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

September 29, 2011

Empowering Abused Seniors (CANADA)

Empowering abused seniors
By: Claude Beaulieu cbeaulieu@astral.com

The Cavendish Health and Social Services Center is spearheading a project it hopes will help beat back the phenomenon of elder abuse.
Elder abuse can take many forms, often several at the same time, including physical, psychological and financial abuse. The Cavendish Health and Social Services Center is launching a project called "Taking Charge" it hopes will help seniors get out of abusive situaitons and assist volunteers and professionals who work with seniors. 

Sarita Israel is one of the instigators of the project, which she says is largely about empowering people by giving them easily-accessible information about identifying elder abuse and helping victim.

At the heart of the project is a website: www.elderabuseisaglobalissue.com.


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NHS Bosses Backtrack on Plans to Cut Incontinence Pads (UK)

Bucks NHS bosses backtrack on plans to cut incontinence pads
28th September 2011

NHS chiefs have backtracked on plans halve the number of incontinence pads it supplies to nursing home residents, following an outcry from carers.
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust sent letters to homes earlier this year, saying the number of pads available to each resident each day would be cut from four to two.

But a backlash from care workers appears to have forced a rethink. One Bucks carer, who asked not to be named, said: “When you run out of pads you have to rely on the family to cough up to buy more, but not everybody has family.”
“We had an incident recently where we ran out of pads and you've got people sitting around without any knickers on....

“They are going to be urinating on the plastic sheets put down on the chairs or on their clothes. Residents with dementia then don't understand why they are dirty and it can be very embarrassing and distressing for them.
“It's a dreadful, dreadful thing to have to watch happen to them. They should have however many pads are needed.”

She said some carers have gone out and bought pads for residents when the home has run out, which they are not allowed to do. A box of ten costs about £2.50.

The trust said 'bowel habit', fluid intake and other lifestyle changes could be made to tackle incontinence more effectively.
And spokesman Richard Burton said would be increased support, training and education to patients and carers.

He added: “Following feedback from patients and care homes, we have decided to pause the implementation of these recommendations.
“It is important that the continence service follows national best practice, and all patients will be reviewed individually before any changes are made to their incontinence pad prescription or their support programme.”

Iver resident Bernadette Hedger, 63, has friends who live in nursing homes and has been protesting against any changes. She told the Free Press: “Cutting the pads could open the residents up to infection and all sorts of things.
“These people are elderly and frail and can't speak for themselves...Their dignity is just being written off if this goes ahead. Once again the elderly and infirm will be at the bottom of the heap.”

SOURCE:     The Bucks FreePress


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Decision Delayed on Jail Time in Elder Abuse Case (USA)

Decision delayed on jail time in elder abuse case
September 27, 2011

Freeborn County District Court Judge Steve Schwab has delayed a decision about whether to waive the third jail stint for the two young women convicted of abusing residents at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea.
During a hearing Tuesday, Schwab said there were two key components of the sentence for Brianna Broitzman, 22, and Ashton Larson, 21, that have not yet been completed. He would like to wait and see how things go with these two aspects before he makes an order.

The first component is what is called “restorative justice,” where the defendants meet with the victims’ families during a monitored mediation. The families are able to ask questions of the two young women and hopefully receive some closure and healing.

Schwab called this the most important aspect of the entire sentencing.
He said the state government shutdown and scheduling problems played a factor into why this wasn’t able to be completed earlier.
The second component regarded Broitzman and Larson’s letters of apology that had been written to the victims’ families at least three months ago but never mailed out.
This was because of a Freeborn County Court Services clerical error.
He was clear to point out neither Broitzman nor Larson were to blame for either of these two components. In fact, they have completed all conditions required of them that they had control over.
With these two concerns in mind, Schwab pushed back the report date for the third jail term for both women to Jan. 20, 2012. That should allow time for the missing components to be completed before he has to decide whether it is validated to waive this stint.

He said he will get a report from Court Services staff 30 days prior to that date with information about how the mediation session went. After seeing this, he will issue an order regarding the jail time.
“I think the judge did the right thing,” Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson said, calling it a “reasonable” decision.
Nelson said there are family members of the victims who want to meet with the defendants.

The question they — and many others — want to know is why the actions occurred.


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Live Oak Man Gets 4-year Sentence for Elder Abuse (USA)

Live Oak man gets 4-year sentence for elder abuse
September 27, 2011

A Live Oak man was sentenced this week in Sutter County Superior Court to four years in state prison for stealing money from a hospitalized woman who asked him to deliver her mail and bills.

Kelvin Gene Lay, 48, earlier pleaded guilty to elder abuse for forging 36 checks to himself during her three-month hospital stay for a theft of more than $6,000, possibly to pay his own bills, said Sutter County District Attorney Carl Adams. The 90-year-old woman Lay stole from was on a fixed income and the caretaker of an adult disabled son, Adams said.
Lay and his victim had known each other for about eight years. They were not related, but it was a situation "where she treated him like a son," Adams said.
The timing of Lay's sentencing Monday landed him the prison sentence, but had he been sentenced next week, he would have faced only county jail time under state prison realignment. Starting Saturday, people who are convicted of low-level crimes such as elder abuse by stealing are not classified as serious enough felonies to merit prison time and will instead be sentenced to serve their time in a county facility.

The prison realignment, which legislators passed as part of the 2011-12 budget, aims to trim the state's overcrowded prison population and cut costs. Sutter and Yuba counties have expressed concerns that local jails may soon face overcrowding as a result of taking in people newly convicted of nonviolent, nonsexual and nonserious felonies such as drug possession, vehicle theft, battery and second-degree bu glary.
Lay was arrested April 5 on suspicion of burglary, forgery, grand theft and embezzlement from an elder adult, according to jail records. His previous record includes an arrest in 1996 on suspicion of forgery and issuing fraudulent checks, but the charges were dismissed, and a 16-month prison sentence in 2002 for a probation violation.

Sutter County has more cases of elder abuse like Lay's case, Adams said, but it does not have as many as other areas.
"In a smaller community like this, people tend to know each other better and our elderly in Sutter County are protected better than average," he said. "It's more likely they will have friends who look in on them ... or there are more personal links that help support them."

SOURCE:   The Appeal-Democrat

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A Win for Elder Advocacy (USA)

A win for elder advocacy
By Ken Connor

Last week, the MacArthur Foundation announced the winners of their annual "Genius Grant" awards. Among the winners is Marie-Therese Connolly, an attorney and activist who has been awarded $500,000 for her work combating elder abuse in America. It is heartening to see that an organization with the resources and prestige of the MacArthur Foundation has taken note of Connolly's important work.

The silent epidemic of elder abuse is an issue that has long motivated the work of an organization near and dear to my heart, the Center for a Just Society. With so much injustice and suffering in this world, there are many worthy issues that receive the time, attention, and financial resources of philanthropic organizations. Unfortunately, the plight of the elderly often goes overlooked. This problem is exacerbated by a culture that has changed radically over the past several decades, becoming more and more obsessed with youth, more and more self-centered, more and more disconnected from intergenerational family bonds and obligations.

According to prevailing attitudes about aging in America, there is very little to relish about growing older. It is to be delayed and avoided. Old age is not beautiful, it's not glamorous, it's not dignified. There is a sense that the elderly have had their day in the sun, but are no longer capable of making a valuable contribution to society. They should, therefore, retreat to the shadows and wait to die. This is especially true when they suffer from conditions like dementia, which robs them of their reason and steals their memories along with their ability to interact with their environment.

Many families, lacking the ability to provide for the needs of their loved ones, place their elderly relatives in facilities that advertise themselves as caring, safe, nurturing environments, but are in reality profit-driven businesses that care little for the well-being of their wards. Their emphasis is on profits, not people, and they place revenue ahead of their residents. Avoidable pressure ulcers, falls, fractures, infections, malnutrition, dehydration — all are common problems among the institutionalized elderly.

For those that do elect to care for their aging and infirm relatives at home, the motivation is not always benevolent. Connolly discussed one such instance in a recent interview with NPR:

SOURCE:  RenewAmerica

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September 27, 2011

Government of Canada Supports Seniors in Saskatchewan (CANADA)

Government of Canada Supports Seniors in Saskatchewan
September 26, 2011

(Marketwire - Sept. 26, 2011)

To raise awareness of the abuse of older adults in Canada, the Government of Canada is providing additional funding to the Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism, under the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP).
Mr. Ray Boughen, Member of Parliament for Palliser, made the announcement today on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, and the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors).

"The Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism has successfully increased awareness and knowledge of elder abuse and financial fraud across the province," said Mr. Boughen. "By continuing to support its projects, we are working together to help reduce the incidence of these types of offences."

The Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism is receiving an additional $62,119 in NHSP funding to continue its work on two successful projects: Fraud Awareness for Seniors Toolkit and Abuse Prevention and Response Network project. This funding will allow the organization to translate the toolkit into multiple languages and continue raising awareness of elder abuse through provincial roundtables in remote areas.
A call for proposals for pan-Canadian projects that expand awareness of elder abuse, including financial abuse, will be launched this fall. Organizations will be able to apply for up to $250,000 per year in contribution or grant funding, for a maximum of three years.


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Elder Abuse Charged in Baltimore Co. Nursing Home (USA)

Elder abuse charged in Baltimore Co. nursing home

Harford County Buzz Examiner
September 24, 2011

Shirleen Diane Sheppard, a Baltimore City resident, has been indicted by the Grand Jury in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County on one count of Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult in the Second Degree, two counts of Neglect of a Vulnerable Adult in the Second Degree, and one count of Assault in the Second Degree. 
The charges stem from an alleged assault of an 82-year-old resident of Stella Maris, Inc., a care facility located in Timonium. Sheppard, 57, was serving as a geriatric nursing assistant at the facility when the alleged incident occurred on October 17, 2010.

Abuse and Neglect of a Vulnerable Adult are misdemeanors punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine for each offense. The second degree assault charge, also a misdemeanor, carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a $2,500.00 fine. 

Sheppard’s arraignment is scheduled for October 18, 2011.

SOURCE:      The Examiner

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September 22, 2011

Seniors Need a Voice (CANADA)

Seniors need a voice

 SEPTEMBER 20, 2011

After charges were laid in the murder of an 84-year-old city woman, seniors advocate Ruth Adria noted far too few cases of elder abuse lead to prosecution. We, unfortunately, suspect she is correct.

The problem of senior abuse is broad and has, for several decades, been one of society’s dirty little secrets. Beyond the obvious physical and sexual abuse, there is a wide degree of academic evidence showing seniors in Canada routinely suffer from emotional abuse, financial malfeasance, isolation and poor treatment at the hands of public bodies.
The latter issue is one that is most easily resolved, through intense public pressure. Unfortunately, seniors do not have many outside advocates and do not get the government’s ear.

Four years ago, Alberta seniors pro-posed a sensible solution to the issue of government neglect: An independent provincial advocate who could handle seniors’ concerns and help them navigate through the 19 different bureaucracies that deal with senior issues. Expecting someone in their 70s or 80s who has worked hard their entire life to deal with that is cruel and unusual punishment.

Not only has the request been routinely ignored, Alberta is actually being sued by seniors’ advocates for allegedly enriching itself at their expense via added costs and maximum charges at seniors homes. One government estimate suggests losing the case could cost the budget an extra $175 million a year.
It doesn’t exactly make Alberta sound accommodating of the elderly.
A stark reality in Canada is the average life expectancy is increasing with little regard from governments for ensuring those extra years are not only accommodated in budgetary terms but comfortable for people who deserve it.
These people paid taxes their entire lives, only to be told they can’t live in the same rest home as their spouse, or get an extra serving of food, or that to keep their nutritional requirements up, they’ll have to buy supplement shakes.
Meanwhile, we’re about to mint an interim premier in ex-Washinton lobbyist Gary Mar who was given a $60,000 allowance each year just to send his kids to private school on the public dime.

Alberta needs to give seniors an independent voice, and make their needs a spending priority. 

SOURCE:    The Calgary Sun

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September 19, 2011

Falsified Patient Records are Untold Story of California Nursing Home Care (CA. USA)

Sep. 18, 2011

Today: The practice of nursing homes altering patients' medical records masks serious conditions and covers up care not given. A Bee review of nearly 150 cases of alleged chart falsification in California reveals how the practice puts patients at risk and sometimes leads to death.

Monday: Don Esco sought skilled nursing care at a Placerville facility for Johnnie, his wife of nearly 61 years, when she was recuperating from a bout with pneumonia. She died 13 days later. Esco sued, alleging that the medical charts lied about Johnnie's treatment.
A supervisor at a Carmichael nursing home admitted under oath that she was ordered to alter the medical records of a 92-year-old patient, who died after developing massive, rotting bedsores at the facility.
In Santa Monica, a nursing home was fined $2,500 by the state for falsifying a resident's medical chart, which claimed that the patient was given physical therapy five days a week. The catch? At least 28 of those sessions were documented by nurse assistants who were not at work on those days.
In Los Angeles, lawyers for a woman severely re-injured at a convalescent home discovered a string of false entries – several written by nonexistent nurses.

Phantom nurses. Suspicious entries in medical charts. Phony paperwork, hurriedly produced after an injury or death.
It is the untold story of nursing home care: falsification of patient records.
While regulators have dogged facilities for years over fraudulent Medicare documentation, the issue of bogus records is more than a money matter. In California and elsewhere, nursing homes have been caught altering entries and outright lying on residents' medical charts – sometimes with disastrous human consequences, according to a Bee investigation.
Medications and treatments are documented as being given when they are not. Inaccurate entries have masked serious conditions in some patients, who ultimately died after not receiving proper care, The Bee found.
Fear of costly lawsuits has driven some nursing home administrators to re-create medical records to hide neglectful care.
"The idea that they chart things before they happen or make things up way after the fact if something hits the fan – those are things that we're familiar with," said Mark Zahner, chief of prosecutions for the attorney general's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse.
"And we see (this) with regularity."

Some of California's most experienced elder abuse attorneys, who sue nursing homes for civil damages, say that suspicious or sloppy record-keeping is so common they encounter some aspect of it in virtually every case they investigate.

While some states have aggressively pursued nursing homes that falsify records – imposing hefty fines and charging workers with felonies – California's enforcement efforts have steadily waned, or been short-circuited by the courts.
Falsifying a medical record is a misdemeanor in California, but nursing home workers are rarely charged criminally for the offense.
For state licensing workers, detecting phony records is time-consuming and difficult to prove, officials say. Records falsification is the least common citation issued to nursing homes by the California Department of Public Health, despite claims by attorneys and elder-care advocates that paperwork fraud runs deep.
"It's extremely prevalent," said Sacramento attorney Ed Dudensing, a former prosecutor who won a record $29.1 million jury verdict last year against an Auburn nursing home.


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Children Ripping Off Their Parents at an Alarming Rate (AUSTRALIA)

Children ripping off their parents at an alarming rate
By Shelley Hadfield 
September 19, 2011

GREEDY children are ripping off their vulnerable elderly parents at an alarming rate, leaving some destitute.
Powers of attorney are used as a "licence to steal", elderly parents are pressured into signing over their homes, or money is simply withdrawn from their accounts, it has been revealed.
A Herald Sun investigation has discovered a litany of shocking cases.
In Victoria, State Trustees is investigating 60 possible cases of financial abuse of elderly people by someone close to them. But it believes these are just the tip of the iceberg.
Recent cases include those of a widow who lost her house after her son encouraged her to sign it over for collateral for his business loan.
Law firms receive numerous pleas for help.

"I believe the real numbers are ... unreported," State Trustees manager Steve Cowell said. 
"Most cases are perpetrated by close family members. As a result it is a very silent crime, and one kept very much in the confines of the family."

Seniors Rights Victoria said 39 per cent of 695 people it advised in 2010-11 were seeking help over financial abuse.

Sons were abusers in 29 per cent of cases, and daughters in 18 per cent.

Slater & Gordon solicitor Michael Clohesy said there was formal theft, where an enduring power of attorney was used as a "licence to steal", and informal theft, where money was taken from accounts or property stolen.

"It's actually really common, but it does not get reported. The poor parents are so embarrassed about it," Mr Clohesy said.

"It's amazing what people do. They think mum and dad are old anyway, they don't need the money, there's $150,000 sitting in the account," he said.

Some cases were criminal, but often the only remedy was through civil litigation, he said.

Mr Cowell said many perpetrators felt entitled: "There's that view that mum's and dad's funds are mine."

About one in 10 State Trustees clients under VCAT protection orders are victims of financial elder abuse, some of it resulting from financial mismanagement.

There had been a steady increase in cases in the past 15 years, as banks became less willing to lend and some people saw their elderly parents as an easy option for an interest-free loan.

Some were able to get the title to their parents' home transferred to them within 48 hours.

Some victims did not even understand what had happened, because of age and failing health.

Seniors Rights Victoria manager Jenny Blackey said the ageing population meant more financial abuse of parents.

The Elder Abuse Prevention Unit said in its 2007-08 annual report more than $14 million had been reported stolen from elderly people that year, in Queensland alone. It estimated the total at closer to $97 million.

SOURCE:   The Herald Sun

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September 14, 2011

Elderly Prefer Robot Carers, Study Finds (DENMARK)


As the use of robots in eldercare has exploded in recent years, a new study shows Danes are positive about technologies that could help the elderly live a more independent life.

Devices such as robotic vacuum cleaners and robot companions for Alzheimer’s sufferers are already commonplace. And the study, published by KL, the national association of local governments, found that a majority of the respondents would prefer to receive technological, rather than human assistance when going to the bathroom or eating.

The latest invention, bathing robot, is currently on trial at the  Præsthøjgården nursing home in the Jutland town of Horsens. It is hoped that the Japanese-produced machine can allow some elderly to live without the assistance of caregivers.

The results surprised Bent Greve, a welfare researcher at Roskilde University. “But it illustrates that more people want to be able to cope on their own if they can do so on reasonable terms,” he said.

Seven out of 10 people taking the survey agreed that assistive technology makes it possible to have more control over their own lives, and 55 percent believe it is more dignified to be helped by a machine than another human.

Mayor Anny Winther of the Jutland town of Rebild, and the chairman of KL’s Social and Health Committee, pointed to two benefits.

“Firstly, it can help us allow the elderly to live independently as long as possible. And secondly, with the current economic crisis and future labour shortages, we will have to do things differently in the years to come,” she said.

Although DaneAge, which works for the interests and well-being of the nation’s seniors, was not opposed to letting robots replace human hands to do practical things, it called for clear ethical guidelines.

Olav Felbo, a DaneAge spokesperson, suggested that robots only be used for tasks that didn't involve personal contact, and said that the elderly should not be forced to accept new and foreign technology if they were uneasy about it.

He also warned that the study’s result might be misleading. Its results came from an online poll and for that reason might have attracted more tech-savvy seniors.

SOURCE:     The Copenhagen Post Online

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Elder Abuse –Scam/Fraud (USA)

Sep 13, 2011

Recently, the Ventura Police Department (VPD) took a report of an incident involving an elderly female who had been scammed out of nearly $6,000 by an individual offering to help repair her vehicle.

On August 31, 2011, at approximately 11:15 a.m., the suspect made contact with the victim at her residence and told her he could repair her damaged vehicle. After gaining the victim's trust the suspect drove the victim to her bank where approximately $6,000 was withdrawn and given to the suspect.

While en-route back to the victim's residence the suspect asked to be dropped off at a nearby shopping mall and told the victim he would meet her back at her residence. The victim then drove home and awaited the arrival of the suspect however, the suspect never returned.

During the investigation it was learned that another individual who lives in the same mobile home park had also been visited by the suspect earlier in the day with a very similar story however, the individual did not fall for the scam.

We are issuing this press release in the event anyone may have information about the incident and also to advise community members to be aware of incidents and potential fraudulent scams such as these.

We want to remind the community:

-Please be vigilant and immediately report any and all suspicious activity to VPD at             805-650-8010 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            805-650-8010      end_of_the_skype_highlighting       (24 hr. non-emergency number) or 911 in the event of an emergency.

-Report suspicious subjects knocking at your front door and all solicitors and individuals that appear, or act, suspicious in nature.

-Never let anyone into your home who you do not know or trust.

Scams such as these often prey upon the elderly in order to gain their trust. Please take the time to speak with your elderly parents, friends, and neighbors about scams and frauds and to never provide personal information, or money, to individuals they do not know or trust.

SOURCE:     The Ventura
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September 7, 2011

Elderly Abuse on the Rise in South Florida (USA)

Elderly abuse on the rise in South Florida
By Jerome Burdi, Sun Sentinel
September 5, 2011

Elderly abuse in South Florida is on the rise, and advocates and the state Department of Children & Families are asking the community to help address the problem.

A year ago, Broward and Palm Beach counties recorded some of their lowest abuse numbers in years, according to state statistics. But the latest numbers show statistics headed in the other direction.
From July 2010 through June, Broward County had 5,193 cases of elderly abuse, up from 4,668 the previous year. In Palm Beach County, there were 3,957 cases from 2010 to 2011, up from 3,516 the year before, according to state statistics.
Many of the cases come from self neglect, because the person is poor and may have mental-health issues, officials said.

"You have to care enough just to call," DCF spokesman Mark Riordan said. "Say, 'I think this person may need help' for whatever you're [seeing] to indicate they're starting to not care about themselves."

Noticing an elderly neighbor's overgrown lawn or unkempt home are tell-tale signs of abuse or neglect, officials said.

Cases of exploitation of the elderly by a care worker also are a major issue, authorities said.

"The only people [who can exploit the elderly] at that kind of level are people who do have your trust," Riordan said. "We hope the people we trust would not do that."

In August 2010, Greenacres police said, an elderly couple's caregiver used their checkbook to steal $141,228.

The unidentified woman, whose 82-year-old husband suffered from Alzheimer's disease, contacted authorities. She told detectives she was "perplexed as to where her money was going."

Police linked the money back to the caregiver, Mary Gayle Tomasheski, 56, of The Acreage, who was charged with 177 counts each of forgery and fraud.

Tomasheski is scheduled for trial Oct. 17.

In March 2010 in Hollywood, police accused a financial planner and his stockbroker wife with tricking a pair of elderly sisters out of more than $100,000 and setting themselves up to inherit even more.

The victims, police said, were Josephine Troisi and Mary Teris — then 93 and 95, respectively — both of whom lacked the capacity to make sound decisions, police said.

Tyrone Javellana, 46, and his wife, Cynthia Franke, 50, befriended the sisters and began acting as their advisers, police said. The investigation uncovered transfers from the sisters to the couple ranging from $400 to $32,000, investigators said.

Troisi's son, John, uncovered the apparent crime by keeping a careful eye on his mother's finances, police said.

Javellana and Franke were charged with exploiting the elderly in an amount over $100,000. Their case is still pending in court.

Late last year, DCF introduced a program utilizing 12 court-appointed "elderly guardians" for Palm Beach and Broward counties. The guardians are responsible for looking after an elderly person when he or she has no family available to do it.

"A certain percentage of people lack [mental] capacity and don't understand the consequences of what they're doing," said Emilio Maicas, DCF regional director for Adult Protective Services. "People have reached a point where they simply can't do it anymore."

Issues of neglect or abuse also may crop up when a family is in financial straights, advocates said.

"People need not be embarrassed and not feel alone," said Mary Jones, project director with the Area Agency on Aging of Palm Beach County. "It's something that's OK to ask for help with. You're not a bad person by asking for help."

Another way to help save elders from abuse comes in a word — respect, said Edith Lederberg, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging of Broward County.

"Abuse may come because of lack of respect for elders," she said. "Years ago if someone spoke back to their grandparent [there was trouble]. Respect for your elders went out the window a long time ago."

To report elderly abuse, call the DCF hotline,             800-962-2873 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            800-962-2873      end_of_the_skype_highlighting      . For resources, call Broward County's elder help line,             954-745-9779 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            954-745-9779      end_of_the_skype_highlighting      , or Palm Beach County's help line,             866-684-5885 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            866-684-5885      end_of_the_skype_highlighting      .

Staff researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.

SOURCE:     The Sun-Sentinel

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September 5, 2011

Neglecting Elderly Isn't Partisan Issue - It's Moral One

Neglecting elderly isn't partisan issue — it's moral one
By Scott Maxwell
September 3, 2011

All year, I've been writing about troubling developments when it comes to elderly care in this state.

Cases of neglect, abuse — even death — are on the rise. And Florida politicians are making things even worse, muzzling the watchdogs who report abuse and making it easier for profit-making facilities to skimp on care.
Many of you have expressed outrage.

Well, now the feds are getting involved.

Last week, the U.S. Administration on Aging released an investigative report that determined Florida was "non-compliant" in several elements of Florida's Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

In layman's terms, that means Florida isn't meeting this country's basic standards for protecting and caring for elderly residents.

That's disgraceful.

Elderly care and neglect isn't a partisan issue. It's a moral one.

No patient should miss medication, dine among roaches or go unwashed. Yet we've seen all of that.

There have also been preventable deaths — everything from a 71-year-old with schizophrenia who died of bathtub burns to a 75-year-old Episcopal priest with dementia whose alligator-ravaged body was found in a lake.

The scenarios should be enough to alarm anyone with a parent … or a soul.

Even more troubling than Florida's existing problems is that some want to make things worse.

The troubles that prompted federal officials to investigate started shortly after Rick Scott was sworn in as governor — and he ousted the state's elder-care ombudsman, Brian Lee.

Lee ran a program that was a success by most any measure.

It was primarily volunteers — 400 watchdogs who looked for problems at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. And the Floridians who asked for their help reported 98 percent satisfaction. (Try finding another government agency with a satisfaction rate that high.)

The program also was cheap and effective. Last year, it conducted a record-high 9,000 investigations. And because volunteers were doing most of the work, the agency operated on a shoestring budget: $2.3 million. (By comparison, Gov. Scott requested $600 million in the budget for his executive office alone.)

The agency didn't have all the powers and teeth that many people wanted. But when it got involved, it got results — for pennies on the taxpayers' dollar.

The problem for Lee was that the industries he regulated didn't care for him. He and his staff were too nosy and vigilant.

Scott's administration ousted him.

SOURCE:     The Orlando Sentinel

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Gov. Brown Gets Elder Protection Bill (USA)

Brown gets elder protection bill

When Liz Sanders discovered her mother was fleeced of her life savings two years ago, the Woodland Hills woman was motivated to get justice for more than just her family.

She wanted to stop the same thing from happening to others. It took a lot of phone calls to a lot of politicians, but this week Sanders saw her efforts come to fruition, with the state Legislature passing a bill to crack down on the kind of elderly abuse and fraud that victimized her mother.
Senate Bill 586 by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, will double the penalties for elder and dependent adult abuse. It would also impose new regulations for the issuance of signature stamps by a state-organized bank or credit unions.
Sanders said she hopes her effort will protect seniors from being taken advantage of as her mother was.
"If you don't have the absolute tenacity of a pit bull, you're not going to get anywhere," she said. "I need to get this done."

Sanders' mother, Bette Isenberg of Westwood, was bedridden for multiple health issues in 2009. The elderly woman needed constant medical attention and depended on her in-home care giver, Helen Wofford, to watch after her.
But Wofford ended up siphoning more than $750,000 from Isenberg's savings and assets, running up tens of thousands of dollars with Isenberg's department store credit cards and buying herself a Mercedes.

By May 2010, Wofford pleaded guilty to grand theft and was sentenced to 32 months in prison.
Sanders said the caregiver was able to drain her mother's accounts by using a signature stamp. Banks issue signature stamps to elderly or disabled adults who are unable to physically sign forms or get into a banking branch.
"With a stamp in the wrong hands, you can end up wiped out," Sanders said.
After her mother died in August 2010, Sanders decided to help change the law so other families could be protected from signature stamp abuse.
"I basically called everybody from Obama down," she said. "I'm one person, one voice and I'm screaming here."
Pavley heard her.
"The physical and financial abuse of elder and dependent adults is an insidious and growing problem in California," Pavley said in a statement. "When Ms. Sanders called my office and explained what happened to her mother, it just made sense to pursue legislation."

Pavley's bill was sponsored by AARP and the California Senior Legislature. The Senate passed it Tuesday on a 25-13 vote, sending it to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. The Governor's Office said he has not decided yet whether to sign it.
"Elder abuse is prevalent and caretakers are one of the common suspected abusers," said Gina Satriano, deputy in charge of the elder abuse section of the Los Angeles County District's Attorney's Office.

"We are hopeful that (the bill) will help protect elders as well as protect them from abuse by having regulations. And if abusers are able to get around the regulations, hopefully there will be more scrutiny."

SOURCE:    The Contra Costa Times

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Daughter Charged in Abuse of Mother, 80 (USA)

Daughter charged in abuse of mother, 80
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The daughter of an 80-year-old woman faces charges of elder abuse, Marietta police said Thursday.
Melissa Blue, 49, was arrested after police responded to an injured person call at a Howard Johnson Inn in the 2300 block of Delk Road. While there, officers discovered Melissa Blue's bed-ridden mother, Evelyn, who exhibited signs of neglect.
Evelyn Blue, who had lived at the hotel with her daughter for almost a year, was hospitalized.
Anyone with information concerning the case is asked to call Marietta police detectives at            770-794-5372 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            770-794-5372      end_of_the_skype_highlighting      

SOURCE:   The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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September 1, 2011

Real Estate Agent Charged in Scheme (USA)

Real estate agent charged in scheme
By Tracy Manzer, Staff Writer

A Seal Beach real estate agent has been charged with 34 felony counts in connection with a scheme that saw victims buy into a fake investment pool to the tune of nearly $300,000, police announced Tuesday.

The Seal Beach Police Department launched its investigation into John Wesley Martynec, the sole owner of Samax Real Estate in Seal Beach, in December after several victims came forward, Sgt. Steve Bowles said.
The victims were told their money would be pooled and used to purchase homes in Los Angeles County that were in foreclosure.
Those properties would then be renovated and resold at a profit and the investors would receive their earnings from the venture within six months of the initial investment, the victims told investigators.
Martynec sent the victims updates via email along with property deeds for homes located throughout L.A. County. He claimed he was using the profits from each sold property to purchase additional properties, Bowles said.
As soon as the victims asked that their money be returned as originally agreed upon, Martynec stopped returning phone calls or emails, the sergeant said.
The ensuing investigation revealed Martynec purchased one property, for $292,000, and that property was eventually seized in foreclosure.
"The properties Martynec had listed on the victims' investment statements were real; however neither he nor his company ever owned any of them," Bowles said.

The property deeds sent to the victims were later found to be fraudulent, the sergeant said.
The Orange County District Attorney's office filed 34 felony counts against Martynec, including multiple counts of grand theft, elder abuse (based on theft from an elderly investor) and other violations.
A $150,000 arrest warrant was issued for Martynec on July 12 and he was taken into custody on Aug. 11, Bowles said.
He has since posted bond and is awaiting trial.
Martynec's LinkedIn profile lists his specialties as real estate investments, asset management, portfolio management and fundraising, and it says he is a graduate of Cal State Long Beach.
He lists his previous experience as operations director/
sales manager at JTR Real Estate Inc., operations director/director of sales at Results Mortgage Inc. and investment manager at Shoreline Properties LLC.
Other Web profiles list him as a real estate agent in Long Beach and Huntington Beach.

Martynec could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

SOURCE:     The Press Telegram

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How to Prevent Elder Abuse

How to prevent elder abuse
By ROBERT BOYER | Highlands Today
August 31, 2011

There are a number of steps elderly Floridians and those who care about them can take to avoid becoming victims of abuse, scams, identity theft and financial exploitation, according to information from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.

Two recent local cases of alleged physical abuse involving an 87-year-old woman and a physically and mentally disabled man at a 24-hour care facility are stark reminders that seniors are vulnerable to harm.
When it comes to identity theft, Elder Affairs officials say seniors should never:

•Carry a Social Security card or multiple credit cards.
•Give personal information over the telephone.
•Print identification numbers on checks.
•Answer unsolicited emails that ask for your personal information.
Seniors should always:
•Remove mail promptly from mailboxes and promptly review statements and bills.
•Shred or cut up personal mail.
•Stop mail before going on vacation.
•Make a copy of all the items in your wallet and keep them with personal papers in a safe place.
•Shop online only with merchants with secure websites. Typically, a lock symbol in the bottom-right corner of a web browser will signal that a site is secure.
•Print checks with initials only and no street address and pick them up at the bank, if possible.
Seniors who are victims of financial crime should report it "to local law enforcement and request a copy of the case report," the Elder Affairs website states.
Contact credit card companies and place fraud alerts on all accounts by calling Equifax at             (800) 525-6285      ; Experian at            (888)397-3742 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (888)397-3742      end_of_the_skype_highlighting      ; and TransUnion at             (800) 680-7729      .
Victims also should report such crimes to the Federal Trade Commission at             1-877-438-4338 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            1-877-438-4338      end_of_the_skype_highlighting       and "immediately contact your bank and close affected accounts." In addition, keep a detailed account of parties you have contacted and save all correspondence.
* * * * *

To avoid being financially exploited, the elderly should have check payments made through direct deposit and never "sign blank checks allowing another person to fill in the amount," the website recommends.
Don't leave money or valuables, and never sign anything you don't understand.
Protect you money by working with your bank to "control who has access to your funds."
Seniors should be aware of possible scams, especially offers from telemarketers.
"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," Elder Affairs officials say. "Be cautious and do not let any caller intimidate you. Don't be afraid to hang up."
Never give anyone your ATM access code, and cancel your ATM card immediately if it is stolen.
Check bank statements to ensure there have been no unauthorized withdrawals, and be cautious regarding joint accounts, given that both parties are equal owners of such accounts.
In addition, build good relationships with financial professionals "who handle your money."
* * * * *
Seniors should take care when it comes to transactions involving home repair, officials say.
Always compare estimates carefully and remember the lowest bid or price is not always the best deal.
"Never agree to get your own permits; this will make you directly responsible for everything," officials warn.
Don't let anyone pressure you into making hasty decisions and don't accept an offer "to take you to the bank to withdraw money for any reason."
"Never fall for phone or door-to-door offers of free estimates, home inspections or 'special deals' of any kind" and "never pay cash," officials add.
In addition, don't pay for unfinished work "or jobs that have not been inspected."
* * * * *
"No one has the right to hit you, to treat you like a child or to humiliate you," the Elder Affairs website states.
Abuse of the elderly and disabled is a rare but persistent problem in Highlands County, says Laurie Murphy, the resource development director at NU-HOPE Elder Care Services Inc., a Sebring nonprofit that advocates for those 60 and older in Highlands and Hardee counties.
But "any occurrence is too much, and … we need to be aware of it," Murphy said.
Physical signs of abuse can include cuts, puncture wounds, burns, bruises, welts, dehydration or malnutrition, poor coloration, soiled clothing or bedclothes, or the lack of food, water, utilities and other necessities.
Abused seniors also may display behavioral signs of abuse like fear, anxiety, agitation, anger, isolation, withdrawal, depression, non-responsiveness, resignation, ambivalence, contradictory statements and implausible stories.
Seniors also might hesitate to talk openly about being abused and be confused or disoriented.
Those who suspect any kind of abuse should call the 24-hour Elder Affairs elder abuse hotline at             (800) 962-2873       and report their suspicions.

SOURCE:    Tampa Online

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Police Warn Online Scammers Target Elderly People (AUSTRALIA)

Police warn online scammers target elderly people
By Kim Lyell
August 30, 2011

Police say online and telephone scammers are targeting senior citizens because they are accessible and hold a large portion of Australia's wealth.
Officers say a two-day conference that begins in Brisbane today, 'Protecting Seniors from Modern Threats', will discuss the devastating impact of scamming on elderly people.
Police say financial crimes against seniors such as online and telephone scams costs the Australian economy millions of dollars each month.
They say Australians are still sending $10 million a month to the Nigerian and Guyana scams, with the majority of victims are elderly.
Fraud squad Detective Superintendent Brian Hay says the Australian-first conference will look at ways to protect seniors from modern threats.
"Catching the crook is not the best form of protection - it's actually providing our communities with the information they need to protect themselves," he said.

"All these crimes can be prevented.
"What we want to focus on is how we make Australia such an informed and aware community so the crooks will go somewhere else because it's too hard to find a victim in our country."
Superintendent Hay says the elderly are often too embarrassed to admit they have been ripped off.

"They're reluctant to come forward and even put their hand up to the fact that they've lost all this money, so they suffer in silence," he said.
"We see constant scenarios of breakdowns in relationships, families, long-life friends, being separated, bankruptcy, businesses being lost, depression, thoughts of suicide - it's a really sad story," he said.


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Elder Abuse Bill Sparked by L.A. Victim Headed to Governor (LA. USA)

Elder Abuse Bill Sparked by L.A. Victim Headed to Governor
Bill  by Sen. Pavley would add protections and increase penalties.
August 30, 2011

Nine months ago, Liz Sanders of Woodland Hills had never been to the State Capitol. She had no idea who her state senator was, or what it might take to enact legislation. What she did know was that she had to do something to protect other families from the abuse that devastated her family. “My mother was preyed upon by her in-home caregiver. She was fleeced out of her life savings,” said Sanders. “I knew I had to do something to prevent another family from suffering this kind of heartbreak, but I didn’t know where to begin.” 
Sanders said she started calling lawmakers. “And Senator Pavley was the only one who listened to me and decided to take action.” Now, due in large part to Liz’s passion and tenacity, Senator Pavley’s bill that aims to crack down on elder abuse is headed to the governor’s desk.

“The physical and financial abuse of elder and dependent adults is an insidious and growing problem in California,” said Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). “When Ms. Sanders called my office and explained what happened to her mother, it just made sense to pursue legislation.”

Sanders has flown to Sacramento several times to testify in support of Pavley’s SB 586, which passed the Senate today. The bill would double penalties for elder and dependent adult abuse and would impose new regulations for the issuance of so called “signature stamps.”
“A $20 signature stamp cost my mother three-quarters of a million dollars and left her in financial ruin,” said Sanders. “It simply shouldn’t be this easy.”
Banks issue signature stamps to elderly or disabled adults who are unable to physically get into a banking branch. Senator Pavley’s SB 586 would create a new framework for the issuance of these signature stamps, including requiring that a bank employee witness and sign all requests for new signature stamps. Banks would also be required to give customers information on the risks associated with the loss or misuse of the stamps. Pavley’s bill would also double the penalties for physical and financial elder abuse. The increase in fines would be allocated to Adult Protective Services in the county where the abuse occurred.

“I’m hopeful Governor Brown will sign this important piece of legislation,” said Senator Pavley. “This bill establishes some basic and common sense protections of one particular financial instrument that can be easily used to drain vast sums of money and assets.”

SOURCE:     StudioCity.Patch


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