Any Charges Reported on this blog are Merely Accusations and the Defendants are Presumed Innocent Unless and Until Proven Guilty, through the courts.

June 30, 2009

Jury Wards a Groundbreaking Verdict in Elder Abuse/Neglect Case (WA. USA)

Vista Jury Awards a Groundbreaking Verdict in Elder Abuse/Neglect Case

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A Vista jury unanimously awarded plaintiff Elaine Stinson nearly $1.34 million for the reckless abuse and neglect she suffered at the hands of her care providers at Leisure Palms, a Fallbrook licensed residential care facility for the elderly. (Case No. 37-2008-00050484-CU-PO-NC, Stinson v. Leisure Palms, et al.)

June 29, 2009

In a groundbreaking elder abuse/neglect case, a Vista jury unanimously awarded plaintiff Elaine Stinson nearly $1.34 million for the reckless abuse and neglect she suffered at the hands of her care providers at Leisure Palms, a Fallbrook licensed residential care facility for the elderly. The verdict was decided today, June 15, 2009.

The jury awarded $88,000 for past medical bills, $500,000 in general damages, and $750,000 in punitive damages. In addition, plaintiff's attorneys will file a post-judgment motion for attorneys, expert fees, and costs, likely adding another $400,000 or more to the judgment.

"This is the first of its kind in a case that gets at reckless neglect in a residential care facility for the elderly," according to Prescott Cole, senior staff attorney of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, a statewide nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to improving the choices, care and quality of life for California's long term care consumers. "This case defined what reckless neglect is and the verdict shines a bright light on it. The 3.8 million seniors in California and 38 million Californians overall are all rich winners today; and we have Mrs. Stinson and her attorneys to thank for being courageous enough to go all the way to clarify the law. They moved the bar way up, made a statement that these kinds of things can go to trial, the jury gets it, understands how bad it is, and the defense can't hide under the assumption that clients can be browbeaten, intimidated by the system, and will give up before achieving justice. As an advocate, this is thrilling."


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Promoting Bill to Combat Elder Abuse (MI. USA)

Promoting bill to combat elder abuse

Last year, over 16,000 adults were abused, and it's estimated that 73,000 adult abuse cases go unreported every year.

June 29, 2009

UP legislators are in Marquette Monday promoting a bill that would combat elder neglect, emotional, and physical abuse.

The bill would also focus on financial exploitation of the elderly.

It proposes tougher punishment for those committing offenses.

The legislators conducted an informal meeting at the Senior Center in Marquette today. Unfortunately, nobody attended the meeting, but with a 40 percent increase in elder abuse in Michigan, lawmakers say the issue is extremely important, and the the bill needs to be passed.

"Sometimes the people that gain these peoples trust are than taking their money, they abuse them in someway, and we just want to make sure that doesn't happen," says State Representative, Steve Lindberg.

SOURCE: WLUC TV6 - Marquette,Michigan,USA


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Families of Elder Abuse Victims Using Technology to Spread Awareness

June 29, 2009

By Thomas Gallivan

June 29, 2009

The families of elder abuse victims are using social networking sites, Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, to gain support for reform in long-term care facilities. The group, which was founded by family member's personally affected by alleged abuse in a Minnesota nursing home, can be found by conducting a search for "Families Against Nursing Home Abuse" on any of these sites.

The group members describe themselves as being "committed to providing information and resources for the continuum of long-term care -- from successful aging, to aging in the home, to assisted living, to hospice care, as well as nursing home care."

Those interested in becoming members of the group can join online, or call Jan Reshetar at 402-4749 or Myrna Sorensen at 383-6963.


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Elder Abuse, Fraud Reports Rising As Economy Sinks

By Mike Sever

Record-Courier staff writer

It’s the same old see-saw — as the local economy sinks, reports of elder fraud and abuse are on the rise, officials say.

The number of elder abuse cases opened last year was 60 percent higher than in 2007, according to Cathi Rufener, family assessment supervisor for the Portage County Department of Job and Family Services. And, in the first quarter of this year, the department opened upwards of 70 cases.

A total of 210 cases of elder abuse were opened last year compared to 127 in 2007, Rufener said. How high the case load goes this year “probably depends on how the economy goes, how hot it gets this summer and how cold it gets this winter,” she said.

The department is working closely with the Portage County Sheriff’s Office, which has two investigators working with Adult Protective Services.

The close collaboration is important, Sheriff David Doak said. Caseworkers and investigators will respond together in serious cases.

“They are able to pick up those cases and run with them from start to finish,” he said. “If there is an in-house perpetrator we need to get on it right away.”

People who might suspect abuse or victimization of an elderly person can report it to the CARES Line (330-296-273). It’s the same hotline used to report suspected child abuse.



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DA Unit targeting Elder Abuse (PA. USA)

DA unit targeting elder abuse

June 28, 2009

A little more than a year ago, Montgomery County prosecutors set their sights on exposing abuse of the elderly, and the effort is bringing renewed scrutiny to those people and institutions entrusted to care for the aged.

Recently, the District Attorney's Office charged a woman for scalding an elderly man with hot cereal and a second woman pleaded in court of stealing her 86-year-old stepfather's Social Security checks and changing the deed on his home.

District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman created the Elder Abuse Unit in 2008 to address a rise in reported crimes against the elderly, which included physical and sexual assaults, neglect, theft and other financial exploitation.

The unit's first case was that of a nursing home employee, Henrietta Sprual, who pleaded guilty last year to assaulting an Alzheimer's patient in 2007. The Upper Darby woman beat a patient with a belt buckle while working at an Upper Merion nursing home. She has yet to be sentenced for the crime.

In the past, some deaths at nursing homes or assisted-living centers may have escaped scrutiny given the advanced age and medical condition of residents.

"Now that we have the Elder Abuse Unit, we're looking in a much more comprehensive way at these kinds of deaths," Ferman said.

Ronald Meyers' death was one such case. The 79-year-old Alzheimer's patient was allegedly force fed scalding hot cereal last October at Cambridge-Brightfield Assisted Living Facility in Hatfield by a resident assistant.

After suffering severe burns to his lips, mouth, tongue and throat, Meyers was unable to eat and died two weeks later, prosecutors allege.

"There's nothing natural about this death," Ferman said.

The 55-year-old aide, Alvador Thompson, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and neglect of a care-dependent person for the man's death.

The DA's unit supervises an Elder Abuse Task Force, a multi-disciplinary committee of law enforcement agencies and the county's Aging and Adult Services.

The task force, which includes all county agencies charged with protecting senior citizens, reviews individual cases to determine if the believe abuse has occurred.

Richman was told at an elder affairs seminar that having a group of professionals to confer and vet individual cases is essential.

To develop people's ability to recognize telltale signs of abuse, the DA offers training to police, nurses, nursing home employees, hospice workers — even funeral directors.

In another case, an 86-year-old man's stepdaughter allegedly served as his power of attorney back in 2003. The Lansdale woman victimized the elderly man, who had dementia, authorities said.

Eventually the 62-year-old stepdaughter, Alice Holloway, was arrested and charged with stealing Samuel Rines Sr.'s money and illegally transferring the deed to his house, according to court papers.

Holloway allegedly filled out a change of address form last August and had Rine's mail forwarded to her home. She then began receiving his Social Security checks, convincing the Social Security Adminstration in Jenkintown that Rines was unable to handle his own affairs.

With money in the bank, the woman made regular cash withdrawals, according an affidavit.

Last October, Holloway, her husband and Rines went to the Lighthouse Land Transfer office in Norristown, and after telling an official the elderly man was a stroke victim, she allegedly transferred Rines' deed into her name for $1.

Holloway has pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge and was sentenced to 11½ to 23 months in prison, according to court records.

To contact the DA's Elder Abuse Hotline, call (800) 734-2020.


SOURCE: The Reporter Online


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June 29, 2009

What Elder Abuse? We Do Not Have Them! (International)

By Andrew Chadwick

Yes, this appear to be the stance many politicians are taking. “Don’t you know there is an global financial crisis?”

It is as though a financial crisis just completely “wiped out” child abuse, elder abuse, and other social abhorrences.

My question is simply- Why the various countries have allowed the crisis to occur in the first place?

I may be naïve, but I believe that governments have allowed the “fat cats” to plunge our economies to the present depth of sorrows. There must be lessons learnt, and it is now up to the various governments to do more than bankroll the guilty parties.

Coming back to funding cuts to various social services, especially those that will affect the welfare of the most vulnerable in our society; children and elderly.

As this blog is about Elder Abuse, I will just comment on this issue. The plight of many elderly who had been abused is real. Their pains and trauma do not disappear according to the health of the economy.

We must not allow ourselves to be de-sensitized to the plight of the frail and needy in good times or bad.

One email from a visitor to this site, brought tears to my eyes. In that email, this man outlined how he was systematically conned out of his retirement fund, by none other than his own son. The last line of his email states:

“ I am nearing 78 years, now without any retirement funds……..I have all but lost hope.”

Let us continue to be human. Let us NOT de-humanized the frail and the needy, by forgetting them and deprive them of help and services; even in times of economic downturn.

We now read, on a daily basis, about budget cuts to a range of services. This is happening all over the world.

My Plea:

Let us speak up for the frail and vulnerable in our society. We may be the ones who would need those vital social services in the near future.


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June 28, 2009

Summit Aims to Educate Clergy Members about Elder Abuse (CA. USA)

26 June, 2009

An educational summit was held in Cupertino Thursday to train clergy members on how to look for signs of elder abuse.

According to the Mercury News, clergy members were added to a state list of “mandated reporters” five years ago and are required by law to report to authorities if they suspect abuse or neglect of seniors.

But despite the new law, organizers of the abuse summit say the problem is continuing to grow and that no reports of abuse have been filed by any clergy members in the county since then. Betty Malks, project director of the Elder Abuse and Neglect Initiative, says it is very important for churches to be educated about this issue because elders have the highest church attendance rates.

According to Malks, sixty to ninety percent of all cases involve family members. Malk says financial elder abuse is a hidden crime that often goes unreported. National statistics show only one in 100 cases are ever reported.

“That’s due to the shame and humiliation that’s involved with financial abuse especially if it’s in your family. You know, many people will say to me, ‘I didn’t raise my kids to do this,’” said Malks.

In Santa Clara County, Malks says 39 to 40 percent of all reports made to adult protective services involve elder abuse.

The Mercury News reports there are an estimated 700 churches, temples and mosques in the county. Malks hopes that by working with these faith-based organizations, more awareness will be spread about the problem.


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Elderly Not Protected From financial Abuse (IRELAND)

June 27, 2009


THE DEPARTMENT of Finance has failed to “step up to the plate” to protect older people from financial abuse, a conference on elder abuse was told yesterday.

The chairman of the Government’s Elder Abuse National Implementation Group, Professor Des O’Neill, said the group was very disappointed the department had refused to become part of the team set up to address financial abuse of the elderly.

Mr O’Neill was speaking at Protecting Older Adults: Interweaving Responses to Elder Abuse , a conference organised by Age Action Ireland in Dublin.

Elder abuse can take many forms including physical, financial, psychological, material or sexual.

The conference heard the number of cases of elder abuse reported to the HSE is about 1,800 a year, but in reality was likely to be between 14,000 and 23,000, based on studies in other countries. The majority of abuse occurs in the family environment, with 16 per cent of people experiencing financial abuse, both by friends and family and by financial institutions.

Cases discussed included one of an 83-year-old woman who was sold a €30,000, five-year investment bond and died before it matured.

Mr O’Neill said his group’s role was to oversee the implementation of the Government’s Protecting Our Future report, which was published in 2002.

Since then, there had been no significant moves to provide training on elder abuse, or for the detection, assessment and management of elder abuse, he said.

Law Reform Commissioner Patricia Rickard-Clarke said mechanisms put in place to protect older people including the Enduring Power of Attorney, were being abused.

“Elderly people’s assets are put into joint accounts for the convenience of the older person and then the attorney goes into the bank and starts withdrawing cash for their own benefit,” she said.

Banks needed to ask questions when an elderly person presented to open a joint bank account including, why they were opening it, and what they intended to happen to it after their death, Ms Rickard-Clarke said.

Launching the conference, Minister for Older People Áine Brady said she would call on the financial institutions to discuss how best to protect older people against financial abuse.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance declined to comment on why the department had refused to become part of a team set up to address financial abuse of the elderly.


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June 26, 2009

Elderly in Costa Rica Seen As Family's "Petty Cash" (Costa Rica)

Elderly In Costa Rica Seen As Family's "Petty Cash"

Contrary to popular belief, in Costa Rica the children don't always maintain their parents when they reach retirement age
. A new study shows that some 100.000 Costa Rican families live off the savings and pensions of their elderly family members.

The study "Primer Informe sobre la Persona Adulta Mayor" by the Centro Centroamericano de Población (CCP) of the Universidad de Costa Rica
(UCR), shows that a third of the elderly in Costa Rica maintain up to 35% of the expenditures of their children, that includes paying for university tuition for their grandchildren and utility bills for the family.

The study took into account the responses of 2.000 senior citizens and numbers from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (INEC).

The report reveals that is the case of the 100.000 Costa Ricans over the age of 65, a population that concerned itself with savings and now are earning interest, in addition have a pension and many continue to work.

Luis Rosero, director of the CCP and study coordinator, says this group has up to three sources of income and are easily converted into the "petty cash" of the family.

Rosero said that families with university age children finding it difficult to meet their financial burden often turn to older family members for assistance, and as such the senior assumes part of the family's economic burden.

Although in many cases the elderly make their financial contribution voluntarily, for Zulema Villalta, legal advisor to the Comisión Nacional de la Persona Adulta Mayor, the report indicates that there could be cases of abuse of the elderly.

Villalta says that in many times children abuse the situation.


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Man Charged With Abuse of Elderly Mother (MI. USA)

by LaNia Coleman

The Bay City Times

June 25, 2009

Authorities claim an 84-year-old woman had to have her foot amputated because her 54-year-old son neglected her.

District Judge Stephen P. Carras has arraigned Jonathan P. Nelson of Midland on one count of first-degree abuse of a vulnerable adult.

The victim was taken to the emergency room at MidMichigan Medical Center - Midland on May 12 where staff reported she had a fractured ankle, open wounds on one foot and dried feces on various parts of her body, earlier reports indicated.

Nelson remained jailed on $250,000 cash bond. He is awaiting a Wednesday, July 1, preliminary hearing.

At that time, a judge will decide whether sufficient evidence exists for Nelson to face charges in Circuit Court.

First-degree elder abuse is a felony that carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

Nelson is 16 months in to a five-year probation sentence for domestic violence, third offense, and attempted resisting and obstructing a police officer, state Department of Corrections records show.

He pleaded no contest to the charges in Midland County.


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Kiwanians Hear About Elder Exploitation (FL. USA)

Kiwanians hear about elder exploitation


The program for the weekly Kiwanis luncheon on Tuesday, June 23, was presented by Glenda F. Swearingen, an attorney from Marianna. Swearingen’s practice focuses on elder law, and her topic Tuesday was elder exploitation in Florida.

According to Swearingen, “exploitation” is when a person in a position of trust and confidence by deception or intimidation obtains, uses, or attempts to obtain or use a vulnerable adult’s funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive a vulnerable adult of the use, benefit or possession of the funds, assets or property for the benefit of someone other than the vulnerable adult.

Common types of elder exploitation are: identity theft, imposter fraud, mail fraud-solicitation, moving scams, investment scams, long distance calling scams, home repair fraud, charities fraud, telemarketing fraud, and water softener scams.

Sadly, the most common exploiters of the elderly are children, with other relatives or friends also common. Least likely are the siblings of the elder person.

A test for these scams is, IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT IS!

If you know of or suspect exploitation of a vulnerable adult, Florida law requires everyone to report the problem to Adult Protective Services immediately. The Florida Abuse Hotline is 1-800-96-ABUSE. The Florida Elder Help Line is 1-800-963-5337. The Florida Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-500-1119.


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More Elder Abuse Cases (SINGAPORE)

More elder abuse cases

Most common are physical abuse and neglect; financial abuse also on the rise

By Mavis Toh

June 7, 2009

Madam G.H. Teo has four children but wishes she had none.

The 79-year-old widow, who used to work as a seamstress, lives in a one-room flat in the Outram area and survives on the little that is left of her savings.

In May last year, she found her 48-year-old drug addict son milking her savings from a joint account. When confronted, he threw a stool at her.

He still comes back to ask for money, but her other children have not visited her in two years.

Madam Teo is a victim of neglect, and physical and financial abuse.

Help groups for the elderly worry that with the recession, such elder abuse cases will rise.

In a downturn, struggling couples with young children might neglect the needs of elderly family members, including medical and basic needs.

Ms Helen Ko, executive director of the Centre For Seniors, said: 'When people are under pressure and financially strapped, there is a higher chance they will neglect the elderly.'

Mr Wong Lit Shoon, chief executive of the Singapore Action Group of Elders Counselling Centre, said calls to the centre were down by about 1,000 last year, compared to the more than 7,000 calls it received in 2007.

Callers request medical aid as well as report abuse.


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Cost-Cutting; Report Reveals Elderly 'time bomb' (Scotland, UK)

Cost-cutting planned as council report reveals elderly 'time bomb'

25 June 2009

By Andrew Keddie

COUNCILLORS will hear today that health and social services in the Borders are sitting on a time bomb because of a dramatic predicted increase in the number of elderly people in the region.

A report signed off by Scottish Borders Council social work director Andrew Lowe reveals that, in just 11 years time, the number of residents aged over 65 will rise by 40 per cent, while over the same period those aged 85 and over will rocket by 57 per cent.

Significantly, the number of Borderers suffering from dementia is also expected to surge by more than 50 per cent by 2020.

And, at 2007/08 prices, the extra cost to cash-strapped SBC and NHS Borders will be £8.2million a year – up 39 per cent on the two organisations’ current expenditure on old people.

And, at 2007/08 prices, the extra cost to cash-strapped SBC and NHS Borders will be £8.2million a year – up 39 per cent on the two organisations’ current expenditure on old people.

The TOPS review began in August 2007, with two of its key recommendations currently being implemented.

The most controversial of the pair is to increase the share of home care delivered by private providers from 30 per cent to 50 per cent or 5,000 hours a week.
“There is no consistency of service with the existing model,” admits the report.

At today’s SBC meeting, Mr Lowe seeks approval to put four other key elements of the review out to public consultation.

These include introducing a so-called telecare service to allow the frail elderly to remain in their own homes rather than ‘blocking’ beds in hospitals and care homes. When piloted last year, it was discovered the sophisticated system, which uses monitoring and measuring devices to remotely alert clinicians to changes in a patient’s condition, rendered 181 sleepovers by carers and 457 home checks unnecessary.


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Alzheimer Families Feeling 'Betrayed' as Respite Centre Shuts (Ireland)

Alzheimer families feeling 'betrayed' as respite centre shuts

By Andrew Phelan

June 25 2009

OPPOSITION is growing over the latest hospital closure to hit the health service -- the summer shutting of a newly refurbished respite care unit at Cherry Orchard.

At least 25 families caring for elderly relatives including Alzheimer's sufferers will be affected by the imminent move by the HSE.

Fearing disruption to the respite services, they are mounting a protest campaign demanding that the closure of the Beech Unit be called off, and claiming they had been "betrayed" by the Government.

Families from Ballyfermot, Clondalkin and Palmerstown are all set to be affected and some patients claim they have been told to look for private care in homes in Harold's Cross and Lucan.

But the HSE denied that the unit would close "indefinitely", insisting it would be up and running as normal again in October. The Executive also said those who could not be relocated elsewhere in the hospital would be sent to nursing homes as close as possible to where they lived.

A protest was mounted outside the hospital gates on June 19. A public meeting will be held in Ballyfermot next Tuesday to discuss the planned cuts and to organise support.

Lesley Gaynor, one of the main organisers of the campaign, said he had been inundated with phone calls since the announcement was made.


Lesley and his family care for his father-in-law and mother-in-law in their house on Kylemore Road and he says the short breaks they get thanks to the respite care are "a godsend".

A spokesperson for the HSE blamed the closure on a combination of summer being "peak holiday period" and large numbers of staff being absent on maternity leave

Family carers must be given the support to enable them to take regular breaks from the daunting tasks they undertake. Some studies indicated that carer's fatigue might lead to elder abuse.
I do not thing we can begin to understand the toll of these dedicated family carers. Those in government must ensure that these carers are given the support; afterall, they are really saving the community a lot of money in undertaking those caring tasks.

................... AC

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Police Need Help Finding a Woman Accused of Elder Abuse (CA. USA)

Bakersfield police need help finding a woman accused of elder abuse

6/24 /2009

Bakersfield Police need help finding a woman accused of victimizing an elderly person.

Police say the suspect stole property, and money from the victim's northeast Bakersfield home.

The suspect is 24-year-old Lauren Ruth Vance, the incident she's wanted for stems from a burglary in April where authorities say Vance was familiar with the elderly victim, and cased the home prior to burglarizing it. "The elderly are more vulnerable, they come from a time period where they want to trust people." said Detective Mary DeGeare with the Bakersfield Police Department.

It's that trust police say may have been violated Vance allegedly broke into a home in April, stealing money, and property from an elderly resident.

"She knew them, she was familiar with their habits, with their assets, and waited until they were not home, and planned and participated in the burglary." said DeGeare.

Police say Vance is wanted for residential burglary, grand theft and financial elder abuse.

"Financial abuse to an elder is financial suicide." said Sandy Morris, with the BPD's crime prevention unit.

Morris say in these types of situations, where the suspect knows the victim, then takes advantage of them, it can be especially damaging.

"If you and I get taken advantage of, we buy something that's bogus and we have to recoup the money, we can go to work tomorrow and make it back." said Morris.

"But a senior has no way of doing that."

That's why Morris says it's important to keep a watchful eye on your elderly residents.

If you have any information on this case, or know the whereabouts of Lauren Vance.
You are asked to call police at 327-7111.


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On Elder Abuse (Barbados)

On Elder Abuse
Barbados Advocate, Editorial


Barbados recently participated in the global observance on June 15 of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and, last weekend, in this connection, we heard of the imminent passage of legislation to proscribe abuse of the elderly. We are not nearly as sanguine as the Honourable Minister of Family, Youth and Sport, Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo that, as she put it; “…the law [will] put a stop to the practice…” since we are not entirely persuaded that the law by itself suffices to eradicate criminality. However, we are mindful that the assiduous enforcement of any such legislation will further demonstrate our society’s commitment to punishing the perpetrators of this harmful conduct, and to that extent we fully support its enactment.

We recognise the difficulty of identifying elder abuse given the environments in which it usually takes place – the home or institutional settings – and the fear or reluctance of the primary victims to name their abusers. Further, while the evidence of physical abuse might be immediately apparent, even if explained away on other grounds to protect the perpetrator or through fear of retaliation; other forms of abuse such as emotional abuse – intimidation and neglect –, healthcare fraud – overmedication and fictional charges – and financial exploitation – identity theft, forged signatures and the stealing of social security benefits – might go undetected for a substantial period.

Those who are charged with the enforcement of the legislation and those who have the interest of the elderly person at heart must therefore be on the alert for the symptoms and signs of these forms of abuse. Education in this regard will thus become necessary. There should also be statutory provision for the mandatory reporting of suspected elder abuse by those who may be witnesses to this or have reasonable suspicion that it is occurring such as medical personnel, financial institutions and social workers. Telephone help lines should be made available for reporting abuse to eldercare agencies or to an ombudsman with the appropriate powers of investigation.

Finally, we agree with Acting Senior Welfare Officer, Mr. James Cummins, that the abuse of the elderly is not a private matter. As he said, we are thereby denying the victims their civil rights and, we would add, their dignity as human beings. It is high time that we seek to recognise and punish this wrong against our growing demographic of elder citizens.


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June 25, 2009

Testamentary Capacity and Undue Influence in Criminal Proceedings (USA)

Testamentary capacity and undue influence in criminal proceedings

By Saul Elnadav

2009 06 24

An article in Monday’s New York Law Journal raised the interesting question of whether a criminal trial is the best place to get to the bottom of issues surrounding Brooke Astor’s estate.

The case has all the hallmarks of a classic will contest. Anthony Marshall, Brooke Astor’s son, is accused of taking advantage of his mother’s dementia to divert assets from her estate to himself by influencing her to amend her will. The matter is now the subject of a criminal trial in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, but the issues – testamentary capacity and undue influence, among others – are most often seen in Surrogate’s Court.

It’s not just a question of which forum the case is tried in. The issues involved can get very sticky when applied in the real world. Family dynamics are always nuanced. When elderly parents, particularly those with diminishing mental capabilities, rely on their children, are the children being helpful, are they being controlling, do the parents feel controlled? What goes on outside of the earshot of the lawyers preparing the will? In the Astor case, the lawyers themselves are alleged to be part of the problem.

I noted earlier that whether someone has testamentary capacity is not a simple yes or no. Someone can suffer with Alzheimer’s disease and lack testamentary capacity, but wake up one morning with a clear mind and sign a will. The will may be valid, but proving capacity is another matter entirely.

These issues frequently arise in will contests, and Surrogate’s Court has the expertise to deal with them. A criminal fraud and conspiracy trial, on the other hand, may not be the best way to untangle what exactly was or was not on Brooke Astor’s mind when she signed the amendment to her will. In this particular case, the drama involving the so-called “doyenne” of New York society and her son, the cameo appearances of famous people like Henry Kissinger and Barbara Walters as witnesses, and news, blog and tabloid coverage (in no particular order), will certainly compound the difficulties of a careful analysis of the issues.

But there’s another important consideration. Unlike Supreme Court, Surrogate’s Court can’t impose criminal sanctions. It can order Anthony Marshall to return assets, but it can’t send him to prison for committing fraud. According to a former prosecutor quoted in the Law Journal article, “as the problem of elder financial abuse has gotten more serious, the courts have recognized that the penal law must be read more broadly to fully fulfill its purpose.”


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Assembly OKs Plan to Toughen Fines for Elder Abuse (CA. USA)

By John Canalisf, Staff Writer


The state Assembly's Public Safety Committee on Tuesday approved a plan by Sen. Jenny Oropeza that would strengthen fines and other penalties against those who physically abuse senior citizens.

Senate Bill 18 won bipartisan support from the committee, according to Ray Sotero, spokesman for the Long Beach Democrat.

The bill would increase fines for those who abuse dependent adults and seniors ages 65 and older.

"Elder abuse is a hidden, pervasive and deadly crime where a shocking 84 percent of 5 million cases go unreported nationwide," Oropeza said in a statement issued after the hearing. "As California will have more than 9 million aged residents by 2020, SB 18 would shine light on a growing problem."

SB 18, according to Sotero's news release, would:

Increase from $6,000 to $10,000 fines for those found guilty of placing an elder or dependent adult in situations where great bodily harm or death is likely.

Increase from $2,000 to $5,000 the fine for those found guilty of placing an elder or dependent adult in dangerous situations not likely to cause death or serious bodily injury.

Supporters of SB 18 include the California District Attorneys Association, the California State Sheriffs Association, the California Commission on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association.

SB 18 requires Assembly approval as well. The state's lower house has not scheduled a hearing.


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Senior Citizens on the Streets (BHUTAN)

The number of old and abandoned people on the streets flies in the face of our GNH philosophy

By Kinga Dema

23 June, 2009

His wrinkled right hand wrapped tight around a stick, Lhakpa, 74, sits on a roadside pavement near the Thimphu vegetable market, staring at no one in particular. Land-cruisers zip by leaving a cloud of dust. The specks descend on his faded gho, dusty from days of sitting by the roadside. He lights a bidi, takes in a deep puff, and is ready to talk to Kuensel.

"Whether I’m alive or not doesn’t make any difference to my son," says Lhakpa.

He came to Thimphu from Paro after he fell severely ill years ago. He spent months in Thimphu hospital. By the time he recovered, he learnt that his only son had sold the small house he owned in Paro and disowned him. His wife had died several years back. Lhakpa became a vagabond.

"I never have three meals a day," he said, adding that he is just praying for a peaceful death.

Lhakpa has many such friends with him: old people loitering around town, begging near monasteries or markets, and sleeping on the sidewalks.

What prompts these old people to leave their villages is their children, who have migrated to urban centres for work. With age fast catching up on them, and no one to look after them in the villages, they come to towns to spend their last days with their children.

Many land up being mistreated, as their children struggle to survive the high standard of living in towns. This is especially true where the children earn less. At times, the stubbornness of old parents resulted in ego clashes with their children, so they walked out of homes.

The issue, observers say, is the disintegration of traditional families into nuclear ones and whether there should be an old age home in Bhutan. There aren’t many agencies that have taken up the issue.

Tarayana Foundation, a non-government organisation, looks after the welfare of abandoned, disabled and mentally challenged people. They are paid a monthly stipend of Nu 500. It also disperses funds-to dzongkhags for such identified people in the villages. As of 2008, Tarayana supports 141 senior citizens and 73 people under special needs programme across the country.

The director of the national commission for women and children (NCWC), Dr Rinchen Chophel, said that NCWC handled people discarded by their families. NCWC was promoting the issue in every possible way, he said.

"The government should decide whether they can apply the concept of GNH equally for everyone, including discarded elderly people," said Dr Rinchen Chophel. "The concept shouldn’t just apply to those, who are happy, because they already have ways and means."

National Assembly (NA) member, Dupthob, said that, although Bhutan needs an old age home, the pros and cons should be studied well. He said that it might hurt the age-old traditional family bonds and values that most Bhutanese share, unlike in the west. "So, if there’s an old age home, chances of children dumping their parents are likely to increase."


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June 24, 2009

Man Charged With Attempted Murder and Elder Abuse of Mother (CA. USA)

$1M bail for SoCal man accused of shovel beating

The Associated Press


Bail has been doubled for a Fountain Valley man charged with attempted murder and elder abuse for allegedly attacking his 74-year-old mother with a shovel.

An Orange County Superior Court judge raised bail to $1 million Tuesday for 48-year-old Robert Char.

Police say Char told them he had a fight with his mother and believed he had killed her. They found his mother, Joyce Char, inside on the floor with serious injuries to her head face and body

Detectives believe Robert Char beat his mother with a shovel. She was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

He will be arraigned July 17.


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