The golden years may not be so golden, but that may not be evident to either the older adults in our society or even those who are relatives or friends of them. The situation is evident in many areas, but many of us have blinders on when thinking about it.
Recently, I happen to meet three neighbors, all sisters on their 80s who live in an apartment building near me. I asked if they were going to attend the local healthfare which was being advertised on the town’s internet website.
“We don’t have a computer,” the eldest of the group said to me, “so we don’t know when it is being held or where to go.” It was something the town had failed to consider just as they had failed to consider how to contact people when the electricity went out in storms. The internet did not work and not all elderly have cable TV or cell phones. Are they being forgotten, marginalized or what?
Fortunately, the building in which they live is also home to a niece, her husband and their daughter, so they do have a pretty good support system, if they need it. But even these relatives could not protect them from falling into the clutches of the unscrupulous who are out there trolling for elderly victims under the guise of assisting them.
Beware the “assistors.” Eldercare is lucrative and not always difficult to manage in terms of getting a “certificate” or some form of verification that they’re “qualified.” They’re not always who you are led to believe they are.
These situations are minor when compared to what a writer for The New Yorker just revealed.
One couple living in their own home in Nevada suddenly found themselves deprived of their rights, their property and at the mercy of someone they didn’t know and whose services they didn’t need.
“Without realizing it, the Norths had become temporary wards of the court. Parks had filed an emergency ex-parte petition, which provides an exception to the rule that both parties must be notified of any argument before a judge. She had alleged that the Norths posed a “substantial risk for mismanagement of medications, financial loss and physical harm.” She submitted a brief letter from a physician’s assistant, whom Rennie had seen once, stating that “the patient’s husband can no longer effectively take care of the patient at home as his dementia is progressing.” She also submitted a letter from one of Rudy’s doctors, who described him as “confused and agitated.”
How did it happen and were they alone in this bizarre turn of events? Obviously not. Judges, psychiatrists, physicians, court clerks, social workers and “certified” guardians were all active in this scheme.
The couple’s home and car were sold, they were forced to leave their home with one suitcase and told, if they didn’t immediately leave to go to a residence the guardian had selected for them, they would be arrested. If that happened, they would be strapped into an ambulance and taken forcibly. Their daughter couldn’t get in touch with them because she didn’t know where they were but she persisted. They had a strong advocate, but how many elderly do?
Their new “guardian” even changed their medical care to a physician who prescribed “Valium, Prozac, the sedative Temazepam, Oxycodone, and Fentanyl.” Did the man need it? Highly questionable. IMHO it sounds like a deadly combination. One elderly person was prescribed Haldol which has now been seen as contributing to sudden death in the elderly. It IS INADVISABLE TO PRESCRIBE IT TO THEM.
Thinking about it, I recalled the rather infamous case of the heiress Huguette Clark who lived, for years, in NYC’s Beth Israel Hospital, but without a diagnosis, before she died at 104. I’m sure the hospital will disagree with that statement.
This “without a diagnosis” business brought back the memory of a young woman I saw many years ago in a clinic setting. She had been living for three years at a major NY hospital but without a diagnosis. When I asked what her diagnosis was, I was told, “We’re meeting today to decide that.” Today? She’d been there for three years and she didn’t have a diagnosis?
Huguette Clark, was an extremely wealthy, elderly woman, who collected dolls, and who had only a nurse, servants and aides (plus a lawyer and accountant) to attend to her needs, she had huge mansions, apartments and condos in New York City, California and Connecticut. Most of them had not been lived in or visited in decades but they were maintained for her use. If you want to read about it, pick up a copy of “Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune.”
A nurse and two physician were sued for having accepted “gifts” in excess of $3million from the elderly woman as she was in her room in the hospital. I believe her accountant may have had his legal problems related to the estate, too.
How can anyone lose their right to freedom and to living their life as they wish if they are senior citizens in the USA? In some states, it appears it was relatively easy for any grifter with a bit of court knowledge who could easily slip the person’s entire life from beneath them and have them shuttled off to God only knows where. The grease, of course, was money and it helped in so many ways. Then, of course, there was those easy to obtain “certification” credentials.
Many times, the targets are unaware they are being targeted. It comes from out of the blue without any time to alert friends, relatives or advocates. Ok, now you know it happens and it’s not an isolated instance. Where do you go, what do you do for yourself or someone else?
Here are a few places you can begin your research on the topic:
The Elderly Project
Serving Our Seniors (American Bar Association)