Archive for April, 2012

Elder Abuse Remains Hidden Problem as Baby Boomers Reach Old Age

April 30, 2012

Despite the 2010 passage of the Elder Justice Act, policy experts have found that combating widespread abuse of seniors is still not a top priority for care providers and governments alike. As many as one in 10 people age 60 and over are affected by this problem, according to the newest Public Policy & Aging Report (PPAR) from the National Academy on an Aging Society, the policy institute of The Gerontological Society of America. U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) and U.S. Representative Peter King (R-NY), who have been heavily involved in legislation to address elder abuse, contributed introductory statements for the issue.

Elder abuse encompasses mistreatment, neglect, and exploitation of a physical, psychological, or sexual nature. The Elder Justice Act was signed into law as part of 2010’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, yet it has received no appropriations to date.

Full Article and Source:
Elder Abuse Remains Hidden Problem as Baby Boomers Reach Old Age

See Also:
Baby Boomers Beware of Guardianship Abuse

Grandson Gets 2-year Sentence for Plundering Dementia-Stricken Grandfather’s Estate

April 30, 2012

A New York man will serve two years in federal prison for bilking his dementia-stricken grandfather in Greenfield while serving as his court-appointed guardian.

Michael Ostrowski, 42, of East Patchogue, N.Y., also was ordered to serve three years of supervised release, pay more than $185,000 in restitution, and forfeit $179,500 in cash stolen from his grandfather’s estate during a hearing Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

In sentencing the defendant, Judge Michael A. Ponsor also ordered him to forfeit a Sony Bravia flat-panel television; a 39mm semi-automatic assault rifle; and a 2006 GMC Sierra pickup truck, all purchased with the proceeds of his fraud.

In January, Ostrowski pleaded guilty to mail fraud, conspiracy, interstate transportation of stolen property and other charges in a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The maximum penalty for the offenses is 20 years in prison. As part of the deal, Ostrowski agreed to not oppose a sentence of 57 months or less while prosecutors will not challenge a sentence of 46 months or more.

Full Article and Source:
Grandson Gets 2-year Sentence for Plundering Dementia-Stricken Grandfather’s Greenfield Estate

‘Everyday Law for Seniors’

April 29, 2012

Navigating the law as an older adult, or on behalf of one, is a daunting enterprise. Not only are the regulations, requirements and exceptions multitudinous and confusing, but many of them regularly change. What’s the asset limit for those applying for Medicaid reimbursement of nursing home costs? Well, it depends which year you ask.

“Everyday Law for Seniors,” written by two law professors — Lawrence Frolik of the University of Pittsburgh and Linda Whitton of Valparaiso University — guides readers through the maze. The authors take on a variety of common topics (age discrimination, Social Security, housing, pensions, Medicare and other insurance) and offer clear, careful explanations and suggestions. First published in 2010, the book’s just been updated to include the most recent federal benefits numbers.

Even the most helpful book can’t substitute for the individualized advice of an elder attorney, but this one looks very useful for older people and their families.

Full Article and Source:
The Caregiver’s Bookshelf: A Law Guide for Seniors

Washington Economics Group Picks Tallahassee, Fla., as Number One Retirement Destination for Baby Boomers

April 29, 2012

A revealing new analysis of trends and preferences indicates that tens of millions of Baby Boomers searching for the ideal place to retire should look to Southern college towns for the best combination of climate, cost of living, health care and other top priorities, according to a report from The Washington Economics Group (WEG). In the scientific comparisons of 20 prospective ideal “Boomer” retirement communities, Florida’s capital city, Tallahassee, ranks number one in the country.

Full Article and Source:
The Washington Economics Group Picks Tallahassee, Fla., as Number One Retirement Destination for Baby Boomers

NM Lawsuit: Partner Enabled Exploitation

April 29, 2012

Relatives of a former Santa Fe resident declared unable to handle her affairs want her partner to turn over half their joint assets.

Carol Anderson and Judith Shackelford, who lived together for 12 years “with short periods of estrangement,” registered as domestic partners in California and lived in Santa Fe until last year, according to a petition filed in state District Court on Tuesday.

It says the couple owns a house south of Santa Fe (valued by the county assessor at $789,290), a business called Shackelford Associates, two automobiles, a recreational vehicle, other assets and, until recently, a Merrill Lynch account worth $400,000.

In September, Anderson “sent more than $240,000 to persons she had not met who promised to pay her large prize winnings,” says the petition for restitution and division of jointly owned assets. “These funds were expended with the knowledge and active assistance of Judith Shackelford.”

In October, it says, a Santa Fe judge declared Anderson “lacked capacity to enter into contracts or other business” and appointed her relatives Adam Anderson, Alice Wheatley Anderson and Tamara Strachman as guardians and conservators of her estate.

“Subsequent to the appointment,” it says, “Carol Anderson moved with the assistance of Judith Shackelford to Alton, Illinois, without authorization and contrary to the direction of the guardians and conservators. …

“Based upon Judith Shackelford’s history of knowingly acquiescing to the financial exploitation of Carol Anderson, the property and funds held by Judith Shackelford are not likely to be maintained for the future support and maintenance of Carol Anderson.”

The lawsuit asks a judge to order Shackelford to return to the conservators one half of the value of the couple’s assets and to pay attorney fees and expenses.

Full Article and Source:
Lawsuit: Partner Enabled Exploitation

The Oregon Attorney General’s Race and Veteran/Conservatorship Ward Ben Alfano

April 28, 2012

Most of us, I believe, confront the ballot with prism in hand, the imperfect lens through which we measure the quality of the candidates and the relevance of the election.

In the Oregon attorney general’s race between Ellen Rosenblum and Dwight Holton, your prism may be marijuana, prosecutorial passion or John Kroger.

My prism is  Ben Alfano.

In the last two months of the veteran’s life, which I chronicled in February, Alfano was wrenched from the assisted-living facility he loved and dumped in a Gresham dementia-care unit. Alfano died there on Feb. 26, 2011, an especially bitter turn for four of his children, who had complained about conservator and guardianship issues for years.

Those objections were typically met with smug disdain, or worse, by the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and its well-paid bodyguard at the Department of Justice.

When Alfano’s two sons sought a change in conservators, ODVA Director Jim Willis wrote a letter to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., saying Steven Alfano had no legal status in his father’s case, when he, in fact, had Ben’s legal medical power of attorney, and accusing him of a “financial conflict of interest.”

When Alfano’s children sought help from state Rep. Mike Schaufler, D-Happy Valley, Kathy Andreas — ODVA’s conservatorship manager — responded to Steven Alfano’s meticulous detailing of the family’s problems with the agency as follows:

“It obviously took Steven many hours to organize and document his findings. That could explain why he has been spending less time lately with his father.”

There’s more where that came from, believe me.

When the four children looked to the state for help, they discovered that D. Kevin Carlson, one of Kroger’s senior assistants, was not only defending ODVA but billing Ben Alfano’s estate for his legal muscle and expertise.

Over the last two years, Carlson billed the estate more than $45,000. He also recommended in March that a Washington County judge reserve “at least $150,000” of what remains in the veteran’s estate to deal with the children’s federal civil rights’ claims against ODVA and the guardian, Chris Farley.

We have, then, another glaring example of the AG’s office defending state agencies to the extreme even when they’re in the wrong.

Full Article and Source:
Justice and the Oregon Attorney General’s Race Between Dwight Holton and Ellen Rosenblum

See Also:
Following Benjamin Alfano’s Money

Editorial: Nursing Homes May Be Inevitable; Abuse Is Not

April 28, 2012

When I served as special counsel to the U.S. Senate Aging Committee, we investigated fraud and abuse in public assistance programs. Medicaid provided health care to those that could not afford it and Medicare funded seniors’ medical needs. Both systems were rife with corruption and abuse.

Our undercover operations proved that not only was the medical care poor but government programs were being ripped off by unscrupulous providers. When it came to nursing homes, only one, in all we investigated, delivered appropriate care.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Homes May Be Inevitable, Abuse Is Not

Caring for Elderly Parents Catches Many Unprepared

April 28, 2012

Last July, Julie Baldocchi’s mother had a massive stroke and was paralyzed. Baldocchi suddenly had to become a family caregiver, something that she wasn’t prepared for.

“I was flying by the seat of my pants,” says Baldocchi, an employment specialist in San Francisco. Both of her parents are 83, and she knew her father couldn’t handle her mother’s care.

The hospital recommended putting her mother in a nursing home. Baldocchi wasn’t willing to do that. But moving her back into her parents’ home created other problems.

With help from the Family Caregiver Alliance, she eventually hired a live-in caregiver. “But even if you plan intellectually and legally, you’re never ready for the emotional impact,” Baldocchi says. In the first two months after her mother’s stroke, she lost about 30 pounds as stress mounted.

More than 42 million Americans provide family caregiving for an adult who needs help with daily activities, according to a 2009 survey by the AARP. An additional 61.6 million provided at least some care during the year.

And many are unprepared.

Full Article and Source:
Caring for Elderly Parents Catches Many Unprepared

Man Accused of "Milking" Aunt’s Accounts of $500K

April 28, 2012

A Hatfield man has admitted to embezzling more than $500,000 from his elderly aunt for whom he was power of attorney, money he claimed he partly used to attempt to start a music business.

Francis X. Stagliano, 53, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Court to multiple felony charges of theft by unlawful taking or disposition in connection with incidents that occurred between January 2006 and August 2011.

Judge Garrett D. Page deferred sentencing so that court officials can complete a background investigative report about Stagliano, who remains free on bail pending sentencing. Stagliano faces a possible maximum sentence of 17 ½ to 35 years in prison on the charges.

With the charges, prosecutors alleged Stagliano stole money from various bank and investment accounts held by the victim, ranging from $47,356 to $179,882, for a grand total of $504,721, between 2006 and 2011.

Full Article and Source:
Hatfield Man “Milked” Accounts of Elderly Aunt

North Carolina Guardianship Proposal

April 27, 2012

New Hanover County’s Department of Social Services serves as the court-appointed guardian for 66 elderly and disabled people to ensure their health, safety and well being.

On July 1 that number could swell to at least 81, or by 22.7 percent, if a court-ordered plan by the state Department of Health and Human Services is approved by the General Assembly.

Under a draft guardianship proposal, county departments of social services in North Carolina would be tasked with providing or contracting for guardianship for people with mental health issues, developmental disabilities and substance abuse issues.

The guardianship cases previously were handled by state mental health agencies such as the Southeastern Center for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services in Wilmington.

In a statement about the reasoning behind the switch from mental health to DSS for guardianship, DHHS Assistant Secretary Beth Melcher said, “… the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have determined there would be a conflict of interest if these agencies continued to serve as public guardians while also managing the financial aspects of their clients’ care.”

Currently there are 1,691 people across North Carolina who receive guardianship services through the public mental health system. The average annual cost to provide guardianship to each of those people was $2,543.

Full Article and Source:
General Assembly to Consider Guardianship Proposal