Saturday, July 13, 2024

Macomb County Woman Pleads No Contest to 18 Felony Counts for Stealing from Vulnerable Adults

LANSING – Yesterday, Lisa Ludy, 54, of Macomb, pled no contest, as charged, to 18 felony counts for stealing from two vulnerable adults for whom she was appointed guardian and conservator, announced Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. With her plea, Ludy agreed to pay $187,827.96 in restitution to her victims. 

Ludy pled no contest to the following charges:

  • Two counts of Conducting a Criminal Enterprise, punishable by 20 years and/or $100,000; 
  • One count of Embezzlement - $50,000 to $100,000, a 15-year felony;
  • One count of Embezzlement - $20,000 to $50,0000, a 10-year felony; 
  • Two counts of Embezzlement - $1,000 to $20,000, 5-year felonies;  
  • One count of Embezzlement From a Vulnerable Adult - $1,000 or More But Less Than $20,000, punishable by 5 years and/or $10,000;  
  • Four counts of Failure to File Tax Return, 5-year felonies;  
  • Six counts of Financial Transaction Device-Stealing/Retaining Without Consent, punishable by 4 years and/or $5,000; and
  • One count of Witness-Bribing/Intimidating/Interfering, punishable by 4 years and/or $5,000.

In 2016, Ludy petitioned to have her company, Community Guardian Care, Inc., appointed as a guardian and conservator for one of two victims. Upon the appointment as guardian and conservator, Ludy used her position and company to steal over $100,000 from the victim, which she used to pay personal bills and funnel money to her family’s companies, Career Health Studies, Career Health Training Corporation, and Applewood Adult Foster Care Home. Ludy also intentionally concealed the money she took from the victim and failed to file income taxes from 2016 through 2019.  

After Ludy was initially charged in 2022, a second victim reported that Ludy would not return his money. Ludy faced additional charges for stealing his Social Security income from his bank account by using his debit card to make numerous purchases and withdrawals from the account after she had already been removed as the victim’s guardian. Ludy also interfered with the victim and attempted to prevent and/or obstruct him from pressing charges and testifying in court against her.  

As a condition of the plea agreement, Ludy agreed to pay total restitution of $187,827.96 to the victims. Additionally, Ludy paid $7,000 in restitution at the plea to the victims. If Ludy pays an additional $10,000 in restitution by her sentencing date, the People agreed that she can be sentenced to a minimum sentence of 36 months’ incarceration concurrently on all charges. However, if she fails to pay the $10,000 in restitution by the sentencing date, Ludy agreed to be sentenced on all counts within the sentencing guidelines. 

“This plea secures meaningful restitution and justice for the vulnerable adults who were betrayed and exploited by the very person appointed to protect them,” Nessel said. “My department will continue to pursue accountability for court-appointed guardians and conservators who take advantage of the trust placed in them, and any who seek to enrich themselves by robbing our most vulnerable residents.” 

Ludy is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 8, 2025, before Judge Julie Gatti in the 16th Judicial Circuit Court in Macomb County.

Macomb County Woman Pleads No Contest to 18 Felony Counts for Stealing from Vulnerable Adults

When financial fraud becomes elder abuse

by Rabihah Butler

Elder abuse is more than physical violence or depriving of necessities, and in some severe cases, it is an attack on the mental and financial well-being of elderly people that can lead to the loss of savings or a broken heart

Elderly Americans, those 60 years old and above, are generally considered to be a vulnerable class — and with age comes concerns about physical health, mental agility, and overall security. While it is important to look out for the physical safety of the potential victim when looking at elder abuse, financial abuse often can be just as harmful.

Traditional elder financial abuse would likely come in the form of a close acquaintance taking advantage of their relationship with the victim to take possession of their property or money. This abuse could include manipulation to get expensive jewelry or convincing a vulnerable person to disclose bank codes allowing the illicit actor to drain the victim’s accounts.

While these are crimes, of course, they are much easier to catch and protect against than other types of financial fraud. In fact, bank employees are now encouraged to look for the signs of this type of manipulation and actively take steps to prevent it. However, less traditional financial abuse is becoming more concerning.

With theft by fraud skyrocketing — losses jumped to more than $10 billion in 2023, from $2.4 billion in 2019 — the rapid rate of is growth should put people (especially those in more vulnerable situations, like the elderly) into a more defensive and skeptical position. Indeed, elderly individuals are disproportionally vulnerable to this more complex and harder to detect type of theft.

In its 2023 report, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) indicated that individuals under the age of 20 were the demographic least impacted by scams and fraud with only 18,000 reported victims, while those 60 years old and older saw more than 101,000 reported victims.

Understanding the root cause of elder fraud

Yet, to more fully understand the problem that some elders are facing you must first look at the root. Desperation and greed are among the reasons scammers have ramped up the use of schemes that will get money quickly from elderly victims. Scammers also look for options that have the lowest risk, so when considering crimes, they see elderly individuals as prime targets for several reasons, including:

      • They assume that elderly individuals are the most likely to have disposable income or savings. While younger individuals are beginning their careers and are just starting to earn money, elderly individuals have had time to amass savings and often have disposable income available for use and investment.
      • Elderly people are often less knowledgeable about the complexities of technology, including newer ways of investing. This lack of understanding around recently developed technology platforms making it easier to manipulate the victim. This would include venues like dating apps or digital currency platforms.
      • The older the population gets, the more likely they are to be retired, widowed, or lonely. Often, this leads to elderly individuals seeking companionship or friendship; and sometimes, looking for those connections online can open up a whole different world of (unverified and anonymous) people with whom to connect.
      • Elderly people also tend to adhere to more conservative beliefs, keeping finances to themselves and not asking for help. So, during manipulation and even after a financial loss, elderly victims are often left in a situation in which they are less likely to speak about it. This makes reporting, prevention, and tracking more difficult.

This spring, several government agencies — including the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and the AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) — all took notice of the situation and issued warnings or guidance on the increases in elder financial crime, a stark reminder of this widespread problem.

In fact, FinCEN found that between June 2022 and June 2023, it had received 155,415 Elder Financial Exploitation (EFE)-related Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) reports associated with more than $27 billion in reported suspicious activity, which may include both actual and attempted transactions. It is important to note that this is only the number that was reported and does not account for instances in which individuals did not catch on to the fact they were the victim of a scam or instances in which the loss was not reported for other reasons. Further, an AARP report says that more than 40% of Americans (an estimated 141.5 million adults) say they have lost money to scams or had sensitive information obtained and used fraudulently.

While it is easy to count how much money is lost, it’s not as easy to count the number of individuals who suffer from depression or even suicidal attempts as a result of being scammed.

Elders are now facing many complex scams that are aimed at taking advantage of them in more significant ways. In 2023, the Top 5 scams reported to the IC3 were: tech support scams, personal data breaches, romance and confidence scams, product scams (non-payment or non-delivery), and investment scams. IC3 reports that the losses to investment scams alone totaled more than$1 billion in 2023.

And there is another factor that most people don’t even consider in the aftermath of a tremendous financial loss. While it is easy to count how much money is lost, it’s not as easy to count the number of individuals who suffer from depression or even suicidal attempts as a result of being scammed. For example, a 74-year-old retired teacher in Tennessee who was scammed for nearly $100,000 ultimately took his life as a result. In this case, the scammers were caught, but it highlights how these crimes need to be taken seriously.

Eva Velasquez, a former investigator for the San Diego District Attorney’s Office and who now serves as president and CEO of the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center, said the organization’s most recent study noted a sharp increase in the number of fraud victims who reported having thoughts of suicide after being conned.

What is clear is that it is important to educate elderly Americans on the use of technology and the reg flags they will inevitably come across, especially online. It is also important to continue to report and track these elderly financial abuse scams in order to try to prevent them in the future.

Full Article & Source:
When financial fraud becomes elder abuse

Friday, July 12, 2024

Lee County Auburn man turns himself in on financial exploitation of elderly charge

by: Nicole Sanders

— An Auburn man turned himself into the Lee County Sheriff’s Office after he allegedly deceived a 60-year-old Alabama resident out of over $200,000, according to the Lee County District Attorney and Alabama Securities Commission.

James Clayton Langford III, 50, was taken into custody on Tuesday following his indictment of aggravated theft by deception and first-degree financial exploitation of the elderly. These charges can carry a sentence ranging from two to 20 years.

The indictment says Langford was a trustee on an investment account for the victim. According to that indictment, Langford allegedly obtained over $200,000 from the account, then used the money for personal use.

The first count alleges Langford obtained the money through deception. The second count alleges Langford also used deception, intimidation, force and other measures to gain control over the victim’s property.

According to a news release, Langford was out on bond as of Wednesday.

The ASC advices the public to research any investment opportunities. You can call the commission at 1-800-222-1553.

Full Article & Source:
Lee County Auburn man turns himself in on financial exploitation of elderly charge

Bill removing statute of limitations of elderly abuse, exploitation makes voting file

GUAM—With the support of his legislative colleagues, Democrat Senator Dwayne T.D. San Nicolas successfully moved Bill No. 243-37 (COR) onto the third reading file during regular session on July 2 at the Guam Congress Building in Hagåtña.

Bill 243-37 will remove the statute of limitations for financial and property exploitation of an elderly person or individual with disability, should it pass into local law. According to the National Council on Aging, up to five million older Americans are abused every year, and the annual loss by victims of financial abuse is estimated to be at least $36.5 billion. The council also states that in about 60% of elderly abuse incidents, the perpetrator is a family member, usually the spouse or the children of the victim.

“The number of exploited elderly is astounding and justifies the creation of legislation to combat this issue,” said San Nicolas, author of Bill 243-37, a first of its kind in the nation. “All of these findings by the National Council on Aging are alarming, something which our manåmko’ and persons with disabilities need to be protected from by putting the law on their side. Financial exploitation of our manåmko’ and individuals with disabilities is a heinous crime that should not have a statute of limitations.”

If enacted into Guam law, this legislation will remove the statute of limitations in cases of elderly and disabled individuals’ financial exploitation and abuse. With this legislative measure, elderly and individuals with disabilities, victims of financial exploitation and abuse, will be able to pursue justice without the added worry of a deadline to file a lawsuit.

“As a government entity that serves the people, the Guam Legislature needs to enact legislation that would protect and help the manamko’ and people with disabilities find justice in incidents of financial exploitation and abuse,” he said.

Moreover, Guam Attorney General Douglas Moylan endorsed the bill during its public hearing on April 1.

“It’s about time,” said Moylan at the April 1 public hearing. “In our court system, there are too many of our manåmko’ that are being found out in guardianship cases and in probate cases that their lifetime savings have been taken from them, especially from their own family members that are ‘caregivers’. As we age everybody’s memories through the natural process become not as sharp as they used to be. I applaud the sponsor of the bill, Senator San Nicolas, for taking up this challenge. Our code is in need of protection right now. Our manåmko’ are in need of protection out there. They need to have the tools to do that. We, the AG’s office, fully endorse it.”

This shall become effective upon enactment. (PR)

Full Article & Source:
Bill removing statute of limitations of elderly abuse, exploitation makes voting file

Wabasha woman sentenced for embezzling over $3 million

by Mike Bunge

WABASHA, Minn. – A southeast Minnesota woman is sentenced for embezzling over $3 million from her employer.

Sharon Ann Schmalzriedt, 62 of Wabasha, was charged with felony theft and financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.  She pleaded guilty to the theft charge and the other was dismissed as part of a plea deal.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says Schmalzriedt began an online affair in October 2019 with an individual identified as “Erik Lockwood.”  Investigators say “Lockwood” told Schmalzriedt he was owed $7 million for work “Lockwood” did in Dubai but needed to borrow United States currency in order to get that money.

According to court documents, Schmalzriedt began sending “Lockwood” her own money, then began stealing money for him from the Lewiston-based business Schmalzriedt worked for as a bookkeeper.  Agents say Schmalzriedt also stole money from a vulnerable adult she was financially responsible for and sent it to “Lockwood.”

Investigators say Schmalzriedt embezzled $3,751,337.06 from the business and $17,150 from the vulnerable adult.

Schmalzriedt has now been sentenced to five years of supervised probation and 1,000 hours of community work service.  She has also been ordered to repay the money stolen from the business.

Full Article & Source:
Wabasha woman sentenced for embezzling over $3 million

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Study Links Credit Scores and Alzheimer’s Disease in Seniors

Missing numerous bill payments can damage a person’s credit score. But they could also signal a much bigger problem: damage to the brain from Alzheimer’s disease.

Families often miss the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s in a loved one. Symptoms may not start to show until the disease has progressed to later stages, at which point early intervention treatments are less effective and the financial consequences can be greater.

But a new study suggests that, for older adults, a credit score decline could signal cognitive decline. It adds to a growing body of research that links money problems to dementia.

Catching Alzheimer’s early is crucial from the standpoint of mental capacity, elder care, and estate planning.

Financial Deficits Mirror Memory Deficits in New Study

Credit scores start to go down and payment delinquencies start to go up in the years preceding a memory disorder diagnosis, according to new research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Led by Georgetown University and supported by the National Institute on Aging, the study (“The Financial Consequences of Undiagnosed Memory Disorders”) found that, in the period leading up to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD), credit outcomes noticeably deteriorate.

The researchers looked at credit card and mortgage payment histories from Equifax merged with Medicare data. Among patients diagnosed with ADRD, an increase in missed credit card payments began more than five years prior to diagnosis, while mortgage delinquency started three years prior.

Lead researcher Carole Roan Gresenz called the results “striking in their clarity and consistency.”

“Credit scores consistently decline, quarter by quarter, and probability of delinquency consistently increases as diagnosis approaches,” said Gresenz. “Our findings substantiate the possible utility of credit reporting data for facilitating early identification of those at risk for memory disorders.”

Finances Can Help to Catch Alzheimer’s Before It’s Too Late

It is becoming increasingly clear that financial missteps like missing routine bill payments could be an early predictor of Alzheimer’s that helps to detect the disease before major memory problems are apparent.

Georgetown’s Gresenz published research in 2019 that similarly showed compromised decision-making in money management can predict an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

“Significant limitations and rapid declines in financial capacity are a hallmark of patients with early-stage Alzheimer's disease,” the abstract for that paper states.

In 2020, Johns Hopkins researchers released a study that discovered Medicare recipients later diagnosed with dementia are more likely to miss bill payments up to six years before a clinical diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s affects an estimated 6 million Americans, most of them age 65 or older. It remains the top cause of dementia in older adults and the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

The results can be devastating as the disease progressively destroys memory and functional skills. But its exact cause is unknown, and diagnosis is notoriously challenging in the initial stages.

Money matters may be a leading indicator of Alzheimer’s because financial management is cognitively challenging, a specialist in geriatrics and memory care at UPenn told KFF Health News.

Even mild cognitive impairment can lead to financial issues when there are generally no other signs that a person is developing Alzheimer’s. In fact, financial problems are a common reason why loved ones are initially screened for dementia.

But by then, it might already be too late to avoid major money mistakes. For example, one Pennsylvania Alzheimer’s sufferer had her home foreclosed on due to missed mortgage payments. Her daughter only realized how bad her mother’s memory had gotten when she noticed abnormalities such as unpaid bills and strange cash withdrawals.

Unopened and unpaid bills, money missing from a bank account, difficulty balancing accounts, and new, unexpected purchases are some of the money-related signs that should be monitored in people who have dementia or may be developing Alzheimer’s, according to the National Institute on Aging.

Missed payments could be a sign that an older adult is developing Alzheimer’s. Stay on top of their credit reports and reach out to a local elder law attorney if you need legal advice about how to protect them.

The Importance of Early Alzheimer’s Detection

Many Alzheimer’s cases are not caught until they’re in the middle and late stages. But early detection, which may be easier if family members are paying close attention to an aging loved one’s bank statements and financial records, can help to stave off the worst consequences, both physical and financial, of the disease.

Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's, there are FDA-approved drugs that can help to slow its progression and lessen symptoms. However, these therapies work best when the disease is in its earliest stages, before permanent brain damage has occurred.

Early detection is also important for families caring for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease. It can help to set realistic expectations, plan together, and avoid potentially costly financial mistakes.

Georgetown researcher Gresenz notes in her 2019 paper that financial miscues during early-stage Alzheimer’s can reduce a patient’s net wealth. This can impact the ability to pay for care in the disease’s later stages.

One reason why Alzheimer’s may be linked to lower net wealth is financial exploitation. Cognitive changes associated with early-stage dementia has been shown to not only make individuals more susceptible to compromised financial decision-making on their own, but also make them more vulnerable to financial abuse and fraud.

Work With an Attorney

Estate planning for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia should include preparing for their long-term care and health needs, arranging to manage their finances and property, and naming another person to make financial decisions on their behalf using a power of attorney.

But executing estate planning documents requires having the mental capacity to do so. And if somebody has Alzheimer’s, they may lack the ability to give their consent. That’s why it’s crucial to have these documents in place before they’re needed — especially in cases where Alzheimer’s has been diagnosed or is suspected.

Many older adults living with early-stage Alzheimer’s still have the legal capacity to make their own decisions, but this might require a third-party assessment and attorney assistance.

Full Article & Source:
Study Links Credit Scores and Alzheimer’s Disease in Seniors

Hogan Legislation to Protect Seniors Passes House

HARRISBURG – Rep. Joe Hogan (Bucks) today announced his legislation to increase protections for seniors from financial exploitation passed the House by a strong bipartisan vote. 

House Bill 2064 authorizes the mandatory reporting and disclosure of essential records to state investigators. Additionally, financial institutions and fiduciaries would be able to temporarily delay transactions linked to suspected financial exploitation and engage in judicial proceedings to protect older adults.

House Bill 2064 would also authorize the sharing of information and records between financial institutions, fiduciaries and area agencies on aging. Like other voluntary reporters to protective services, financial institutions and fiduciaries would be immune from civil or criminal liability when exercising their discretion to report, share records, provide information to area agencies on aging and temporarily delay financial transactions.

“This is great news for older Pennsylvanians,” said Hogan. “When I held a hearing on the increase of scams and fraud in March of this year, we learned tens of thousands of dollars are lost every week in Bucks County to these types of criminal acts. This kind of legislation has been discussed for over a decade in Harrisburg but with no movement. I’m glad we were able to get this done and hopefully to the governor’s desk. Seniors hard-earned money is at stake.” 

House Bill 2064 now heads to the Senate for concurrence.  

Representative Joe Hogan
142nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Full Article & Source:
Hogan Legislation to Protect Seniors Passes House

Oklahoma’s elderly has lost more than $19M to fraud, research says

Story by Caroline Sellers

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma’s elderly lost millions of dollars to fraud in 2022, according to research.

Cybersecurity experts at VPNPro studied data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Trade Commission to see how many people fell victim to fraud in 2022. The data was studied based on how many victims were 60 years or older as part of each state’s elderly population.

Officials say Oklahoma had a total of 790 elderly fraud victims, averaging 87.3 victims per 100,000 elderly residents. For this age group, the state reported a loss of $19,455,718, which comes out to $24,627 lost per victim.

According to VPNPro, the scam that cost elderly victims the most money were investment scams with a loss of $404 million in 2022. The second was business fraud with $271 million lost and the third were romance scams with a loss of $240 million.

Those 60 and older are more likely to be scammed online than any other method. Older fraud victims lost a total of $564 million online compared to text, which was $90 million.

Ways elderly residents can fall victim to fraud:

  • Online shopping
  • Business imposters
  • Tech support scam
  • Government imposters
  • Investment scams
  • Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries
  • Romance scams
  • Family and friendly imposters
  • Fake check scams
  • Vacation and travel

“Analyzing data on elderly fraud victims and losses by state can help policymakers, law enforcement agencies, and advocacy groups better understand the underlying factors contributing to financial exploitation of the elderly. It can also inform targeted interventions and resource allocation to mitigate the impact of fraud and protect vulnerable individuals.” said Sarunas Karbauskas, Technical Writer at VPNPro. “Examining which states have lost the most due to elderly fraud can shed light on the economic impact of such activities and potentially reveal areas where financial education and support are lacking.” 

Full Article & Source:
Oklahoma’s elderly has lost more than $19M to fraud, research says

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

‘It comes for your very soul’: how Alzheimer’s undid my dazzling, creative wife in her 40s

Vanessa Aylwin in 2021.  Photograph:  Courtesy of Michael Aylwin

By the time my wife got a diagnosis, her long and harrowing deterioration had already begun. By the end, I was in awe of her

By Michael Aylwin

My wife always said she would die of Alzheimer’s. It turns out she was right about that. For years, I insisted she would not. In the end, Vanessa clinched our little argument by dying last September, but we had known her fate since 2019, the year she was diagnosed, at the age of 49. For at least three years before that, though, the realisation dawned by hideous degrees which way the debate was going.

When we met, in the mid-00s, the proposition that Vanessa did not have Alzheimer’s, nor was about to develop it, was an easy motion to defend. She was dazzling and creative, with a successful career as a marketing executive. In that context, her preoccupation with this old person’s disease came across as a little absurd.

We met on the dancefloor of a nightclub in 2004. I was 32, she was about to turn 35. Far too old for a place like that, but we were reliving former glories in honour of mutual friends – a last glance back at our careless youth. When the management turned us out after a long night of carousing into the next stage of our lives, Vanessa scribbled her number for me on a piece of paper. How she would have loved to be able to do that only 15 years later.

A few weeks into our relationship, she told me that her mum, in her 50s, was dying of Alzheimer’s and, a little later again, that she was sure to do the same. I put her fears down to general fatalism, and spent much of the following decade insisting she had nothing to worry about. Until I could no longer find plausible grounds to argue that everything was fine.

A common question is: when did the disease start? There is no neat answer. It’s possible Vanessa could feel it coming on long before any of her symptoms showed. To the outside world, though, Alzheimer’s reveals itself by subtle degrees, each one plausibly dismissed in the early stages as “nothing”. And even when they start to become obviously “something”, there is usually a range of alternative explanations. The twisted genius of this disease begins with the way it smuggles itself in under the cover of other conditions. Absent-mindedness, ageing, menopause, through depression, anxiety and epilepsy – all would be presented as perfectly plausible explanations, first by me, then by some serious experts in their field. In retrospect, though, it began with a zit on her chin.  (Click to Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
‘It comes for your very soul’: how Alzheimer’s undid my dazzling, creative wife in her 40s

A summer correlation, fireflies and the MDS

by Joel VanEaton

This time of year, I love to sit on my back porch and watch the fireflies dance in the twilight. Something from my childhood, I suppose. 

This year they seem particularly bright. Almost like fireworks in the trees every night. It’s spectacular. I’m thankful and nostalgic for these things. 

There are about 2,000 firefly species. Did you know that each species has its own unique flashing pattern for communication? They remind me of the MDS, with its multifaceted impact. 

The MDS is completed as part of what is known as the Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) process. It’s essentially the Nursing process that we nurses learned in school, and it has five basic parts, as shown in the acronym ADPIE. 

ADPIE according to the RAI

1. Assess: “Taking stock of all observations, information and knowledge about a resident from all available sources (e.g. medical records, the resident, resident’s family, and/or guardian or other legally authorized representative).”

That’s the MDS. Along with other assessments, the MDS forms the foundation of the  RAI process

2. Decision Making/Diagnose: “Determining with the resident (resident’s family and/or guardian or other legally authorized representative), the resident’s physician and the interdisciplinary team, the severity, functional impact, and scope of a resident’s clinical issues and needs.”

That’s the Care Area Assessment or CAA process. Those who work the CAA process correctly are like artists painting a unique, colorfully dimensional picture of the resident.

3. Plan: “Establishing a course of action with input from the resident (resident’s family and/or guardian or other legally authorized representative), resident’s physician and interdisciplinary team that moves a resident toward resident-specific goals utilizing individual resident strengths and interdisciplinary expertise; crafting the “how” of resident care.”

That’s the care plan. The care plan is more than a surveyor placatory document. Rather, it is a unique and resident-centric roadmap. 

4. Implement: “Putting that course of action (specific interventions derived through interdisciplinary individualized care planning) into motion by staff knowledgeable about the resident’s care goals and approaches; carrying out the “how” and “when” of resident care.”

This is the care teams’ actualizing the RAI process for the well-being of the resident.

5. Evaluate: “Critically reviewing individualized care plan goals, interventions and implementation in terms of achieved resident outcomes as identified and assessing the need to modify the care plan (i.e. change interventions) to adjust to changes in the resident’s status, goals or improvement or decline.”

That’s the MDS schedule of assessments, along with monitoring the resident’s changing condition on a daily basis.

In these ways, the RAI process is a “richly practical means of helping nursing home staff gather and analyze information in order to improve a resident’s quality of care and quality of life.”

“The key to successfully using the RAI process is to understand that its structure is designed to enhance resident care, increase a resident’s active participation in care, and promote the quality of a resident’s life.”

In retrospect

While it didn’t seem to be at first, I remember as a new MDS coordinator discovering that the job I had been hired to do was what I went to school to learn. This discovery came as a result of reading the RAI Manual. 

Like the unique messaging that firefly species use to communicate, the RAI process identifies the individual characteristics of each resident that are further analyzed to create a resident-centric plan for care success to improve a resident’s quality of care, quality of life, and goal attainment.

Once I recognized the value of the RAI process, I remember having a greater sense that I was, in fact, practicing nursing as an MDS coordinator. 

That realization gave me great satisfaction, knowing that even in a less traditional nursing role I could still have a significant impact on the quality a resident could experience being cared for in my nursing facility.

We’re all in this together

While MDS coordinator often guides the RAI process, it is important to remember that this is a team project. It is an interdisciplinary problem-solving model that results in all team members being involved in a hands-on approach.

Each member of the IDT, with their distinct attributes and assessments of the resident, contributes to the “richly practical” RIA process.

When the RAI process is approached in these ways, there are significant positive outcomes for the resident and the caregiving team.

1. Residents respond to individualized care and “… have experienced goal achievement and either their level of functioning has improved or has deteriorated at a slower rate.”

2. Staff communication has become more effective resulting in an enhancement of the commitment to and the understanding of that care plan, challenging staff to hone the professional skills of their discipline as well as focus on the individuality of the resident.

3. Resident and family involvement in care has increased. “Staff members have a much better picture of the resident, and residents and families have a better understanding of the goals and processes of care.”

It’s good to remember

I often think about the road my career has taken. In one of my first clinical placements in nursing school I remember seeing the MDS for the first time and thinking to myself defiantly, “I’ll never do that!

I started out as an RN in an ICU step-down unit, planning to ride the adrenaline rush of advanced practice in the ER. That all changed when an MDS opportunity came my way unexpectedly and I took it, ostensibly as a temporary break from the grind of nights, weekends and holidays. 

Looking back, I recognize my skill set was more finely tuned to what I do now, and I’m thankful for the turn of events. I am still in love with the bedside and the clinical aspect of nursing; that’s why I went to school. But the MDS path rewarded me with an opportunity I was not anticipating.  

A correlation of thankfulness

Here on the backside of my 23rd year doing this, I can’t help but think about how things might have been had I not taken this nursing road less traveled, and I am hard-pressed to imagine a more satisfying development.

If fireflies are a metaphor for the RAI process, they also remind me of how grateful I am for being introduced to the MDS all those years ago.  The country hit “Flies on the Butter” captures it this way:

“Me and my best friend Jenny set up a backyard camp

Stole one of Mama’s mason jars

Poked holes in the lid and made a firefly lamp”

If you’re an MDS coordinator, you are exceptional. The lamp you create every day through the RAI process you participate in and oversee is key to your residents’ quality experience. Don’t forget that.  

Your residents are thankful for your firefly lamp, I hope you are too. 

Full Article & Source:
A summer correlation, fireflies and the MDS

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Elderly abuse suspects took pictures of dead patients and 'played in pubic hair'

Story by Fionnuala Boyle

Three care home employees have been charged with the sexual exploitation of elderly residents. An inquiry by Guthrie Police Department kicked off in April when an ex-staffer blew the whistle on their colleagues' behaviour.

Jade Williams, 21, Aubrey Granata, 21, and McKenzie Bolfa, 21, have been slapped with serious charges of elder abuse at Golden Age Nursing Home in Oklahoma. Don Sweger, Guthrie's top cop, told KFOR-TV: "Some employees were involved in sending inappropriate pictures of their patients. We found pictures of some deceased person.

"We found some pictures of the suspects playing in pubic hair."

The charge sheet accuses the women of pinging Snapchats amongst themselves, including one grim video of an elderly man on his bed, clad only in a shirt and nappy, surrounded by his own mess.  

Another clip showed a chap naked from the waist down. Even more appalling, snaps were found showing the deceased being ridiculed post-mortem by these workers.

"It's probably one of the saddest things," Sweger said during the sit-down video interview. "We take service to everybody very responsibly, but especially for those who don't have a voice for themselves."

In response to the allegations, Golden Age director Tandie Hastings released a statement: "Golden Age Nursing Home endeavors to ensure the safety and well-being of its residents.

"Upon receiving information related to certain allegations against its employees, the facility began working with local law enforcement and other appropriate authorities to respond.

"The employees involved had cleared background checks, were educated related to resident's rights/safety and have been terminated from employment. We are committed to protecting the privacy and safety of the residents and families involved and will continue to keep them updated with any developments related to this matter."

On June 24, Williams, Granata, and Bolfa were charged with counts of conspiracy and elder abuse. Records indicate that Williams is still in custody awaiting bond.

Full Article & Source:
Elderly abuse suspects took pictures of dead patients and 'played in pubic hair'

$3.7 Million in Restitution Ordered in SE MN ‘Romance Scam’ Case

Wabasha, MN (KROC-AM News) - Restitution has been set at more than $3.7 million in the case of a southeastern Minnesota woman who bankrupted her employer by stealing the funds to meet the demands of a so-called "romance scammer."

61-year-old Sharon Ann Schmalzreidt was sentenced this week for her conviction on a felony theft charge. The Wabasha woman earlier entered a guilty plea to the charge through a plea agreement that led to the dismissal of a felony count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

According to the criminal complaint in the case, Schmalziedt began an online relationship with a man she knew as Erik Lockwood. She told investigators the man told her he needed money in order to access $7 million he was owed for work that he had performed in Dubai, and that he would pay her back. 

The court document says Schmalzeidt admitted sending the scammer money she stole from her employer after she had given him all of her own funds. The evidence listed in the case included a review of her cell phone that showed that she was aware she was stealing from her employer and that her actions drove the unnamed company into bankruptcy.

The charges stated she worked as the bookkeeper for a business based in Lewiston. The thefts began in October 2019 and continued through last March, when she was fired.

The criminal complaint says the owner of the firm hired a Chief Financial Officer from an outside firm after noticing multiple large transfers of funds to organizations that were not associated with the business and had the same bank account numbers.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension then join the investigation. It determined the company's losses from the thefts totaled more than $3.7 million. 

It was also alleged that Schmalzriedt stole more than $17,000 from a vulnerable adult in her care. The charges stated that the stolen funds had been set aside to pay the victims nursing home bills.

For her conviction, Schmalzeidt was given a stayed 21 month prison sentence and was placed on probation for five years. The prison sentence could be enforced if she fails to meet the terms of her probation.

Full Article & Source:
$3.7 Million in Restitution Ordered in SE MN ‘Romance Scam’ Case

Monday, July 8, 2024

Where's Maynard

 Maynard Orme

Maynard Orme was CEO of Oregon Public Broadcasting for decades. Now 87, he is under the control of a guardian and his own lawyer colluding to siphon his funds and keep him from seeing his family and friends.”


In January Maynard Orme decided to travel to California to be cared for by his daughter; to escape exploitation and neglect from a guardianship gone bad. But, on the orders of Clackamas County Judge Michael Wetzel, Maynard was removed without his family’s knowledge and returned to Oregon.

His own lawyer and his court appointed guardian are now continuing to enable the abuse of this elder by ordering that none of his family or friends are allowed to talk to him or visit with him.

The assisted living facility in Lake Oswego has a three-ring binder of people who are refused access to Maynard. The list is extensive and cruel … his daughters and his trustees, every one of his regular lunch buddies, his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend, his grandkids and sons-in-law, former colleagues, former doctors, former caregivers, and even two retired FBI agent friends of his daughter – are all called out by name to be excluded from seeing Maynard.

Who the hell gave them authority for solitary confinement?

The only people now able to contact Maynard are a cabal of professional ladies, enabled by the Judge Michael Wetzel, who have no interest in Maynard other than the income they can extract.

Audrey Ward is the court appointed Guardian and Conservator who ignored his health and trashed his finances. Her Schwabe lawyer, Jesse Minger, appears to be retained simply to bully Maynard’s family to give up on him. His girlfriend, Diane Mitchell, was never vetted as a caretaker and previously neglected his health so badly he almost died. And the queen of them all, his own lawyer Kathryn Bourn, appointed to look after Maynard’s personal interests, is colluding with all these financial parasites to decree that he may not be contacted by his friends, his daughters, or his trustees.

All of these ladies are being paid from Maynard’s funds to act against his interests and against his wishes expressed in his Living Trust, that his daughters look after him and his affairs.

Judge forces incompetent man to testify and attorneys stand silent.

Last year, Judge Wetzel signed an order making Maynard incompetent but still pushed Maynard to re-appoint Ms. Bourn who Maynard had previously fired with complaints to the Oregon Bar. All the lawyers in that courtroom had a fiduciary duty to Maynard but all stood silently by and let this happen.

I hope that Judge Wetzel is not himself involved in this Clackamas County collusion and corruption, but all of this is certainly taking place on his watch and on his orders. He has clearly ignored the clear moral imperative to follow Maynard’s wishes and has sold him down the river into this county fiduciary racket.

I wish I could paint a more optimistic picture.

The professionals have failed to protect Maynard and are now only interested in protecting themselves and their billable hours.

Now all we know is that Maynard is in assisted living and the only contact allowed is from a prior abuser, a failed conservator and her lawyer, and another lawyer he fired.

Full Article & Source:
Where's Maynard

Jacksonville man runs into burning home to rescue elderly woman

New video given to Action News Jax shows an Arlington home on fire, flames and thick black smoke could be seen coming out of the home. Two people are now without their home because of it, and one was rescued by a neighbor.

Jacksonville man runs into burning home to rescue elderly woman

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Stark County worker accused of stealing $550K, two cars from great aunt

by Robert Wang

A Stark County Auditor's Office supervisor who oversees the testing of gas pumps and supermarket scales is accused of stealing more than $550,000 and two vehicles from his great aunt.

Nicholas J. Owens, 44, of North Canton, who works in the county Auditor's Office, is charged with theft from a person in a protected class, securing writings by deception, misuse of credit cards and two counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle, all felonies.

He was taken into custody Tuesday by the North Canton Police Department and spent Wednesday and the Fourth of July holiday in the Stark County Jail.

He made an initial appearance in Canton Municipal Court on Friday.

According to court records, Owens waived his right to a preliminary hearing. So, Canton Municipal Judge Kristin Guardado bound the case over to a Stark County grand jury for its consideration.

Owens' wife posted 10% of his $100,000 bond, so Owens could be released from jail under supervision of the pre-trial release program. The judge ordered he have no contact with his great aunt.

What is Nicholas Owens accused of?

According to criminal complaints filed by a North Canton police detective and a police report said that Owens' great aunt lives in an assisted living facility a few miles outside North Canton. She has dementia and Alzheimer's disease and had given Owens financial power of attorney over her assets. The complaints said that the great aunt is "unable to competently make decisions on her own."

His attorney Julie Jakmides said at the hearing Friday that Owens doesn't have power of attorney, but he does have at least one joint financial account with her.

Owens' other attorney, Jakmides' father, Jeff Jakmides said before Friday's hearing that his client would plead not guilty. And he asked the public to respect the presumption that his client is innocent.

One complaint accuses Owens of stealing about $550,000 from the woman.

"The defendant used the funds outside of the scope granted in the Power of Attorney, and not in a manner consistent with the principal's best interest," said complaint, which did not specify what Owens purchased with the money.

Another complaint said that Owens, while "deceiving his great aunt" transferred $3,000 from his great aunt's account to his own account. Then, Owens allegedly wrote a check in the amount of $3,000 from that account apparently in payment to buy a 2010 Toyota Camry from his great aunt.

Two complaints said that Owens drafted a document taking ownership of his great aunt's 1965 Ford Mustang, a car, police said, whose national average value is $42,500.

Police said Owens used his great aunt's credit card "for his own personal gain" outside the scope granted in the power of attorney during a 90-day period in amounts totaling at least $7,500 and less than $150,000.

The complaints said these acts took place from Sept. 1, 2020 to June 10, 2024.

On May 22, a great-niece and niece of the elderly woman reported to North Canton police that the woman's total Chase Bank account balances had declined from $215,733 in 2020 to $40,116 on April 30, according to a police report. The niece, who had obtained access to her aunt's bank statements, said they showed unusually large amounts being transferred, withdrawn to pay credit card bills or withdrawn to cover check payments. They claimed Owens had withdrawn $50,000 from his great aunt's 401-K retirement account linked to Chase Bank without consulting her or other family members, the police report said. And they told police they believed that Owens had his great aunt sign over ownership of the two vehicles to him without her understanding what she was signing.

The police report said the great niece provided "a document from the Stark County Probate Court, dated May 9, 2024, showing that (the great aunt) is no longer competent and able to make sound decisions."

A search of the online docket of the Stark County Probate Court does not indicate anyone has sought to have the court declare the great aunt incompetent and to appoint a guardian to manage her affairs on her behalf.

Owens not suspended from his county job

Owens is the division supervisor for the Stark County Auditor's Weights and Measures Department.

“The charges didn’t involve my office or his duties here and we’ll just continue to evaluate this as it unfolds," county Auditor Alan Harold said.

Harold suggested that for now, Owens once he posts bond to be released from the jail, could return to work and resume doing inspections and overseeing the four auditor's staffers who do inspections.

Owens supervises the Stark County Auditor's department that tests that the number of gallons on the displays of gas station gas pumps matches the actual number of gallons of fuel dispensed. Workers also go to supermarkets to test the accuracy of scales and price scanners. The department's inspectors also check the accuracy of scales at other businesses.

Harold declined to comment on the charges against Owens. He said when Owens was arrested it was not during one of Owens' inspections or while he was on work time. While Owens was scheduled to work Tuesday, Harold indicated he was between work assignments when police took him into custody.

North Canton Police Sgt. Matthew Buzzard confirmed that police officers asked Owens to come down to the police station Tuesday afternoon. They questioned him and then arrested him at the station.

Owens' wife, Melissa Owens, a North Canton council member who represents Ward 3, declined to comment.

Nicholas Owens worked as a weights and measures inspector for the Stark County Auditor's office from 1997 to 2008. He then was a part-time and then full-time elections preparations coordinator for about three years for the Stark County Board of Elections.

After Harold was first elected county auditor, he hired Nicholas Owens as his consumer protection coordinator in 2011. Owens has worked for him since.

Nicholas Owens ran unsuccessfully for Pike Township trustee in 2011. He later moved to North Canton. In March, he was re-elected to the Stark County Republican Central Committee as a precinct committee member for the precinct North Canton 3A.

Full Article & Source:
Stark County worker accused of stealing $550K, two cars from great aunt

Three women charged with felony elder abuse at Guthrie nursing home over Snapchat videos

by Jordan Gerard 

Three women who were employees of a nursing home in Guthrie have been charged with felony elder abuse and conspiracy.

According to court documents, McKenzie Bolfa, 20, and Aubrey Granata, 21, both of Guthrie, and Jade Williams, 21, of Oklahoma City, were arrested and charged last week. All worked at the Golden Age Nursing Home.

The Guthrie Police Department declined to provide The Oklahoman with the incident report or details about the case, but an Oklahoma City television station, KFOR, quoted Guthrie Police Chief Don Sweger as saying the department launched an investigation after a former employee of the nursing home reported abuse of patients.

"They had excuses for some of their behavior, but it didn't really match up with the evidence we had uncovered," Sweger told the TV station. The date of the offense listed on the court dockets is Dec. 1, 2023.

The women allegedly sent and received Snapchats of residents, including a video of a resident in only a shirt and diaper, with fecal matter on the bed, sheets and the resident’s socks, according to the KFOR report. Other videos found by investigators included a male resident lying on his stomach “nude from the waist down.”

“It’s probably one of the saddest things,” Sweger told KFOR. “We take service to everybody very responsibly, but especially for those who don’t have a voice for themselves.”

A spokesperson for Golden Age, Tandie Hastings, sent a statement to The Oklahoman on Thursday saying the women were no longer employed at the facility. She said all employees were subject to background checks and receive training about patients’ rights and safety.

“We are committed to protecting the privacy and safety of the residents and families involved and will continue to keep them updated with any developments related to this matter,” the statement said.

According to court documents, Bolfa and Granata posted a $50,000 bond on the conspiracy charge and were released with court dates scheduled in July and August. Williams had not posted bond as of Friday and was being held by the Logan County sheriff’s office, according to the court's website.

Full Article & Source:
Three women charged with felony elder abuse at Guthrie nursing home over Snapchat videos

Meet Blue, The Dog Who Traveled 4 Miles To Get Help For Owner Trapped In Ravine

By Graeme Demianyk 

Brandon Garrett and his dog Blue.
Baker County Sheriff's Office

Local authorities have published a photograph of the hero dog ran who ran four miles to get help for his owner after a car crash left him trapped in a ravine in Oregon.

Blue, whom The New York Times identified as a whippet, is credited by rescue services with helping save Brandon Garrett after his truck went off a remote road in a heavily wooded part of the state close to the border with Idaho on June 2, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Garrett was driving with his four dogs when the vehicle plummeted at a curve in the road. One of the dogs, later identified as Blue, traveled four miles to the campsite where Garrett and the dogs had been, which alerted a friend of Garrett’s that something was wrong.

Prompted by Blue’s appearance, Garrett’s family started searching for him. They found his vehicle the next day but couldn’t reach it in the steep terrain.

The party called 911, and rescue services found Garrett about 100 yards from his white pickup truck on its side in a creek after they heard him yell for help. Garrett had been able to crawl out of the car after the crash, the sheriff’s office said.

Photos of the rescue show him in a stretcher hooked onto ropes, which were used as a pulley system to transport him to safety across the ravine.

He was airlifted to hospital, authorities said. Garrett’s other dogs were found alive at the scene of the crash.

“He’s got a cracked ankle and his body itself is just really bruised and battered,” Garrett’s brother, Tyree Garrett, told The New York Times.

He added one of the three dogs that remained at the site of the crash had surgery for a broken hip and injured its femur, and another broke its leg in two places.

After widespread coverage of Blue’s valiance, the sheriff’s office put a photo of the whippet on its Facebook page after an apparent clamor to see him.


In this image provided by the Baker County Sheriff's Office, responders aid in rescue efforts after a vehicle went into an embankment on U.S. Forest Service Road 39 on June 3 in Oregon.
via Associated Press

A vehicle is seen after it went into an embankment on U.S. Forest Service Road 39.
via Associated Press

Full Article & Source:
Meet Blue, The Dog Who Traveled 4 Miles To Get Help For Owner Trapped In Ravine

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Dog runs four miles to get help for owner who crashed car into Oregon ravine