Saturday, January 27, 2024

Hearing on Safety Issues at Assisted Living Facilities

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The Senate Aging Committee examined the state of the assisted living industry. One of the witnesses was Patricia Vessenmeyer, whose late husband lived in an assisted living facility due to dementia. She described the poor conditions in the residence and the exorbitant costs she paid for it. Assisted living facilities are primarily regulated by states, unlike nursing homes, which are regulated by both federal and state agencies.

Hearing on Safety Issues at Assisted Living Facilities

Misericordia faculty member testifies to the Senate Special Committee on Aging

Misericordia faculty member testifies to the Senate Special Committee on Aging

William Stauffer, LSW, CCS, CADC, adjunct professor of Social Work at Misericordia University, addressed the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging's hearing on the topic "Understanding a Growing Crisis: Substance Use Disorder Among Older Adults," held on December 14 in Washington, D.C. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) serves as chairman of the committee and conducted the hearing.

Stauffer, who is also the executive director of The Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations - Alliance, returned to speak to the Special Committee following his testimony during a 2018 hearing on the growing need for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) services for older Americans.

The topic of Stauffer's testimony during the committee's December hearing focused on the stigma in healthcare and our communities regarding older adults with Substance Use Disorder (SUD).

"Stigma is a huge issue; it keeps things invisible. When a loved one dies from an alcohol-related fall, the underlying issue doesn't get reported. When someone dies from SUD, the root cause doesn't get reported," said Stauffer. "One in three healthcare providers believes that people can and do recover from SUD. If only one in three providers think people recover, people won't go to them for help. Research shows that people who get help, treatment, and the support they need will recover."

This is particularly true, according to Stauffer, for our older adult community members.

"We ignore them when they are suffering. Stigma prevents older patients from reporting they have a problem, the medical community in asking patients questions about substance use, and it even prevents family members from seeking help for their loved ones. As a result of these dynamics, perhaps the most significant fact is that we do not know the true prevalence of SUDs in the older population," he testified to the committee.

The young adults from 1978 who are turning 75 this year, had the highest level of substance use over their lifetime than those before them. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the median age in the U.S. last year was 38.9 years. In Pennsylvania, the median age was 40.9 years, the oldest of any state in the nation. Pennsylvania currently ranks fifth in the nation when it comes to the size of its population aged 65 and older (2.2 million).

The demographics reveal that our population of older adults will be increasing over the next 20 years. "We will need to think more critically about what we do concerning older adults. There are going to be even more of us in the coming years; we cannot afford to ignore their needs any longer," he said. 

The trends for substance use, dependence, and addiction mortality trends in older adults are alarming. The rate of drug use in people over 40 is increasing faster than it is among younger age groups. Drug-related deaths for users over 50 increase by 3% annually. Seventy-five percent of deaths from SUDs among users aged 50 and older are caused by opioids. In 2020, alcohol-induced causes were recorded as the underlying cause of death for 11,616 adults aged 65 and over, and age-related death rates for alcohol-induced causes have been increasing since 2011.

"We need to get ahead of this curve by providing prevention, treatment, and recovery community support for older adults," said Stauffer during his testimony.

The question then becomes, what can we do the help older adults with SUD in our communities?

Stauffer encourages the entire community — friends and loved ones of older adults with SUD, as well as medical professionals — to think about SUD in a different way; to provide care and support to these individuals the way we do with other chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure.

"Older adults are looking for a purpose; let's use the talents and skills they have and support them. I've never met a person who has talents and skills that they don't want to share. We could develop an older Adult Recovery Community Corps for older adults looking for a purpose; to pair them with others to share their talents and skills while providing hope, purpose, and connection," he said.

Pennsylvania is already heading in this direction. Governor Shapiro signed an executive order last year to develop a Master Plan for Older Adults, a 10-year strategic plan designed to transform the infrastructure and coordination of services for older Pennsylvanians. It includes a focus on SUD treatment and recovery needs.

"This is a vital step to identifying not only the challenges our older adult community members face, but also their inherent strengths and talents that they offer to our society," said Stauffer.

In addition to community support, the focus of healthcare needs to change. "We need to shift our SUD service system to focus beyond acute stabilization; we do not cover all of the treatment services older adults require to sustain recovery from an SUD. Roughly 85% of people who sustain five years of recovery remain in recovery for life, but older adults don’t get a full continuum of support, because we do not fund it," he testified.

The work of the committee is far from over. Stauffer has already been contacted with additional questions from Senator Casey's staff, who are scheduling a follow-up meeting with Stauffer at his Harrisburg offices.

To watch Stauffer's testimony, click here. For more information about Misericordia's Social Work Program, click here. 

Misericordia faculty member testifies to the Senate Special Committee on Aging

Provider faces lawsuit over resident’s freezing death as assisted living industry finds itself on the hot seat

by Kimberly Bonvissuto

Senior woman with walking frame having walk at winter
(Credit: Johner Images / Getty Images)

The family of a woman with dementia who wandered outside of her memory care unit and froze to death is suing the community for negligence in failing to prevent her death.

News of the lawsuit comes as the assisted living industry is facing increased examination nationwide over safety, staffing and pricing — including a US Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing today and an ongoing review by the committee featuring three of the country’s largest senior living community operators.

The hearing and review are being conducted in response to recent articles in The Washington Post, which in December reported on the deaths of several residents who had eloped from communities, as well as November articles by the New York Times and KFF Health News, which covered an industry pricing structure that adds fees on top of basic charges to cover additional services, as well as rate increases and the for-profit status of most providers.

The lawsuit involves Lynne Stewart, 77, who was found outside of Courtyard Estates at Hawthorne Crossing in Bondurant, IA, on Jan. 21, 2022. An investigation uncovered that Stewart, who lived in the memory care unit, wandered outside of the building at 9:30 p.m. the previous night, but her absence went unnoticed for more than eight hours despite multiple alarm system warnings.

The complaint, filed Jan. 15 in Iowa District Court in Polk County, accuses AbiliT Holdings LLC (doing business as Courtyard Estates) and Jaybird Senior Living of gross negligence, reckless disregard for safety and negligent hiring, retention and supervision of employees, leading to the wrongful death of Stewart. The suit was filed by the estates of Stewart and her daughter, Sara Gwinn, who died in November. 

Stewart — who had diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease, major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder — moved into the assisted living community on March 30, 2019, relocating to the memory care unit on Aug. 23, 2019.

According to the complaint, on Jan. 20, 2022, Stewart wandered from her room, triggering the first door alarm at 4:23 p.m. The personal door alarm on Stewart’s apartment was installed with double-sided tape rather than hardware, resulting in multiple false alarms that desensitized staff members to those alarms, the lawsuit alleges.

After wandering the memory care unit hallways, Stewart made her way outside of the community at 9:34 p.m., triggering an outside door alarm that was not loud enough to be heard in the community common area where staff members were working, according to the complaint. Alerts also did not appear on iPads due to malfunctions previously known to the defendants, the lawsuit maintains. Alerts did appear on office computers, but no staff members were assigned to monitor those computers during the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift, according to the complaint.

According to a state investigation, the community’s executive director received a series of text message alerts when door alarms were triggered, but she slept through those alerts. The on-call registered nurse reportedly received a similar series of alerts but failed to respond, telling investigators that mechanical defects caused the alarms in Stewart’s room to trigger “constantly.”

Stewart was found outside the exit door to the community at 6:10 a.m. the next day in temperatures that dipped below freezing. 

The complaint alleges that the defendants knew that Stewart had a tendency to wander and had memory issues, episodes of depression and anxiety, sundowning and a routine of packing up her belongings and attempting to leave the community in the evenings. According to her service plan, Stewart required 24-hour supervision in the memory care unit, an ankle monitor/alarm, a personal apartment door alarm and hourly visual safety checks.

Workers face suits

Catherine Forkpa, a certified nursing assistant in charge of the memory care unit on the night Stewart died, was charged with murder, later pleading guilty to dependent abuse. Sally Daniels, a former resident assistant in charge of the assisted living unit, was later fired but filed a racial discrimination lawsuit alleging that the company used Black employees as scapegoats in Stewart’s death, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch

The state cited the community for numerous safety breaches and fined it $10,000. The community also was cited for not providing Forkpa with required dementia training during her first month on the job.

Courtyard Estates and Jaybird Senior Living had not responded to a request for comment from McKnight’s Senior Living as of the production deadline.

Full Article & Source:
Provider faces lawsuit over resident’s freezing death as assisted living industry finds itself on the hot seat

Friday, January 26, 2024

Look, I Don't Need Conservatorship ... Plenty Reasons Why!!!

Full Article & Source:
Look, I Don't Need Conservatorship ... Plenty Reasons Why!!!

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Families could monitor Iowa nursing home residents under bill

Proposal comes amid abuse and neglect reports at Iowa facilities

DES MOINES — Families of nursing home residents would be allowed to monitor their rooms using cameras under a bill advanced Tuesday by Iowa lawmakers.

The bill, House File 537, is intended to give family members greater ability to monitor the safety of their relatives in nursing homes, said Rep. Joel Fry, one of the bill’s sponsors. Fry, a Republican from Osceola, said the bill has been in development for years, but concerns about privacy and confidentiality have made it difficult to get it passed by lawmakers and signed into law.

“This bill has been worked on for a lot of years, and we’re finally getting this bill to a place where everybody is coalescing around the bill,” he said.

Before monitoring by a security camera could begin, the bill requires a nursing home resident to consent unless he or she is deemed unable by a health care provider to understand the nature of the monitoring. If a resident is deemed unable to consent, the resident’s representative — an attorney or legal guardian — would be able to consent for them.

Roommates in a shared room also would need to consent if one resident agrees. If a roommate does not consent, the nursing home would have to work to accommodate the request by offering either of the residents a different room.

The bill comes as Iowa nursing homes face heightened scrutiny after multiple reports in the last year of deaths, abuse and neglect at long-term care facilities.

In December, Iowa Senate Democrats called for oversight investigations into the state’s nursing homes. Republicans, who control both chambers of the Legislature, rejected that request and said there are already mechanisms in place to detect and prevent abuse at the facilities.

According to a report from the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, Iowa ranks 49th out of the 50 states in its ratio of nursing home inspectors to facilities.

Ten Iowa nursing homes are listed as eligible for special oversight by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, and two others are listed as special focus facilities.

Fry said the increased attention on problems at Iowa’s nursing homes puts a spotlight on the proposal, but that he thinks lawmakers would be moving ahead anyway notwithstanding those reports of death, abuse and neglect.

“Certainly, some of the issues that have happened across the state make this a much more heightened issue,” he said. “I think we’d be at this spot anyway, regardless of whether we had any of those issues popping up. We've been working on this a while.”

Lobbyists representing Iowa’s nursing homes and health care providers said they were undecided on the bill and said they would like to work with lawmakers on the details as it moves forward.

Rep. Timi Brown-Powers, a Democrat from Waterloo, said she had concerns about who would be able to access the surveillance videos, how long the videos would be saved and how to protect the privacy of roommates.

“I think we need to do something. I think doing nothing is not an option at this juncture,” she said. “But I do have some questions to make sure that we are giving the best care, the most dignity to these folks and keeping people safe all at the same time.”

The proposal was passed unanimously by a subcommittee and next goes to the House Health and Human Services Committee.

Full Article & Source:
Families could monitor Iowa nursing home residents under bill

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Former Citi VP in Chicago charged with elder fraud

Helen Caldwell, whose actions were spotlighted in an Injustice Watch investigation published by the Sun-Times, is charged with bilking $1.5 million by steering elderly banking clients to invest in her side deals producing slasher movies.

David Jackson

A former Chicago banking executive was charged Friday with swindling her elderly clients out of nearly $1.5 million by using her influence to persuade them to invest in her private side deals producing movies.

Helen Grace Caldwell, 58, a wealth adviser who until 2021 was a vice president in the South Michigan Avenue offices of Citibank, was charged with wire fraud by the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago.

Contacted Friday, Caldwell’s attorney said she intends to plead guilty. 

“My client has taken responsibility and we’ve reached an agreement with the government as to a disposition,” attorney Steven Rosenberg said.

He would not discuss any details, including possible financial restitution or penalties.

Wire fraud carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Caldwell’s case was detailed in an Injustice Watch series also published by the Chicago Sun-Times in August that described gaping holes in Illinois’ safety net intended to thwart a skyrocketing number of fraud cases targeting the old and frail.

According to the charging documents filed Friday by acting U.S. Attorney Morris Pasqual, Caldwell persuaded her Citi clients to invest in horror movies being produced and promoted by her movie company, Canal Productions LLC. According to the charges, each would share in the profits. 

“In fact, as defendant knew, those representations were false because defendant intended to misappropriate, and did misappropriate, those proceeds for personal purposes,” the charging documents say.

Neither the victims nor Citi were named in the charging documents, which referred only to victims A, B, and C and bank A.

In separate federal actions late last year, Caldwell was barred from working in the securities industry by the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and prohibited from working in banking by the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Also, Caldwell and Citi were sued by Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert, who accused the Fortune 500 company of ailing to adequately police Caldwell’s conflicts of interest.

Golbert’s office wants the banking giant to repay the savings lost by Priscilla Eddings, one of Caldwell’s older clients who is now living in a nursing home with dementia.

“I’m pleased that criminal charges have been brought against Caldwell,” Golbert said. ”Hopefully, the criminal charges will prod Citibank into repaying Ms. Eddings the money that their employee stole from her and the other victims.” 

Citibank and Citi Global — the banking and investment arms of Citi for which Caldwell worked as a “dual hat” employee — would not comment Friday.

In court filings, Citi lawyers have said the bank shouldn’t be held financially liable for Caldwell’s actions. 

According to internal government documents, Citi first reported Caldwell to the Adult Protective Services division of the Illinois Department on Aging in March 2022 — four months after Caldwell left her job there.

State officials didn’t take action because the client “was not being exploited by a family member, roommate, or caregiver,” Citi wrote in Cook County probate court documents.

Since publication of the Injustice Watch investigation, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law to exempt the Department on Aging from investigating cases of frauds and criminal activity by strangers. The law shifts the burden of investigating such frauds to the Illinois attorney general’s office.

Several experts said Illinois’ new law, which took effect on Jan. 1, represents a step backward in fighting the growing problem of elder financial exploitation. 

The new law was written “to help certain people in the bureaucracy to do less work, to the detriment of the public,” McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally said. “I don’t see it furthers the interests of any single person that might be victimized by this crime.”

Fraud against older Americans in investment schemes accounted for nearly one-third of $3.1 billion in elder financial exploitation nationwide last year, up from less than 10% just three years ago, according to FBI data. Reported losses from investment scams against older Americans have increased tenfold in the past three years, to nearly $1 billion in 2022.

Full Article & Source:
Former Citi VP in Chicago charged with elder fraud

Man, woman indicted on exploitation of disabled, elder person charges

by Billy Hobbs

 An indictment is an allegation of criminal conduct. All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law beyond reasonable doubt.

A Baldwin County grand jury recently returned a five-count indictment against a local man and woman stemming from reported crimes against a disabled or elder adult.

The indictments were returned earlier this month against defendants Jerry Kenneth Barber and Bobbie Jo Barber, according to court records.

The relationship between the couple, if any, was not immediately known.

The man and woman are each charged with two counts of exploitation and intimidation of a disabled adult, or an elder person or resident, records show. Each is also charged with two counts of neglect to a disabled adult, an elder person or resident, and one count each of false imprisonment.

The case was presented to grand jurors following an extensive investigation by Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bob Butch. 

Each of the crimes reportedly happened on Nov. 28, 2023, in Baldwin County while the victim was being supervised by the defendants.

On the neglect charge, grand jurors accuse the couple of willfully depriving the victim of necessary sustenance to the extent that the health and well-being of the victim was jeopardized, according to the indictment.

Full Article & Source:
Man, woman indicted on exploitation of disabled, elder person charges

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Woman Asks For Help After She's Charged $35 An Hour To Visit Her Elderly Mom In Assisted Living Facility That Costs $8K A Month

by Mary-Faith Martinez

How is this legal?

Caring for elderly family members is never easy. There are so many questions to consider, like what’s really best for the individual, and how accessible are resources.

One woman is discovering just how difficult it is to be there for her elderly mother thanks to some strange financial challenges.

A woman in Ohio shared that she has to pay to see her mother in an assisted living facility.

Las Vegas-based realtor Carrie Meyer recently went to visit her 90-year-old mother in an Ohio assisted living facility with her daughter, Chloe. She was shocked when she arrived at the facility and was asked to pay for her visit.

“$35 an hour,” said Meyer. “That’s what I had to pay to see my 90-year-old mother in an assisted living facility in Ohio.”

As if having to pay for the visit wasn’t bad enough, the facility insisted that Meyer pay before she actually had the visit. “Prepayment was required or I was denied visitation,” she said.

Of course, assisted living facilities aren’t free. Meyer’s mother is already paying to stay there each month. “The estate guardian is charging her $8,000 a month rent,” she explained.

It seems that there is more drama than just the price of the facility and the required prepayment. Meyer stated, “My sister, brother, and I are prohibited from taking her anywhere. She doesn’t want to be there and wants to live with my sister; however, a downstairs bathroom must be added and is not financially doable.”

Full Article and Source:
Woman Asks For Help After She's Charged $35 An Hour To Visit Her Elderly Mom In Assisted Living Facility That Costs $8K A Month

Madison caregiver arrested after hitting client at East Towne Mall

by Kyle Jones 

MADISON, Wis. -- Madison police arrested a man Tuesday night who they said hit an elderly person who was in his care.

Officers were called to East Towne Mall just before 7 p.m. after a group of strangers reported seeing a caregiver hit an elderly client.

After speaking with the witnesses, officers arrested a 52-year-old Madison man. He faces charges of physical abuse of an elder person.

News 3 Now is not naming the man at this time as part of a policy not to name people accused of crimes until they have been formally charged in court.

Full Article & Source:
Madison caregiver arrested after hitting client at East Towne Mall

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Florida Bar: Measure Would Have Courts Prioritize 'Supported Decision Making' When Appointing Guardians for People with Developmental Disabilities

by Jim Ash

Courts would have to consider “supported decision making” before appointing a guardian for people with developmental disabilities under a bipartisan measure that is moving through the Legislature.

The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee voted unanimously January 17 to approve SB 446 by Sen. Corey Simon, R-Tallahassee. Rep. Allison Tant, D-Tallahassee, is sponsoring the companion, HB 73.

“This bill is a great bill, it really restores the rights of those folks with disabilities, giving them a voice as to their needs,” Simon told the committee. “I ask for your favorable support.”

In weighing the appointment of a guardian, a court would be required to consider the person’s “ability to independently exercise his or her rights with appropriate assistance,” according to the bill. The bill defines supportive decision making as “an agreement in which the power of attorney grants an agent the authority to receive information and to communicate on behalf of the principle without granting the agent the authority to bind or act on behalf of the principle in any subject matter.”

The bill makes it clear that a supportive decision-making agreement is “not a durable power of attorney.”

Simon told the committee the bill would also make it easier for people with developmental disabilities to have their rights restored.

“It expands the rights of those seeking restoration of capacity to include whether or not the individual is capable of independently exercising his or her rights, to make those decisions with appropriate assistance,” Simon said.

Simon said another provision would add supportive decision making “to the list of resources provided to students with disabilities aged 18-22, still in school, whose parents want to continue to be involved in their education-making decisions.”

According to a staff analysis, the measure has the potential to “reduce costs to the court system for guardianship and guardian advocate proceedings to the extent that those proceedings are replaced by supported decision-making agreements.”

Disability Rights Florida, ARC, and the Florida Smart Justice Alliance support the bill.

SB 446 cleared Judiciary 9-0 on January 9. It faces one more hearing in Rules before reaching the Senate floor.

HB 73 cleared the Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee 15-0 in November. It faces hearings in the Civil Justice Subcommittee and the Health & Human Services Committee.


Monday, January 22, 2024

A bond between man and dog saved both of their lives at Sparrow Hospital


McKenna was in and out of consciousness, weak, and away from his life alert and phone. It was a nightmare that lasted four days, as he crawled through his home 

A bond between man and dog saved both of their lives at Sparrow Hospital

Elderly Corbin woman calls 911 before allegedly shooting her caretaker

An elderly woman has been arrested after she called to report that she had shot her caretaker.

Elderly Corbin woman calls 911 before allegedly shooting her caretaker


 A West Des Moines woman failed to pay her mother's nursing home bill but was able to withdraw thousands of dollars at a casino with her mother's ATM card, according to police.

Police have charged 64-year-old Pamela Sue Young with dependent adult abuse.

According to court documents, Young was the power of attorney for her mother between July 2022 and December 2022. During that time, Young had access to her mother's checking account and made over $7,000 in withdraws from ATMs and at Prairie Meadows Casino.

Police say Young was not authorized to use the money for her own personal funds or personal gain. Investigators report that she neglected to pay her mother's nursing home bill repeatedly over the course of nine months.

Police: West Des Moines woman neglected to pay mother's nursing home bill

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Senate to Review Assisted Living in Response to Recent Washington Post Articles

by Tim Regan

A committee of the U.S. Senate is slated to hold a hearing soon to study assisted living, a move spurred by a recent Washington Post investigation.

The Post revealed on Jan. 16 that Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, is launching a new review of safety within the assisted living sector in light of the newspaper’s reporting last month. A hearing entitled “Assisted Living Facilities: Understanding Long-Term Care Options for Older Adults,” was also scheduled for Jan. 25.

In a letter to executives of the three largest operators of assisted living in the U.S. – Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD), Atria Senior Living and Sunrise Senior Living – Casey asked for more information on the number of elopements in their communities and how they inform families of other incidents such as falls, injuries and violent interactions with other residents.

Casey also is asking for more information on the costs incurred by residents and their families in light of a recent New York Times investigation on the high cost of assisted living.

Casey told the Post that he was focused on “a set of cascading crises” related to staffing, oversight, how operators inform families and quality of care.

“It’s terribly disturbing,” Casey told the Washington Post. “It’s a basic violation of trust when you’re making assertions about a service you’re providing and you’re not providing that.”

In December, the Post found that nearly 100 senior living residents have died after wandering away from their assisted living and memory care communities since 2018. The investigation also detailed chronic understaffing in senior living communities.

Full Article and Source:
Senate to Review Assisted Living in Response to Recent Washington Post Articles


by Teresa Roca

AMERICAN Pickers star Frank Fritz’s judge has made a major ruling in his request to seal health and financial records in his conservatorship case following his stroke.
Frank, 60, suffered a stroke in July 2022 and has been under conservatorship and guardianship since August of that same year.

The U.S. Sun previously reported a Notice of Delinquency for Conservatorships was filed on December 1, 2023 after guardian Chris Davis and/or Conservator Midwest One Bank failed to file an annual report that was due on November 12, 2023.

The American Pickers alum's conservator and guardian requested for the annual report to be sealed on January 17.

Now, The U.S. Sun can exclusively reveal an Iowa judge approved the request, and the annual report and related documents are to be filed at “security level three.”

In the Joint Motion to File Under Seal previously obtained by The U.S. Sun, Guardian Chris claimed an annual report for Frank's health and welfare has been completed.

Full Article and Source:
American Pickers star Frank Fritz’s judge makes major ruling in demand to seal health & financial records after stroke