingly did'

"It does take a toll" on families, says Katherine Ornstein, an associate professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, who studies what typically happens in the last years of patients' lives. The increasing burden on loved ones — especially spouses — is reaching a breaking point for many people, her research shows. This particular type of stress has even been given a name: caregiver syndrome.

"Our long-term-care system in this country is really using families — unpaid family members," she says. "That's our situation."

A few high-profile advocates have even started questioning whether hospice is right for everybody. For some who have gone through home hospice with a loved one, the difficult experience has led them to choose otherwise for themselves.

Social worker Coneigh Sea has a portrait of her husband that sits in the entryway of her home in Murfreesboro, Tenn. He died of prostate cancer in their bedroom in 1993.

Coneigh Sea is a social worker from Murfreesboro, Tenn., who cared for her husband as he died on home hospice. Now, she wants to make sure her children don't do the same for her.
Blake Farmer/WPLN 
Enough time has passed since then that the mental fog she experienced while managing his medication and bodily fluids — mostly by herself — has cleared, she says. But it was a burden.

"For me to say that — there's that guilt," she says, then adds, "but I know better. It was a burden that I lovingly did."

She doesn't regret the experience but says it is not one she wishes for her own grown children. She recently sat them down, she says, to make sure they handle her death differently.

"I told my family, if there is such a thing, I will come back and I will haunt you," she says with a laugh. "Don't you do that."

Sea's family may have limited options. Sidestepping home hospice typically means paying for a pricey nursing home or passing away with the cost and potential chaos of a hospital — which is precisely what hospice care was set up to avoid.

As researchers in the field look to the future, they are calling for more palliative care, not less — even as they also advocate for more support of the spouses, family members and friends who are tasked with caring for the patient.

"We really have to expand — in general — our approach to supporting caregivers," Ornstein says, noting that some countries outside the U.S. pay for a wider range and longer duration of home health services.

"I think what we really need to do is be broadening the support that individuals and families can have as they're caring for individuals throughout the course of serious illness," Ornstein says. "And I think that probably speaks to the expansion of palliative care in general."

Blake Farmer's reporting on end-of-life care is part of a reporting fellowship on health care performance, sponsored by the Association of Health Care Journalists and supported by the Commonwealth Fund.

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Patients Want To Die At Home, But Home Hospice Care Can Be Tough On Families

19-year-old accused of financially exploiting 4 elderly victims

FOLEY, Ala. (WALA) — Authorities arrested 19-year-old Jaylon Ametrius George of Magnolia Springs and charged her with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts of financial exploitation of the elderly as well as two felony counts of theft of property and one felony count of possession of forged instrument.

George is accused of financially exploiting at least four elderly victims who are residents of a local nursing home where she was employed for a short time.

Officials say this investigation is being conducted in a cooperative effort by a newly formed team formed by the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office targeting financial exploitation and abuse of the elderly.

George was out on bond for previous financial crimes.

According to police, additional victims may have been discovered during the search and additional charges are likely. George’s previous bond has been revoked.

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19-year-old accused of financially exploiting 4 elderly victims

Saturday, January 25, 2020

LTCCC Report: Animal Care Standards vs. Nursing Home Resident Experiences

The quality and safety of nursing homes are longstanding public concerns. Numerous studies over the years have identified widespread and significant deficiencies in care, including serious abuse and neglect, and degrading, inhumane conditions.

In light of these concerns, and the widespread persistence of substandard care and abuse, we undertook this analysis to compare the experiences of nursing home residents with the basic standards of care for animals. Can animals in a zoo or kennel expect better treatment and conditions than that which many human nursing home residents actually receive?

The following report provides the results of our findings in relation to 11 key categories of interest and concern. Click on a button on the right hand side to download an Issue Brief on any of the categories covered in the report.

Please Note: The point of this work is not to trivialize the experiences of either nursing home residents or animals but, rather, to illustrate how systemic failures to hold nursing homes accountable for abuse and neglect too often subject residents to conditions that not only fall below the federal nursing home standards of care, but also below accepted standards for the humane treatment of animals.

(Click to read report)

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LTCCC Report: Animal Care Standards vs. Nursing Home Resident Experiences

Nursing home task force focuses on staffing

By Emily Mills

Steve Piskor placed a camera in his mother’s room at a Cleveland nursing home in 2011.

From the camera’s recordings, Piskor discovered eight aides abusing his then-78-year-old mother, Esther, who had Alzheimer’s disease and died in 2018.

Eventually, two of the aides went to prison, three were fired and three were disciplined, Piskor said.

The family’s experience with elder abuse inspired Senate Bill 255 and House Bill 461, or “Esther’s Law,” companion measures introduced in the Ohio legislature in December. It would allow residents of facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities to set up a video recording device in their room.

“I’m not trying to say all aides are bad and all nursing homes are bad. ... What we’re trying to do is just stop the abuse,” said Piskor, 65, of Cleveland.

Piskor shared his experience during the second meeting of the Summit County Nursing Homes and Facilities Task Force on Tuesday morning in the Greater Akron Chamber office.

The group is focusing on three areas: reviewing current conditions, assessing possible solutions and best practices, and making recommendations. The group will then present its findings and recommendations to Summit County Council and the county executive in a written report this year.

At its first meeting in November, four committees were created: legislation, operations, visitation of facilities and staffing, with each committee giving an update Tuesday.

One of the primary focuses of the task force is staffing issues. Wayside Farm Nursing & Rehabilitation Center administrator and task force member Matthew Pool called staff retention and recruitment a “top priority.”

“Without staff, we’re not going to have the quality of care that we’re looking for,” he said.

Preliminary ideas from the task force include a workforce development initiative with Stark State College and a Peace Corps-style training program within the county for young people interested in health care or caregiving. The program would allow them to get experience in nursing homes and other facilities and potentially be hired permanently in the future.

“We’ve been hearing this ever since we mentioned we were looking into this, not only from the providers of the service but from families who have loved ones in the facilities,” Summit County Council President Jeff Wilhite said of staffing issues.

Wilhite proposed creating the group and is chairing the task force.

He also noted the impediments that can keep people from getting to work, like transportation or day care for their children, and said the task force could help look for solutions to those issues.

Summit County Executive’s Office senior administrator and task force member Whitney Spencer proposed working with Akron Public Schools, which offers health care-related pathways through its College and Career Academies, on the staffing issues affecting nursing homes and other facilities.

Kim Hone McMahan, a retired Beacon Journal reporter and columnist whose 103-year-old mother was injured in a nursing home in May, said staff at nursing homes and other facilities are often underpaid, under-trained and difficult to retain, saying she’s found some facilities with a turnover rate of 100%.

“Many if not most incidents in nursing homes are [due to] a lack of staffing, proper staffing,” said McMahan, saying the lack of proper staffing “has reached a crisis.”

The Summit County Council approved creating the task force in August. The idea for the group came about after a June report listed a Copley facility that closed last summer, Fairlawn Rehab and Nursing Center, among the worst in the nation.

Future task force meetings are scheduled for Feb. 18, March 24, April 21 and May 19, all at 10 a.m. in the Greater Akron Chamber conference room in Akron’s AES Building, 388 S. Main St., Suite 205. The meetings are open to the public.

For questions, call the Summit County Council office at 330-643-2725.

Full Article & Source:
Nursing home task force focuses on staffing

See Also:
Son pushes for cameras after mother's nursing home abuse

New bill called Esther's Law would allow surveillance cameras in nursing home resident rooms

British socialite stole nearly $300K from grandmother with dementia

Emily Rosina Evans-Schreiber
A British socialite stole nearly $300,000 from her dementia-suffering grandmother to fund her lavish lifestyle, including designer clothes and stays in Beverly Hills hotels, according to local reports.

Emily Rosina Evans-Schreiber, 38, had only about $50 in her bank account when she was given control of her 94-year-old grandmother Rosina Evans’ finances in April 2018, a Northampton crown court heard Friday, according to the BBC.

The former model’s mother had become worried about her daughter’s “high life” in London, and bought her a house in Naseby, tasking her with taking care of her grandma, prosecutors said.

Over the next eight months, Evans-Schreiber — who once worked as a fashion consultant for model Cara Delevingne — blew the cash on jet-setting, high-end hotels and cosmetic treatments, prosecutors said.

Eventually, her mom, Clare Evans-Schreiber, became suspicious about how her jobless daughter was managing to afford her luxe lifestyle — and called the bank and the police.

Bank statements for Rosina’s account showed the close to $300,000 in transfers to Evans-Schreiber, labeled as “bills,” “care” and “savings.”

When police searched her house in May 2019 they found “luxury products,” including brand-name clothing, shoes, handbags and sunglasses.

She also gave about $27,000 to her ex, Sam Oguche, the father of her now-eight-year-old daughter, according to the Daily Mail.

By the time the cops were called, only about $7,000 was left in the grandmother’s account. Rosina, who recently died, never knew of her granddaughter’s scheme, the court heard.

Evans-Schreiber pleaded guilty to one count of theft.

In pleading for leniency, the defense argued Evans-Schreiber had left behind enough cash to cover her grandma’s medical bills — and sent her flowers and chocolates.

“She was out of control and wasn’t in her normal mental state,” Carolina Guiloff said about her client.

“It would be wrong for your honor to be left with the impression that this was a cold and callous woman who had no regard for her grandmother at all.”

Judge Rebecca Crane handed down a two-year sentence, suspended for 20 months. Evans-Schreiber must also do 150 hours of community service and attend an alcohol rehab program for six months.

She said her sentencing decision was “very difficult” as Evans-Schreiber was the sole carer for her daughter. She also said Evans-Schreiber had previously battled depression and alcohol addiction.

“Do not come to this court asking for a second chance,” Judge Crane said. “That is what you have been given with this sentence.”

Full Article & Source:
British socialite stole nearly $300K from grandmother with dementia

Friday, January 24, 2020

Florida Advocate Doug Franks is tonight's guest on "In the Mix With Coz and Marti" on Marti Oakley's TS Radio Network at 7:00 CST:

"Doug Franks joins us this evening to discuss the new laws along with the formation of the Office of Public & Private Guardians (OPPG) in Florida. The OPPG was started in 2016, but by 2019 almost everyone had exited the office. Noting that the OPPG will have zero effect on stopping others from being targeted and abused in the probate system, Doug has been an outspoken advocate for change. Doug became involved when his own mother was taken hostage by these predators who operate freely and openly in Florida. FREE ERNESTINE became the hallmark of Doug's public campaign to free his mother from this probate imposed, captivity.

SB994 and HB709

Both bills were supposed to be a major step in reforming what is nothing more than a government approved system of human trafficking for profit. Across the country, families and organizations have been fighting for years to halt the kidnapping, isolation, psychological abuse and theft of assets that occurs via probate tribunals. These bills might have provided a good starting point, but after being passed the state BAR Associations came in through the back door and had any language that might have held them accountable or subjected them to any repercussions, removed. The bills are now just more fluff and buff to make you think they are actually going to protect seniors from this type of exploitation." ...
LISTEN to the show LIVE or listen to the archive later

Wife accused of elderly exploitation for trying to cash $1M check from husband's account

Tampa attorney Todd Foster says his client, 26-year-old Lin Halfon is no gold-digger and even if she was, it’s not a crime.

"They’ve essentially arrested her and accused her of stealing from her husband? How do you steal from your husband?" questions Foster.

Lin Halfon and Richard Rappaport
Halfon and 77-year-old Tampa businessman Richard Rappaport tied the knot last summer. Now the young newlywed is in jail and her husband is asking for a divorce.

She’s accused of trying to cash a $1 million check, at Amscot, from her husband's bank account. Employees there refused to cash it and later grew suspicious after she returned a few times to cash checks for smaller amounts.

Court records show Halfon was so eager to get her hands on the money, she offered to pay Amscot double interest.

Halfon is charged with money laundering, exploitation of the elderly, and organized fraud charges.

However, Foster says his client had a legal right to the cash.

"You will see, as it shakes out in the courts, it’s not what it’s reported to be," Foster said. "This is a consensual transaction between a husband and wife."

Halfon is being held in jail on a bond of $1 million. Foster hopes to get that reduced.

"This was not a spur-of-the-moment, let’s get married, give me all your money type of thing. This was a marriage and a courtship and a relationship over time," explained Foster.

Halfon is in a Tampa courtroom Tuesday for a bond reduction hearing.

Full Article & Source:
Wife accused of elderly exploitation for trying to cash $1M check from husband's account

Grant pleads not guilty at arraignment

Authorities say former local businessman stole more than $1.3 million from clients

Dean Grant
 by Billy Hobbs

A 54-year-old former Milledgeville businessman, accused of stealing more than $1.3 million from clients while working as a financial advisor, pleaded not guilty to 23 felony criminal charges Monday in Baldwin County Superior Court.

Dean Harrison Grant, who formerly lived and worked in Milledgeville and now resides in Roswell, Ga., entered his plea during an arraignment hearing. Grant was represented at the hearing by his attorney, Carl Cansino, of Milledgeville.

Grant, who was arrested for the alleged crimes and who served several days in the Baldwin County Law Enforcement Center, was indicted last November by a grand jury in Baldwin County.

Grand jurors indicted Grant on two counts of trafficking an elder person by financial exploitation, 10 counts of insurance fraud, nine counts of theft by taking, and one count of forgery in the first-degree, according to records filed in the Baldwin County Superior Court Clerk’s Office.

Grant was released from jail after posting a $750,000 bond on March 15 last year.

“This devious individual stole more than $1.3 million of hard-earned money from Georgians,” said Georgia Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King. “These victims put their trust in him, and in some cases, their livelihood. He abused that trust and left the victims out to dry. This should serve as an example to all of the people who feel they are above the law; these heinous acts will not be tolerated in this state.”

King’s comments were disseminated to media outlets in a press release after grand jurors returned the 23-count indictment against Grant.

Grant was the founder and managing partner of GIF Strategic Advisors, located at 136 W. McIntosh St., Suite A in Milledgeville.

He was taken into custody on charges last February.

At that time, the state’s insurance and safety fire commissioner said Grant was accused of receiving a total of $589,384.33 from three of his victims. The money was reportedly given to Grant for him to secure insurance-related investments, a total of $447,589.26 of which was taken from two elderly customers.

“He did not obtain any insurance investments with the money he received from his customers and instead used it for personal benefit,” King said in the press release.

Later, Grant was charged with seven other additional counts of insurance fraud and seven counts of theft by taking (fiduciary), according to the state official.

“He was accused of taking an additional $785,000 from three customers for him to secure insurance-related investments, bringing the total monetary value received from the victims to $1,374,384.33,” King said.

The case was jointly investigated by Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Detective Capt. Brad King and Special Agent Jason S. Jones with the Georgia Insurance Commissioner’s Office.

The sheriff’s office learned of the questionable activities involving the suspect in November 2017.

Full Article & Source:
Grant pleads not guilty at arraignment

California Public Health Agency Can’t Duck Federal Lawsuit

by Maria Dinzeo

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that California’s byzantine public health bureaucracy must face a lawsuit by elderly Medi-Cal patients claiming it fails to enforce laws prohibiting nursing homes from dumping them into hospitals to free up space for more profitable residents.

Bruce Anderson languished for over a year in Sutter General Hospital after he was sent there by Norwood Pines Care Center. Anderson’s traumatic brain injury and resulting behavioral issues put him at greater risk for falls. Anthony Chicotel, an attorney with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said Norwood Pines saw an opportunity to unload him.

“Bruce literally just sat in bed. He never went outside. He was drugged and it was a really sad situation,” Chicotel said in a phone interview Wednesday evening.

Though Anderson appealed his involuntary hospital transfer under the Nursing Home Reform Act and won, the state refuses to enforce its own readmission orders, creating a system that incentivizes nursing homes to break the law and ignore hearing decisions without consequences.

Anderson was finally sent to a nursing home, but only after Chicotel asked a friend who works in nursing home administration to accept him.

Anderson was one of three men who sued the California Health Department in 2015 alongside California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam ruled that Anderson and his co-plaintiffs had alleged a concrete injury and could proceed with their lawsuit, which has been stuck in legal limbo while the Ninth Circuit sorted out whether they had the right to sue.

Last year, the appellate court sent the case back to Gilliam, who dismissed it in 2016, overturning his decision that the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act does not give individuals the right to sue states for failing to enforce the law.

Attorney Matthew Borden of Braun Hagey & Borden, who represents the three patients and CANHR, said Wednesday that Gilliam’s order recognized the “Kafkaesque nightmare” his clients have been through.

“I have clients who are actually worse off having gone and availed themselves of the process they have the right under federal law to use to get readmitted after they’ve been unjustly kicked out,” Borden said. “That piece of paper is worth nothing because of the way the state has orchestrated itself. I think the ruling today is good because it vindicates our legal theory that the processes that the state has are just simply not effective. They’re tantamount to nothing.”

Essentially, the California California Department of Health Care Services says that once it issues an order for nursing home readmission, it no longer has jurisdiction and “has no authority to enforce its own orders.”

For Borden and his clients, the red tape is maddening.

“This is an easy problem to solve. All you have to do is commit to enforcing the orders. It’s just that they don’t want to enforce these orders,” Borden said, listing a half-dozen ways the state could intervene; by cutting of Midi-Cal funding or imposing fines that eliminate the financial incentive for nursing facilities to dump their neediest patients.

Chicotel said he believes that most of the time, nursing homes initiate hospital transfers for legitimate medical reasons, though he has seen some cases of transfers made for phony reasons.

“But once they’re in the hospital, they see their opportunity to permanently get rid of them,” he said.

Chicotel said he would hope that even if Gilliam dismissed the case again, that health and human services secretary Mark Gahly would want to resolve the issue.

“I would think the people who run these state agencies, Dr. Gahly in particular, would see this is a terrible outcome for nursing home residents and want to do something regardless,” Chicotel said.

While he is happy about Gilliam’s ruling, he knows the case faces a tough slog through the court system.

“We went to state multiple times and tried to work with them to find solutions and were basically told to get lost,” Chicotel said. “We’ve wasted four plus years on this litigation when the solutions are pretty simple. I’m hoping the state doesn’t want to wait that long. I’m hopeful the new leadership will be more amenable.”

Borden said plaintiff John Wilson, who had ALS, died while the case was on appeal. Plaintiff Robert Austin has accepted a temporary transfer to a nursing home, but it is located 400 miles away from his sister.

“He would very much like to return back to the Sacramento area to the facility near his sister,” Borden said. “There are a whole litany of people who could step in as additional plaintiffs because it’s a recurring story. It’s happening over and over again. Which is why we’re trying to get the state to do something or take the case to trial and get a judgment against them where there’s an injunction.”

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform is exploring the option of legislation in 2020 that could force the state into compliance sooner.

A California’s Health and Human Services Agency spokesperson said in an email the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Full Article & Source:
California Public Health Agency Can’t Duck Federal Lawsuit

Thursday, January 23, 2020

‘She could do it again’: Serial nursing home killer released, moves to SC

by: Ken Kolker

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WOOD) — More than 30 years after she helped kill at least five elderly women in a West Michigan nursing home, serial killer Catherine Wood walked out of prison on Thursday.

Wood, now 57, walked out of the federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida, released over the objections of her victims’ relatives. They fear she’ll kill again.

Conditions of Wood’s parole show she won’t be returning to West Michigan to live, at least for now. Instead, WOOD learned, the Alpine Manor Nursing Home killer will live with her sister in Fort Mill, South Carolina, a city of 17,000 people just outside Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I’m glad she’s not coming back here, but on the other side of the coin, I sympathize with the people that are going to be living around her, wherever she goes,” said John Engman, son-in-law of victim Mae Mason.

He helped lead the fight against Wood’s release.

“If I was a neighbor, I would want to definitely know that we have a serial killer living next door,” Engman said.

In 1987, Wood and Gwendolyn Graham killed at least five patients — and possibly as many as a dozen — at the Alpine Manor Nursing Home, where the women were nurse’s aides. They did it for fun and to bind their love.

The Michigan Parole Board had denied Wood’s release eight times before, finding she was a potential danger and wasn’t remorseful, but that changed in September 2018. Victims’ family members tried to stop it, but a Kent County judge ruled in October 2019 that she should be released.

Retired Walker Police Department Sgt. Roger Kaliniak, who helped investigate the murders at Alpine Manor in 1987, said he fears Wood could kill again.

“She’s a serial killer and she could do it again, and most of them do,” Kaliniak said.

The federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida, that held
Alpine Manor serial killer Catherine Wood.
(Jan. 16, 2020)
Wood spent most of her adult life in the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, kept separate from Graham, her accomplice, who is serving life without parole in Michigan.

Wood testified against Graham, saying Graham suffocated the victims with washcloths as she acted as a lookout.

But investigators said they believe Wood was more involved and there could have been as many as a dozen victims.

“I believe that Cathy Wood was the mastermind, she was the one that was pulling strings on Gwendolyn Graham,” Kaliniak, the retired detective said. “Gwendolyn Graham handled the dirty work and Cathy Wood was the brains behind it. “

The pair at first tried to spell ‘MURDER’ with their victims’ initials.

Graham was ultimately convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of Mae Mason, 79, Edith Cook, 98; Marguerite Chambers, 60; Myrtle Luce, 95; and Belle Burkhard, 74. The victims all suffered from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, Wood pleaded to second-degree murder in Chambers’ death and was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison.

Kaliniak’s partner in the investigation, retired Detective Sgt. Tom Freeman, said he believes Wood has earned her freedom in exchange for her testimony against Graham.

“If it wasn’t for that deal, Gwen Graham would probably have been loose today,” Freeman said.

He said he doesn’t believe Wood is a threat.

Kaliniak disagrees.

“It’s a horrific crime that these two people were involved in, and I think that both of them should be in prison forever,” Kaliniak said.

“My fear is that she will find some old person, old people, incorporate herself into their family, take their property, take their lives and move on and do it again,” said Engman, the son-in-law of a victim.

The South Carolina parole board said Wood’s parole will keep her from caring for the elderly, for children and for vulnerable adults. But those conditions end when her parole ends in June 2021.

Full Article & Source:
‘She could do it again’: Serial nursing home killer released, moves to SC