Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Dear Therapist Writes to Herself in Her Grief

My father died, there’s a pandemic, and I’m overcome by my feeling of loss.

Bianca Bagnarelli
Dear Therapist,

I know that everyone is going through loss during the coronavirus pandemic, but in the midst of all this, my beloved father died two weeks ago, and I’m reeling.

He was 85 years old and in great pain from complications due to congestive heart failure. After years of invasive procedures and frequent hospitalizations, he decided to go into home hospice to live out the rest of his life surrounded by family. We didn’t know whether it would be weeks or months, but we expected his death, and had prepared for it in the time leading up to it. We had the conversations we wanted to have, and the day he died, I was there to kiss his cheeks and massage his forehead, to hold his hand and say goodbye. I was at his bedside when he took his last breath.

And yet, nothing prepared me for this loss. Can you help me understand my grief?

Los Angeles, Calif.

Dear Readers,

This week, I decided to submit my own “Dear Therapist” letter following my father’s death. As a therapist, I’m no stranger to grief, and I’ve written about its varied manifestations in this column many times.

Even so, I wanted to write about the grief I’m now experiencing personally, because I know this is something that affects everyone. You can’t get through life without experiencing loss. The question is, how do we live with loss?

In the months before my father died, I asked him a version of that question: How will I live without you? If this sounds strange—asking a person you love to give you tips on how to grieve his death—let me offer some context.

My dad was a phenomenal father, grandfather, husband, and loyal friend to many. He had a dry sense of humor, a hearty laugh, boundless compassion, an uncanny ability to fix anything around the house, and a deep knowledge of the world (he was my Siri before there was a Siri). Mostly, though, he was known for his emotional generosity. He cared deeply about others; when we returned to my mom’s house after his burial, we were greeted by a gigantic box of paper towels on her doorstep, ordered by my father the day before he died so that she wouldn’t have to worry about going out during the pandemic.

His greatest act of emotional generosity, though, was talking me through my grief. He said many comforting things in recent months—how I’ll carry him inside me, how my memories of him will live forever, how he believes in my resilience. A few years earlier, he had taken me aside after one of my son’s basketball games and said that he’d just been to a friend’s funeral, told the friend’s adult daughter how proud her father had been of her, and was heartbroken when she said her father had never said that to her.

“So,” my father said outside the gym, “I want to make sure that I’ve told you how proud of you I am. I want to make sure you know.” It was the first time we’d had a conversation like that, and the subtext was clear: I’m going to die sooner rather than later. We stood there, the two of us, hugging and crying as people passing by tried not to stare, because we both knew that this was the beginning of my father’s goodbye.

But of all the ways my father tried to prepare me for his loss, what has stayed with me most was when he talked about what he learned from grieving his own parents’ deaths: that grief was unavoidable, and that I would grieve this loss forever.

“I can’t make this less painful for you,” he said one night when I started crying over the idea—still so theoretical to me—of his death. “But when you feel the pain, remember that it comes from a place of having loved and been loved deeply.” Then, almost as an afterthought, he added, “Beyond that—you’re the therapist. Think about how you’ve helped other people with their grief.”

So I have. Five days before he died, I developed a cough that would wake me from sleep. I didn’t have the other symptoms of COVID-19—fever, fatigue—but still, I thought: I’d better not go near Dad. I spoke with him every day, as usual, except for Saturday, when time got away from me. I called the next day—the day when suddenly he could barely talk and all we could say was “I love you” to each other before he lost consciousness. He never said another word; our family sat vigil until he died the next afternoon.

Afterward, I was racked with guilt. While I’d told myself that I hadn’t seen him in his last days because of my cough, and that I hadn’t called Saturday because of the upheaval of getting supplies for the lockdown, maybe I wasn’t there and didn’t call because I was in denial—I couldn’t tolerate the idea of him dying, so I found a way to avoid confronting it.

Soon this became all I thought about—how I wished I’d gone over with my cough and a mask; how I wished I’d called on Saturday when he was still cogent—until I remembered something I wrote in this column to a woman who felt guilty about the way she had treated her dying husband in his last week. “One way to deal with intense grief is to focus the pain elsewhere,” I had written then. “It might be easier to distract yourself from the pain of missing your husband by turning the pain inward and beating yourself up over what you did or didn’t do for him.”

Like my father, her husband had suffered for a long time, and like her, I felt I had failed him in his final days.

I wrote to her:
Grief doesn’t begin the day a person dies. We experience the loss while the person is alive, and because our energy is focused on doctor appointments and tests and treatments—and because the person is still here—we might not be aware that we’ve already begun grieving the loss of someone we love … So what happens to their feelings of helplessness, sadness, fear, or rage? It’s not uncommon for people with a terminally ill partner to push their partner away in order to protect themselves from the pain of the loss they’re already experiencing and the bigger one they’re about to endure. They might pick fights with their partner. They might avoid their partner, and busy themselves with other interests or people. They might not be as helpful as they had imagined they would be, not only because of the exhaustion that sets in during these situations, but also because of the resentment: How dare you show me so much love, even in your suffering, and then leave me.
Another “Dear Therapist” letter came to mind this week, this one from a man grieving the loss of his wife of 47 years. He wanted to know how long this would go on. I replied:
Many people don’t know that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s well-known stages of grieving—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—were conceived in the context of terminally ill patients coming to terms with their own deaths. It’s one thing to “accept” the end of your own life. But for those who keep on living, the idea that they should reach “acceptance” might make them feel worse (“I should be past this by now”; “I don’t know why I still cry at random times, all these years later”). The grief psychologist William Worden looks at grieving in this light, replacing “stages” with “tasks” of mourning. In the fourth of his tasks, the goal is to integrate the loss into our lives and create an ongoing connection with the person who died—while also finding a way to continue living.
Just like my father suggested, these columns helped. And so did my own therapist, the person I called Wendell in my recent book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. He sat with me (from a coronavirus-safe distance, of course) as I tried to minimize my grief—look at all of these relatively young people dying from the coronavirus when my father got to live to 85; look at the all the people who weren’t lucky enough to have a father like mine—and he reminded me that I always tell others that there’s no hierarchy of pain, that pain is pain and not a contest.

And so I stopped apologizing for my pain and shared it with Wendell. I told him how, after my father died and we were waiting for his body to be taken to the mortuary, I kissed my father’s cheek, knowing that it would be the last time I would ever kiss him, and I noticed how soft and warm his cheek still was, and I tried to remember what he felt like, because I knew I would never feel my father’s skin again. I told Wendell how I stared at my father’s face and tried to memorize every detail, knowing it would be the last time I’d ever see the face I’d looked at my entire life. I told him how gutted I was by the physical markers that jolted me out of denial and made this goodbye so horribly real—seeing my father’s lifeless body being wrapped in a sheet and placed in a van (Wait, where are you taking my dad? I silently screamed), carrying the casket to the hearse, shoveling dirt into his grave, watching the shiva candle melt for seven days until the flame was jarringly gone. Mostly, though, I cried, deep and guttural, the way my patients do when they’re in the throes of grief.

Since leaving Wendell’s office, I have cried and also laughed. I’ve felt pain and joy; I’ve felt numb and alive. I’ve lost track of the days, and found purpose in helping people through our global pandemic. I’ve hugged my son, also reeling from the loss of his grandfather, tighter than usual, and let him share his pain with me. I’ve spent some days FaceTiming with friends and family, and other days choosing not to engage.

But the thing that has helped me the most is what my father did for me and also what Wendell did for me. They couldn’t take away my pain, but they sat with me in my loss in a way that said: I see you, I hear you, I’m with you. This is exactly what we need in grief, and what we can do for one another—now more than ever.

Dear Therapist is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. By submitting a letter, you are agreeing to let The Atlantic use it—in part or in full—and we may edit it for length and/or clarity.

Full Article & Source:
Dear Therapist Writes to Herself in Her Grief

Port St. Lucie man accused of posing as licensed plumber, stealing $5,000 from Martin County woman

MARTIN COUNTY — A man previously convicted of exploiting others and stealing in Florida, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania has been accused of stealing $5,000 from a woman in Martin County.

On Feb. 11, Martin County Sheriff's Office detectives responded to a call from the woman's daughter about a possible fraudulent incident, according to a complaint affidavit.

The daughter told detectives Robert Hibbert, 57, of the 300 block of Northwest Concord Drive in Port St. Lucie, had exploited and stole from her mother while he was working on her plumbing in Martin County.

The woman's daughter said on Jan. 28 she looked for a plumber online and contacted Hibbert about fixing her washing machine.

Hibbert told the daughter he was a licensed plumber, but records detectives obtained showed he doesn't have the license. 

After the work was done, the woman paid Hibbert $145 for the job. The woman's mother then asked Hibbert to look at a clogged drain in her home, detectives said.

The mother told detectives Hibbert asked her for $240 for the job he had previously completed and had been paid for by her daughter. She said Hibbert told her the plumbing work she needed was extensive and "she would have toilet paper leaking into the front yard and home" if she didn't get it fixed soon.

Detectives said Hibbert charged the mother $9,100 for the second plumbing job. 

Detectives said the daughter asked a plumbing company to look at the invoice Hibbert gave her mother for the $9,100 job. The company told the daughter the job should have only cost about $1,000.

The women said she looked through her emergency cash fund and found $5,000 missing. She told detectives the only person that had access to that room was Hibbert while he was doing the plumbing work. 

The mother called Hibbert and demanded $8,100 back. Hibbert apologized and sent back $5,000 and asked the woman not to call 911.

Hibbert was arrested on charges of exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult, grand theft, contracting without a license, and depositing with intent to defraud.

He was taken to the St. Lucie County Jail. Bond was set at $85,000.

Martin County sheriff's Detective Jennifer Jaques, who investigated the case, said Friday Hibbert was convicted in 1995 and 2000 in New Jersey on charges of theft by deception; and in 2011 and 2013 in Pennsylvania and Delaware, respectively, on charges of home improvement fraud.  

In 2017, Hibbert had an address in Vero Beach when a Palm Bay couple paid him more than $9,000 for home repairs that were not completed, according to an article in Florida Today. He identified himself as a licensed plumber. He was jailed in Indian River County on 10 charges related to work done on the Palm Bay home.

Jaques said there's a strong likelihood Hibbert took advantage of other people in Martin County. 

Full Article & Source:
Port St. Lucie man accused of posing as licensed plumber, stealing $5,000 from Martin County woman

$8,000 Rolex watch listed among St. Lucie County exploitation case purchases

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — A man accused of stealing more than $11,700 from a man with Alzheimer’s disease was jailed on a host of charges, according to records obtained Thursday.

Joseph Fernandez, 56, of the 200 block of Brazilian Circle in Port St. Lucie, was arrested Wednesday on charges including exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult, grand theft, forgery, fraudulent use of credit card and organized fraud after a Port St. Lucie police investigation.

Police began investigating in January, after family members learned from the state Department of Children and Families that their relative was “possibly being exploited” by Fernandez, records show.

Family members noted at least eight automated teller machine withdrawals in June and July 2019, along with an $8,000 purchase at a jewelry business in Palm Beach County.

A detective spoke with the man, who said Fernandez helped him by driving him around for errands. He agreed to pay Fernandez $157 weekly and let Fernandez use his vehicle.

Police asked the man about documents, including one in which he was supposed to give $85,000 and his pet to Fernandez upon his death, with his signature. The victim said he never signed them.

A representative of the Palm Beach County jewelry business said a Rolex watch was purchased in July for $8,000. The invoice said it was sold to Fernandez. It was purchased with the man's debit card.

Police also accused Fernandez of forging the man's signature on the title to his vehicle to “gift” himself the man's vehicle.

Only after a detective spoke to Fernandez’s lawyer and told him of possible criminal charges did Fernandez transfer the title back and return the vehicle, records show.

Family members told police the man died Feb. 9.

Records provided to police showed the man was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

A booking photo of Fernandez was not available Thursday.

Fernandez also was arrested on a charge of resisting arrest without violence after sheriff’s deputies reported he tried to hide before they forced their way into his home to arrest him on warrants related to the case.

Fernandez was held Thursday in the St. Lucie County Jail on $28,250 bond, a jail official said.

Full Article & Source:
$8,000 Rolex watch listed among St. Lucie County exploitation case purchases

Monday, March 30, 2020

1 dead after dozens of nursing home residents test positive for coronavirus

A man who was among dozens of nursing home residents in Carroll County who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state's first outbreak has died.

State and county health officials said there's an outbreak of coronavirus at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, where 66 residents have tested positive, with 11 hospitalized at Carroll Hospital Center and Frederick Memorial Hospital.

One of the residents, a man in his 90s, died Saturday evening. Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer said the man had underlying health conditions.

Singer said the facility is a comprehensive care facility with 104 beds.

"We're trying to isolate folks who are at the property. There are quite a few people who are sick," Singer said Sunday afternoon.

Singer said there are no patients going in or out of the facility as of Sunday.

County health officials said Pleasant View Mount Airy had previously implemented multiple prevention measures according to state and federal guidance, including restricting visitation and communal dining, suspending group activities, implementing extra cleaning measures and conducting daily checks for both staff and residents for symptoms.

"The facility was doing everything it was supposed to be doing up front," Singer said.

Carroll County Board of Commissioners President Stephen Wantz said officials are doing everything they can to ensure everyone is protected the most way that they can.

"This has been something that's really taxing our resources in Carroll. We never thought we would be in a position like this with an incident of this magnitude," Wantz said.

Hospital officials stress that people should follow social-distancing guidelines and stay home as they provide care.

"We have been providing staff support, supplies, anything necessary to help them provide the care," Carroll Hospital Center President Leslie Simmons said. "Our goal absolutely without a doubt is to stop the spread of the virus."

"You have got to make sure that you are doing your social distancing," Wantz said. "I'm not sure what people are not understanding about this deadly pandemic."

Simmons said people who have underlying health conditions should call their health care provider, but others should stay home.

"If you have no symptoms, you do not need to be tested. If you have mild symptoms, you should stay home and monitor your symptoms. You do not need to be tested," Simmons said.

Mount Airy Mayor Pat Rockinberg said the municipality is following emergency operations plans.

Police said they are ensuring the safety of the facility and ensuring the public is not interfering.

"We will enforce Gov. Hogan's executive order. We're asking everybody to calm down and realize this is a private property and anybody trespassing will be arrested," Maryland State Police Westminster Barrack commander Lt. Rebecca Bosley said.

The Carroll County Health Department is able to answer general questions about coronavirus at 410-876-4848.

Gov. Larry Hogan issued the following update to Marylanders:

"It took nearly three weeks for the national capital region to go from 0 to 1,000 cases of COVID-19. It took three days for the region to go from 1,000 to 2,000 cases in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. This is a rapidly evolving and escalating emergency which is now surrounding the nation's capital.

"The number of deaths in our state as a result of COVID-19 has doubled. We have lost 10 of our fellow Marylanders, and we mourn each and every one of them.

"Tonight, Maryland has experienced a tragic coronavirus outbreak at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy. Multiple state agencies are on the scene and working closely with the local health department and the facility as they take urgent steps to protect additional residents and staff who may have been exposed.

"I want to thank all of the doctors, nurses, and first responders all across our state who are working around the clock to respond to this pandemic.

"As we have been warning for weeks, older Marylanders and those with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable and at a significantly higher risk of contracting this disease.

"We continue to call for Marylanders to stay at home, except for essential reasons, in order to help stop the spread of this virus.

"We are leveraging the full arsenal of public health and government, but defeating this invisible enemy will require a unity of effort and spirit like nothing we have ever faced."

Full Article & Source:
1 dead after dozens of nursing home residents test positive for coronavirus

Collins’ Alzheimer’s bill signed into law as part of Supporting Older Americans Act

Bipartisan legislation to fight Alzheimer’s disease sponsored by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) became law on March 25 as part of a larger, sweeping bill to improve services for America’s elderly population.

Sen. Collins in March 2019 introduced the Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Act, S. 901, with original cosponsors U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to support American citizens under the age of 60 who experience the early onset of the disease by ensuring the availability of and access to certain programs and services.

Her measure became part of the Supporting Older Americans Act (OAA) of 2020, H.R. 4334, which will establish, reauthorize and revise several programs administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Labor related to care for the elderly. President Donald Trump signed H.R. 4334 into law on Wednesday.

The bipartisan bill will reauthorize the Older Americans Act for five years and includes a 7 percent increase in the initial year, and 6 percent increase annually for the remainder of the authorization.

“As chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, it was one of my highest priorities to get this bill across the finish line to strengthen the OAA’s programs while providing more flexibility for states to meet local needs,” said Sen. Collins.

Among numerous provisions, H.R. 4334 ensures that those living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease are included in key OAA services, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Collins’ office.

“For more than half a century, the Older Americans Act has served as a lifeline for millions of seniors by enriching their lives and improving their overall health,” Sen. Collins said. “This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that the OAA continues to match the goals we set to permit seniors to age with dignity, respect, and community.”

Administered by the U.S. Administration for Community Living, the OAA authorizes an array of services through a network of 56 State Units on Aging and more than 600 Area Agencies on Aging across the country.

Full Article & Source:
Collins’ Alzheimer’s bill signed into law as part of Supporting Older Americans Act

Agency Impersonation Scams, Other Fraud a $3 Billion Problem

Fraud against older persons, including scams in which federal agencies are impersonated, costs victims nearly $3 billion a year, says a report from the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

A Social Security impersonation scam is the most common one reported to the committee’s fraud hotline, it said, and an IRS impersonation scam came in seventh. That “involves scammers posing as employees of the Social Security Administration in order to fraudulently take money or obtain personally identifiable information (PII) from victims. In one common version of this scam, victims are told that their Social Security number has been linked to a crime and the situation can only be resolved by sending payment or PII,” it said.

An IRS scam had been at the top for years; in it, impersonators often accuse victims of owing back taxes that must be paid immediately and after an initial “payment” is made, con artists often convince victims to make additional payments to prevent arrest or other actions.

However, there has been a decrease in that scam as enforcement efforts by the IRS and the Justice Department have stepped up. Meanwhile the Social Security scam has been growing in frequency—complaints to the FTC more than doubled over 2018-2019—and recently expanded to include not just fake emails and phone calls but also official-looking documents purporting to be from the agency. The SSA and its inspector general’s office recently launched a new campaign against that scam, as well.

Also high on the list:

* robocalls and other unsolicited calls, some of which involve spoofing to make it appear that the call is coming from a federal agency;
* sweepstakes scams which aim to convince victims that they have won a large sum of money through the lottery, but must make up front payments for taxes and fees before collecting their prize;
* computer tech support scams in which callers claim to represent a well-known technology company in an attempt to convince victims to provide them with access to their computers; and
* the “grandparent scam” in which one of a pair of callers pretends to be a family member, often a grandchild, and claims to be in urgent need of money to cover an emergency and another impersonates an authority figure, such as a police officer pretending to confirm the story or defense attorney to make the request for money.

Full Article & Source:
Agency Impersonation Scams, Other Fraud a $3 Billion Problem

Sunday, March 29, 2020


The “Dirty Money “ documentary episode titled “Guardians, Inc.” (trailer below) is raising awareness of guardianship abuse all over the world.

People who had never heard of adult guardianship are both shocked and outraged that this abuse could and does happen in America to our elderly and adults with disabilities.

This excellent film documents that John Savanovich was targeted because of his age and because he was alone. People are reaching out to NASGA and wanting to help him.

We suggest the best way to help John is to show him that people care about what happened to him --- and that he is not alone. So, we ask anyone who would like to help him to send him a card. A deluge of cards will brighten and strengthen his spirit and surely give him an ear-to-ear smile too!

The address of the ALF where he now lives is: John Savanovich
c/o Traditions of Dedham
735 Washington St.
Dedham, MA 02026

If anyone would also be interested in writing the Gov. and Lt. Gov. of MA to inform them of the Dirty Money episode, (just in case they missed it!), here's the address:
Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karen Polito
MA State House
24 Beacon St.
Office of the Governor and Lt. Governor
Rm 280
Boston, MA 02133

Watch "Dirty Money," Season Two, Episode 5: GUARDIANS, INC.

Walt Disney’s Grandson Sues Judge Claiming He Has Down Syndrome Without Evidence, Blocking $200 Million Inheritance

Credit: Disney/Whosay
by Sean Sposato

In a national telephonic press conference today by attorney Lanny Davis, a legal representative for Walt Disney’s grandson Bradford D. Lund, the announcement was made of another count added to their previously filed U.S. Civil Rights Act complaint against Superior Court Judge David J. Cowan and the entire Los Angeles County Superior Court.

For those who have not been following along with this story, Judge Cowan recently claimed Lund had Down Syndrome from the bench, even after being presented with DNA evidence proving the opposite. The judge also ruled Lund to be “unfit” to receive his $200 million inheritance from Walt Disney and appointed him a temporary guardian to make all of his legal decisions, all without a hearing, and now Davis and his team of lawyers are trying to fight back against the rogue rulings of the legal authority.

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 12: Bradford Lund (R), Bob Wilson (C), AFP PHOTO John T. BARR/mn (JOHN T. BARR/AFP via Getty Images)
In the complaint, attorney Lanny Davis alleges that the probate court’s action is “all too reminiscent of a perspective where facts do not matter but alternative facts do, where the constitution does not matter…”

The alternative facts Davis is referencing come from a 2016 court decision by Superior Court Judge Robert Oberbillig, from a 10-day trial brought on by “disgruntled relatives” against Lund. The trial came after 7 years of litigation concerning whether Lund needed a limited guardianship–during which, Lund was examined by two court-appointed physicians, one court-appointed expert, and by the judge himself in open court.

From the investigation, Judge Oberbillig rejected the family’s claims that Lund needed guardianship and ruled that Lund was “not incapacitated.” However, Judge Cowan looked beyond this court ruling and DNA evidence, proving Lund does not have Down Syndrome, and instead stated from the bench: “Do I want to give 200 million dollars, effectively, to someone who may suffer, on some level, from Down syndrome? The answer is no.”

Source: NBC News
From this statement, Lund’s legal team announced the new Count 6, which alleges that Judge Cowan and the LA Court violated an anti-discrimination law when Judge Cowan made this “indisputably false” statement and “perception.” They claim this resulted in discrimination against Lund and his loss of freedom regarding the right to counsel and property rights without due process of law.
Additionally, the complaint also alleges Judge Cowan and the Los Angeles Superior Court violated the rights of Brad Lund by violating the US Civil Rights Act, due process rights, and anti-discrimination law.

During today’s press conference call, the legal team would not discuss specifically what damages they are seeking in the case. However, Sandra Slaton, the lead counsel of Lund’s legal team, revealed this is not so much about the damages but the fact that constitutional rights of many citizens, just like Lund’s, are violated quite often in probate court. Ultimately, at this time, their team hopes to challenge the power of not only Cowan but all judges in probate court. All of which, who are given tremendous discretion in the handling of inheritance and will and testament in the court system.

For those wondering, the fight isn’t completely over for Lund’s $200 million inheritance. However, more legal battles are ahead for the grandson of Walt Disney, who should have received his portion of his mother’s trust fund when he was 35, which was 15 years ago. Lund is now 50-years-old.

Full Article & Source:
Walt Disney’s Grandson Sues Judge Claiming He Has Down Syndrome Without Evidence, Blocking $200 Million Inheritance

Older Americans Act reauthorization signed into law

by Lois A. Bowers

H.R. 4334, the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020, was written by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), pictured here.
President Trump reauthorized the Older Americans Act for five years on Wednesday, signing into law H.R. 4334, the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020. The OAA was last reauthorized in 2016 under President Obama.

“This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that the OAA continues to match the goals we set to permit seniors to age with dignity, respect and community,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who authored the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 with Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

Since 1965, the OAA has supported older adults through programs designed to prevent abuse and neglect, support caregivers, offer employment and community service opportunities, promote nutrition (for instance, through Meals on Wheels) and improve transportation options. The Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 includes a 7% increase in funding in the initial year and a 6% increase annually for the remainder of the authorization.

The OAA serves more than 10 million older Americans annually, said Casey, ranking member of the Aging Committee. “It represents our commitment to the generations who made us who we are today and lifts up the seniors who need our help the most,” he said.

Services are provided through 56 State Units on Aging and more than 600 Area Agencies on Aging.

Debra Whitman, chair of Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition that includes LeadingAge and AMDA-Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, said the group “welcomes the unanimous reauthorization of the Older Americans Act like a fresh breath of spring.”

Elder advocacy group SAGE said the act is the first bipartisan piece of LGBT-inclusive legislation to become law during the Trump administration. The reauthorization will hold state and local departments of aging accountable for undertaking outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults who need services in their communities, according to the organization. “It also will hold them responsible for engaging in both data collection and reporting on the needs of LGBT older people and whether they are meeting those needs,” SAGE said.

The legislation, according to the senators, ensures that those living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease are included in key OAA services; improves elder abuse prevention activities through increased outreach and education activities; increases the focus on addressing detrimental impacts of social isolation; promotes multigenerational programming; advances support for age-friendly communities; improves the availability of transportation resources to seniors; extends the RAISE Family Caregivers Act for an additional year, extends the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Council for one year; enhances flexibility for states to better address the needs of grandparents raising grandchildren; increases transparency of home-modification opportunities for eligible older adults; upgrades data collection methods to understand unmet need in nutrition programs; and bolsters innovation in the OAA through evaluation of demonstrations and existing programs.

Full Article & Source:
Older Americans Act reauthorization signed into law

Sen. Casey warns residents of coronavirus scams

WASHINGTON — In light of an influx of scams related to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, warned consumers Thursday to beware of new coronavirus scams.

With millions of Americans under nationwide mandates to stay home, scam artists are using this as an opportunity to use robocalls to contact unsuspecting consumers, including seniors, in attempts to swindle them out of their money, as well as peddle fraudulent products, according to a press release from Casey’s office.

“It is outrageous that scammers are seeking to capitalize on the public anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic to prey on the public, especially seniors,” said Casey. “I urge Pennsylvanians to help me get this message out. Beware of coronavirus-related scams and take caution before handing over money or giving out personal identifiable information. Scammers are continuously updating their tactics to find new ways to trick consumers so it is imperative that all individuals, particularly older adults, are armed with information to prevent them from falling victim to a con artist.”

As this public health crisis worsens, consumers should beware of products fraudulently marketed as a “vaccine” or “cure” for COVID-19, said Casey.

Other reported scams include emails impersonating reputable organizations, like the World Health Organization, in an attempt to steal personal identifiable information. And, with the federal government preparing to send cash payments to help Americans weather the pandemic’s financial effects, con artists may pretend they are representing the government in attempt to collect a “fee” that they claim is needed prior to receiving a payment.

Earlier this month, Casey sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, concerning coronavirus-related scams and requesting information on each agency’s actions to prevent misinformation about the coronavirus. This week, Casey also sent a letter to the FTC inquiring about the agency’s efforts to protect seniors from coronavirus-related scams.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains a webpage with information on tips to avoid becoming a victim of any of the various coronavirus scams. If you or a loved one receives a suspicious call or email related to the coronavirus, do not engage, and immediately contact the Aging Committee’s toll-free Fraud Hotline at-1-855-303-9470.

Full Article & Source:
Sen. Casey warns residents of coronavirus scams

Saturday, March 28, 2020

101-Year-Old Man Who Survived 1918 Flu Beats Coronavirus, Too

His "family brought him home yesterday evening, to teach us that even at 101-years-old, the future has yet to be written."

by Foster Kamer

There are those who have been around the block, and then, there’s this guy: A 101-year-old Italian man has survived the 1918 flu, a World War, and now, the coronavirus. What’d you do today?

A patient known as “Mr. P” was admitted last week to Infirmi Hospital in Remini, Italy after testing positive for COVID-19. Mr. P was born in 1919, as the 1918 flu pandemic — which would go on to kill an estimated 600,000 Italians — was in full-swing. And on Wednesday night, 101 someodd years later, Mr. P was discharged from the hospital, and taken home by his family.

The Vice Mayor of Rimini, Gloria Lisi, provided a statement to local newspaper ReminiToday about the man. The (incredibly poetic) statement, roughly translated, reads:
“Given the progress of the virus, it could not even be called a ‘story like many’ if it were not for a detail that makes the life of the person returned to their loved ones truly extraordinary.
Mr. P., from Rimini, was born in 1919, in the midst of another tragic world pandemic. He saw everything, hunger, pain, progress, crisis and resurrections. Once over the 100-year-old barrier, fate has put this new challenge before him, invisible and terrible at the same time. Last week, Mr. P. was hospitalized at in Rimini after testing positive for COVID-19. In a few days, it became ‘history’ for doctors, nurses, and the rest of the healthcare personnel who treated him.
A hope for the future finds itself in the body of a person over a century old, as the sad chronicles of these weeks mechanically tell every day of a virus that is raging especially on the elderly.
Yet, Mr. P. made it. The family brought him home yesterday evening, to teach us that even at 101-years-old, the future has yet to be written.”
Per the Hopkins Map, as of this writing, Italy leads the world in COVID-19 infections resulting in death, and is likely to overtake China within the day for total confirmed infections. But their rate of infections continues to slow, and the country’s lockdown appears to be working. The reality of the math is brutal, but Mayor Lisi isn’t wrong: The future, as doubly evidenced, isn’t entirely bleak, and has very, very much yet to be written.

Full Article & Source:
101-Year-Old Man Who Survived 1918 Flu Beats Coronavirus, Too

How to Support Older Relatives During the Covid-19 Outbreak

Cathleen Colón-Emeric, MD, chief of the Division of Geriatrics at the Duke School of Medicine
by Mary-Russell Roberson

Like many of us, Dr.  Cathleen Colón-Emeric, chief of the Division of Geriatrics at the Duke School of Medicine, has older parents who live nearby. Here are some of her suggestions for navigating the new and urgent conversations and decisions facing many families, including her own.

Q: What conversations should we be having with our older relatives?
Colón-Emeric: This is challenging because it requires talking about difficult topics like mortality. The message we’re giving to older adults is that after age 70 your risk of dying from this infection goes up exponentially, from less than 1 percent for younger people to as high as 13 percent for adults in their 70s and 80s. If your father says, “I’m healthy and strong,” change your appeal to “You could bring the virus home to mom and she’s more frail.” 

For older adults with cognitive impairment, we suggest putting up signs on the refrigerator or the door as an extra reminder they need to stay put. Frequent reminders and daily check-in calls can be really helpful. Think proactively of how you can facilitate their social distancing by making sure their pantries are stocked and arranging for home delivery of medications. 

Q: My parents and I are arguing about what’s safe for them to do. What’s the most important point I need to make?
Colón-Emeric: The activities you want to discourage are where they are going to be in close proximity with a lot of folks. If there is something that your older loved one is insisting on doing, try to understand their motivation. Is there a compromise to make that activity safer? With going to grocery store, it may be they are worried about imposing on you. Set up a grocery delivery option, or curbside pickup.

Q: How can I keep my extroverted dad from getting socially isolated?
Colón-Emeric: There’s plenty of literature to suggest that if we completely cut off older adults from social engagement, that’s not healthy. It’s a matter of judging risk versus benefit for those social contacts. If your dad has a friend that he goes out to lunch with, have them convert that to a walk where they can maintain more social distance. Or they could develop an online chat group. 

Be creative and look for opportunities to engage virtually. Set up a video chat time every night. Try games and apps where you can interact virtually, like Words with Friends. Do online crossword puzzles “together.” Many of the symphony orchestras are converting to virtual concert halls, including the Berlin Philharmonic. My family is going to watch a concert virtually in our own homes and we’ll be able to talk about it afterward. We’re celebrating my husband’s birthday by going to a park with my parents, just the four of us.

Q: Should my older relatives go to routine medical appointments?
Colón-Emeric: For routine check-ups, or routine visits to the dermatologist or a specialist for a chronic medical condition that’s stable, we’re suggesting those get converted to telemedicine appointments. If they need to be seen face to face, that’s fine, but for most folks it’s to their benefit to stay put and touch base via telemedicine.

Q: How can I encourage my parents to stay physically active while self-isolating?
Colón-Emeric: Sitting on the couch all day is not healthy either, so encourage them to get out and take a walk. Most local parks are staying open, and there are lots of lovely trails they can explore. The National Institute on Aging has an online program called “Go 4 Life” with great at-home exercise videos, a downloadable book, online chat groups, and the option to make and track exercise goals.  

Q: Should my parents move in with me?
Colón-Emeric: If you are working in healthcare and potentially bringing home the virus, that would be something you want to avoid. If your parents need a lot of care or if social isolation is getting to them and your whole family is going to be hunkered down, it could be a reasonable solution for some families.

Q: My parents receive visits from professional caretakers. Should we cancel this service?
Colón-Emeric: Again, that’s going to be an individual family risk-benefit decision. All home care agencies have protocols in place to screen workers each day and they are making sure they are doing hygiene between visits, but it’s still a risk. Some families are temporarily suspending those services; others are saying the family isn’t able to provide those services, so the risk is worth it. There is no one-size-fits-all. 

Q: What if my older relative develops symptoms of COVID-19?
Colón-Emeric: The most appropriate thing to do is call their primary care provider. All primary care providers have protocols in place for how they are going to assess people over the phone. Let the primary care provider make the call about whether they meet testing guidelines. If they do, the provider will have to decide whether to send the public health nurse to their home, or have them come to a drive-through testing site, or go to the emergency room.

If a loved one doesn’t have a primary care provider, then the local public health department has these services available. If they are going via 911, let the dispatcher know that they are displaying symptoms so EMS workers can take specific precautions.

Full Article & Source:
How to Support Older Relatives During the Covid-19 Outbreak

Missouri governor mobilizes National Guard for virus fight


ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri braced for a surge of coronavirus patients as the number of deaths grew to nine, with the governor mobilizing the state's National Guard and a top St. Louis County official urging recently retired health care workers to return to work.

During a virtual press conference with the governor on Friday, Missouri National Guard Adjutant General Levon Cumpton said the Guard is "here to help you, not to control you.” He said missions might include setting up community-based testing centers and transporting medical equipment.

“I want to be perfectly clear: This is not about putting Missouri under martial law,” Gov. Mike Parson said.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, in a YouTube video released Thursday, asked that any recently retired doctors, nurses or other health care professional come back to work.

“In the coming weeks our medical institutions will face a heavy burden,” Page said. “We need your help to make sure everyone gets the treatment that they need.”

The number of confirmed cases increased Friday to 670, up 168 from Thursday, according to state health officials. They also reported nine deaths Friday before Springfield-Greene County health officials announced a fourth person had died at an assisted living home in Springfield.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department said a woman in her 90s died at the Morningside East assisted-living center before three other women at the center died. The agency said the woman wasn't tested but it is considering her a COVID-19 victim due to her close contact with them. Four other people at the home have tested positive for the disease.

Lisa Cox, a spokeswoman for the Missouri health department, said Friday the state would not “at this time” count the Springfield woman's death as a coronavirus death.

Missouri Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams on Friday said about 7,000 people have been tested for the virus in Missouri, putting the state's rate of positive cases among individuals tested for the COVID-19 virus at closer to 10%. The state health department is rationing tests and doesn't recommend testing people without symptoms.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But the virus can lead to pneumonia and even death for some people, especially older adults and those with existing health problems.

Missouri's Social Services Department on Saturday will start fielding phone calls about food stamps seven days a week to deal with the influx of requests for help. The agency on Friday also announced that the federal government approved its request to temporarily suspend phone interviews for food stamps.

Among the hard-hit places in Missouri is Life Care Center in St. Louis, a nursing home that has reported six cases. Sean Buckley, executive director of the Life Care Center in St. Louis, said in a written statement that four residents were hospitalized and two employees were directed to stay at home.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the nursing home is owned by the same company that operates the Life Care Center of Kirkland, near Seattle, where 37 people died from COVID-19. Another Life Care facility in Kansas City was the site of Kansas’ first coronavirus death.

Stay-at-home orders are in place across much of the state, and on Friday the city of St. Louis cracked down further, closing all playgrounds. The St. Louis Department of Health said people had been gathering in large groups at playgrounds, increasing the risk of children either contracting or spreading the virus.

Full Article & Source: 
Missouri governor mobilizes National Guard for virus fight

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Staggering, Heartless Cruelty Toward the Elderly

Crises can elicit compassion, but they can also evoke callousness. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve witnessed communities coming together (even as they have sometimes been physically forced apart), and we’ve seen individuals engaging in simple acts of kindness to remind the sick and quarantined that they are not forgotten. Yet from some quarters, we’ve also seen a degree of cruelty that is truly staggering.

Earlier today, a friend posted on Facebook about an experience he’d just had on the Upper West Side of Manhattan: “I heard a guy who looked to be in his 20s say that it’s not a big deal cause the elderly are gonna die anyway. Then he and his friend laughed … Maybe I’m lucky that I had awesome grandparents and maybe this guy didn’t but what is wrong with people???” Some have tried to dress up their heartlessness as generational retribution. As someone tweeted at me earlier today, “To be perfectly honest, and this is awful, but to the young, watching as the elderly over and over and over choose their own interests ahead of Climate policy kind of feels like they’re wishing us to a death they won’t have to experience. It’s a sad bit of fair play.”

Read: America’s nursing homes are bracing for an outbreak

Notice how the all-too-familiar rhetoric of dehumanization works: “The elderly” are bunched together as a faceless mass, all of them considered culprits and thus effectively deserving of the suffering the pandemic will inflict upon them. Lost entirely is the fact that the elderly are individual human beings, each with a distinctive face and voice, each with hopes and dreams, memories and regrets, friendships and marriages, loves lost and loves sustained. But they deserve to die—and as for us, we can just go about our business.

It is bad enough if we remain indifferent to the plight of our elders; it is far worse to dress up our failings as moral indignation.

As a rabbi and theologian watching this ethical train wreck, I find myself thinking about the biblical mandate to “honor your father and mother.” The Hebrew word usually translated as “honor,” kabed, comes from a root meaning “weight.” At the deepest level, then, the biblical command is thus to treat the elderly as weighty. Conversely, the Bible prohibits “cursing” one’s parents. The Hebrew word usually translated as “curse,” tekalel, derives from a root meaning “light.” At bottom, then, the biblical proscription is on treating the elderly lightly, as if they are inconsequential.

Why do I say “the elderly”? In its biblical context, the obligation to honor parents is a command given to grown children (as are the Ten Commandments more broadly—you don’t tell children not to commit adultery nor to covet their neighbors’ fields). When you are an adult, the Bible instructs, you must not abandon the elderly. Giving voice to a pervasive human fear, the Psalmist prays, “Do not cast me off in old age; when my strength fails, do not forsake me!”

What does it say about our society that people think of the elderly so dismissively—and moreover, that they feel no shame about expressing such thoughts publicly? I find myself wondering whether this colossal moral failure is exacerbated by the most troubled parts of our cultural and economic life. When people are measured and valued by their economic productivity, it is easy to treat people whose most economically productive days have passed as, well, worthless.

From a religious perspective, if there is one thing we ought to teach our children, it is that our worth as human beings does not depend on or derive from what we do or accomplish or produce; we are, each of us, infinitely valuable just because we are created in the image of God. We mattered before we were old enough to be economically productive, and we will go on mattering even after we cease to be economically productive.

Varied ethical and religious traditions find their own ways to affirm an elemental truth of human life: The elderly deserve our respect and, when necessary, our protection. The mark of a decent society is that it resists the temptation to spurn the defenseless. It is almost a truism that the moral fabric of a society is best measured by how it treats the vulnerable in its midst—and yet it is a lesson we never seem to tire of forgetting. “You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old,” the Bible says—look out for them and, in the process, become more human yourself.

Full Article & Source:
The Staggering, Heartless Cruelty Toward the Elderly

Lakewood nurse sentenced to 3 years probation for stealing prescription drugs from patients

By Chris Anderson and Tiarra Braddock

Click to Watch Video
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A former nurse from the Lakewood area was sentenced to probation on Wednesday morning.

Michelle Brown appeared in front of a judge on theft and drug possession charges after being convicted for stealing prescription drugs from her patients.

“I took one of the patient’s morphine and I would replaced it with water,” said Brown.

Before the judge handed down her sentence, Brown explained it was her addiction to alcohol that made her steal medication from her patients.

“I know I can overcome this, I know I can,” Brown added.

The judge ordered that Brown serve three years of probationary community control. If she violates the sanction, Brown could be sent to prison for up to 18 months.

Investigators say Brown stole drugs from patients while she was working at the Crestmont North Nursing Facility on Detroit Road.

“This defendant took advantage of her position as a nurse to illicitly obtain drugs and tried to conceal the evidence. In doing so, she placed innocent patients at risk by tampering with their medication,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley said.

Full Article & Source:
Lakewood nurse sentenced to 3 years probation for stealing prescription drugs from patients

A Louisiana judge says drug users are too unhygienic to be released from jail

By Radley Balko

Earlier this month, Calcasieu Parish, La., public defender Harry Fontenot sent a letter to judges and the district attorney’s office arguing for the release of nonviolent offenders from the parish jail to prevent the spread of covid-19. Judges, prosecutors and court staff held a meeting March 16 to discuss the matter. Defense attorneys were not invited. But just before the gathering, 14th Judicial District Court Judge David Ritchie sent a text to some of the attendees outlining his thoughts on the matter. A source shared the text with me. It reads:
I want to know what was considered by those who agreed that “under the circumstances” it is a good idea to release the nonviolent prisoners from the [Calcasieu Correctional Center], other than Harry’s email from last week. Who is this intended to help? As we all should know, the members of this particular population are overwhelmingly drug addicts who have the worst hygiene of anyone in the community, other than the mentally ill. Right now, they are realistically quarantined in jail. I assume that none of you called the jail to find out if it was necessary or advisable to take this action, since I called [CCC warden Chris] Domingue and he wasn’t aware of any such contact. He told me that they have implemented protocols to do their best to make sure Corona doesn’t enter the CCC, which includes screening people as they are booked in, not allowing visitors, etc. The drug addicts will be right back out using and stealing and getting rearrested, which is much more likely to introduce the virus into the jail and spread it in the community. I’ll have more to say at the meeting, but it makes no sense at all, if the purpose is supposed to be to prevent the spread of Corona.
Two people have confirmed that they received this text from Ritchie. Both sources, who requested that they not be identified, said that Ritchie reiterated these comments at the meeting, almost verbatim. One said Ritchie’s comments shocked many of those present. “There was a pause in the room. I think we were all surprised to hear a judge talk about people that way.” Ritchie’s office did not respond to a voice mail and email requesting comment.

“This judge seems to have said the quiet part out loud,” said Rachel Elise Barkow, a New York University School of Law professor and author of “Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration.” “Some of us suspect and fear judges are locking up people who they think are generally undesirable without really thinking about the danger of future crime, and this judge made it explicit.”

Even if Ritchie’s blanket, offensive characterization of drug users and the mentally ill were true (and of course not all people arrested for drug possession are “addicts”), it wouldn’t be a legally valid reason to keep them in jail. “When the Supreme Court upheld allowing dangerousness to be part of the bail determination, it specifically focused on the danger of future crime,” Barkow said. “If the notion of dangerousness could include something like a defendant’s hygiene or propensity to get sick, we’d see our jails even more overflowing than they are now and the end of due process as we know it.”

Defendants in Calcasieu Parish already face a system that can keep them in jail for long stretches before even getting a hearing. Judges in the parish typically set bonds before defendants are assigned a public defender, which means there’s no one present to advocate for a lower bond or for release on personal recognizance. Judges also cycle between the criminal and civil courts, meaning the judge handling a particular case may not hold another criminal court session for weeks. Parish public defender Carla Edmondson told me that it isn’t unusual in, for example, a drug possession charge for a defendant to be incarcerated for weeks before getting a chance to challenge his or her bond. One client of hers spent three months in jail without a hearing, only to later have all of the charges dropped.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, there have been additional challenges. Jail visits have been suspended for the past week, which makes it more difficult for defense attorneys to communicate with clients. And judges are working from home, making them more difficult to reach.

Ritchie was the judge on duty last week in what’s locally called “72-hour court,” or the court that sets bonds, signs warrants and takes care of legal matters that can’t be postponed. Edmondson tried to file an omnibus motion to release 16 nonviolent offenders from the jail, citing the threat from the virus. Ritchie refused to sign the motion, or to even set a hearing. Edmondson then contacted the judge presiding over those cases at home and, two days later, won the release of 15 of the 16 defendants after conferencing with the new judge and a prosecutor.

On March 16, the ordered a postponement of jury trials. It has since ordered state courts to suspend nonemergency hearings and, as best they can, conduct emergency hearings via telephone or video conferencing. The courts in Calcasieu Parish are still transitioning. One defense attorney said her last hearing was in a courtroom with the prosecutor and judge, but her client appeared from the jail via video.

Currently the Calcasieu Parish jail is holding 1,085 people, just short of its 1,200 capacity. There have been no confirmed coronavirus cases, though there have been at other corrections facilities in the state. The sheriff’s department said it’s screening new arrivals at the jail, including taking their temperatures, and inmates are under a type of quarantine. But of course those infected with covid-19 can shed the virus before presenting with symptoms such as fever. ″You can’t socially distance in jail," Edmondson said. “By keeping people in there for nonviolent offenses, you’re sacrificing not just my clients, but their families, and corrections staff and their families.”

Meanwhile, arrests in the parish for low-level offenses haven’t stopped. In just the past several days a man was arrested on suspicion of criminal mischief, and multiple people were arrested on charges of drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Full Article & Source:
A Louisiana judge says drug users are too unhygienic to be released from jail

Thursday, March 26, 2020

98 Year Old Mom Moves to Nursing Home To Look After 80-Year-Old Son

Of all the types of love, a mother’s is the strongest. … A mother’s love is unconditional and eternal. A mother will do anything for her children, regardless of their age!

A 98-year-old mom went viral after moving into the same nursing home her 80-year-old son was in order to take care of him.

Ada Keating is an exceptional woman who wanted to stay by her son`s side when they needed each other the most. Even in her age, she knows best, and it seems that both of them are grateful for the closeness in the picture below.

Tom Keating, Ada’s son, moved to the Moss View care home in Huyton, Liverpool as he needed more care than what could have been given to him at home. The next year, his mom decided to move into the same nursing home because she couldn’t stand being without him.  Mother and son are so grateful they get to spend their time together, playing games and watching TV to pass the time. 

About the Keatings 

Ada and Tom have always been very close, mostly because Tom never married but lived with his mom for all his adult life. As Ada explained, they have certain daily routines, so he knows what to expect.  “I say goodnight to Tom in his room every night and I’ll go and say good morning to him,” she said. “I’ll tell him I’m coming down for breakfast.

They have a very deep bond even in their old age. When I go out to the hairdressers he’ll look for me to see when I’m coming back,” she said. “When I get back he’ll come to me with his arms outstretched and give me a big hug. You never stop being a mum.” Tom added, “They’re very good here and I’m happy to see my mum more now she lives here. Sometimes she’ll say ‘behave yourself.’ She’s very good at looking after me.

Tom is the oldest of 4 children; he had 3 sisters, Janet, Margi, and Barbara who passed away at 13. Tom worked as a decorator and painter before he retired while his mom worked as a nurse at Mill Road Hospital before her retirement. Their family members visit them often and are very happy to see them together. “There’s no parting them. It’s reassuring for us that they’re both getting looked after 24/7,” Debi Higham, Ada’s granddaughter said.

Philip Daniels, the manager at this nursing home, said he is very happy the mother and son can be together at his facility.

 “It’s very touching to see the close relationship both Tom and Ada share and we are so pleased we were able to accommodate both of their needs,” he said.

He added, “It’s very rare to see mothers and their children together in the same care home and we certainly want to make their time as special as possible. They are inseparable.”

Full Article & Source:
98 Year Old Mom Moves to Nursing Home To Look After 80-Year-Old Son

Lakewood nurse convicted of stealing prescription drugs from patients set to be sentenced

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A former nurse from the Lakewood area is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday morning.

Michelle Brown is convicted of theft and drug possession. Her sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m.

Investigators say Brown stole drugs from patients while she was working at the Crestmont North Nursing Facility on Detroit Road.

Brown would remove bottles of morphine and hydromorphone from a medication cart that was prescribed for patients, according to prosecutors. She then added water to bottles in an attempt to conceal the theft.

Lakewood nurse convicted of stealing drugs from patients

“This defendant took advantage of her position as a nurse to illicitly obtain drugs and tried to conceal the evidence. In doing so, she placed innocent patients at risk by tampering with their medication,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley said.

Full Article & Source:
Lakewood nurse convicted of stealing prescription drugs from patients set to be sentenced

What should be done? Mental health conservatorship in California

Law for who can receive involuntary treatment leaves families without options

By Jocelyn Wiener / CalMatters 
Mark Rippee's sisters Catherine "CJ" Hanson and Linda Privatte
Families of individuals like Mark Rippee worry if they’ll survive the night. 

Rippee has schizophrenia from a motorcycle accident, which left him blind and with severe brain damage. 

Some families recognize that conservatorship – in which a court-appointed conservator manages another person’s living situation, medical decisions and mental health treatment — is no panacea, and should be a last resort.

In the half-century since it was passed, much of the debate about helping people like Rippee has centered on the Lanterman-Petris-Short law, which set strict guidelines for involuntary treatment of people who are determined to be a danger to themselves or others, or gravely disabled.

While several recent bills have sought to modify the law, focusing on the term “gravely disabled,” a shortage of placements and a lack of funding for county programs means there would be nowhere to send many of those who would qualify to be conserved. Earlier this year, a state budget proposal to increase the amount of funding for public guardians by 35 percent, or $68 million, failed.

More than 5,000 people in the state were in permanent conservatorships, and close to 2,000 were in temporary conservatorships, as of 2016-17, according to data collected by the Department of Health Care Services. State administrators say the data is extremely incomplete. 

Most state hospital beds are now reserved for people in the criminal justice system. Inmates with mental illness can wait in limbo for months or even years in county jails before a bed opens up.

Five years ago, an average of 343 inmates with mental illness were awaiting placement. Last year, the average was 819.

“The easiest legislative fix is to expand conservatorship,” said Chris Koper, a legislative analyst for the California State Association of Public Administrators, Public Guardians and Public Conservators. “It then will appear that the Legislature is trying to do something. But as is often the case with social problems, the wound is so much deeper than that. And the wound will require a lot of money.”

Last year lawmakers agreed to create a narrow five-year pilot program that makes it easier for three counties (San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego) to conserve homeless individuals with serious mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders. The program allows courts to conserve individuals who have been placed under a 72-hour psychiatric hold at least eight times in a year. 

Disability rights advocates insist that maintaining the standards outlined by Lanterman-Petris-Short is essential to protect people’s civil rights. Most people with serious mental illnesses aren’t refusing help, they say. Appropriate help just isn’t available.

As San Francisco has assumed new authority to place people under conservatorships, The San Francisco Chronicle found a backlog. In a locked ward at San Francisco General Hospital, individuals who were conserved were waiting four months for placement in Napa State Hospital, and even longer for a residential facility.

Even without the pilot program, depending on where you live, public defenders, judges, public guardians and others have different interpretations of the law.

On April 24, 2018, Rippee’s sister, Linda Privatte, told the Solano County Board of Supervisors that her brother had attempted suicide more than 20 times, showing up repeatedly to beg the board for help. This spring, she received an email from Supervisor Skip Thomson’s office on behalf of the county, explaining that her brother could not be conserved in part because each time he was placed on an involuntary hold, he stabilized to the point that he legally had to be released.

“This is not a situation that we have ignored nor that we condone,” the letter said. “Simply the law requires stringent standards to impose conservatorships – standards that so far we cannot meet.”

Last fall, dozens of mental health leaders from around the state gathered in Sacramento to talk about the future of Lanterman-Petris-Short. They discussed how counties lack the resources to build out a continuum of care.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg asked his colleagues if the debate around involuntary treatment might be reframed to insist that people have both a right —and an obligation —to come indoors. That would mean that, before the state could compel people to come indoors, they would have to have safe, appropriate placements to offer them.

“Our North Star needs to be to end this horrific situation,” he said.

For Rippee’s sisters, Privatte and Catherine Hanson, they worry their own health problems might someday leave no one to fight for him. 

 “He is the worst-case scenario of anybody being so vulnerable on the streets,” Hanson said. “Every winter we wonder: Is this going to be the year that he dies?”

Full Article & Source:
What should be done? Mental health conservatorship in California