Archive for the ‘Hawaii’ Category

Fighting Financial Abuse

July 4, 2013

The frustrations of financial abuse for the elderly received help from the Governor today.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 102 to amend a section in the Hawaii Revised Statutes relating to the reporting of elderly financial abuse. The most significant change is for financial institutions to report possible abuse to state human services as well as county police. The original statute required reports only to human services. Immediately after receiving a report, police must begin a criminal investigation.

“It’s gonna fill a gap that’s really needed,” Honolulu Police Department Lieutenant John McCarthy said. “We’re seeing an explosion in elder financial fraud cases. It’s really sad because these people lose real dollars. There’s no one to replace it. There’s nowhere to replace it. We have to get out to these complaints immediately to try and track the money and save or recover what’s there.”

“WE’RE SEEING IT EVERYWHERE”

After a case gets reported to the county police department, they then contact the prosecutor’s office to work on the report and take it to trial. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Scott Spallina explained that these fraud incidents are not only originating in Hawai`i.

“Unfortunately we’re seeing it everywhere,” Spallina said. “It’s not just a local crime. We have criminals coming from the mainland praying on our local victims here – our local kupuna – and taking the money out of state. It’d be one thing if they committed crimes here and the money stayed here but no, they’re taking it out of state – not only to the mainland but also Nigeria – other countries where the law is not as strict as they are here.”

Full Article and Source:
Fighting Financial Abuse

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Brain Injury Survivors Help Each Other Recover

December 27, 2012

More than two million Americans sustain brain injuries each year. There are few programs in Hawaii that help patients transition from hospital and acute care into the community, but we found one that helped change them – right before our very eyes.

Through the Brain Injury Association of Hawaii, transformation happens. 56 year old Carl Debo is teaching 22 year old Consolacion “Ching” Mongco to swim.

The pair couldn’t be more different. Carl is an attorney and former teacher. Ching is former college student. The two were brought together by both hardship and hope.

Three years ago, Carl suffered a stroke. Everyday life as he knew it would never be the same. He became introverted, and finding the right words can still be difficult. He was slow to respond in our interview.

Around the same time in 2009, Ching left a party with her ex-boyfriend who she says had been drinking. They got in his car. He started racing another driver, lost control, and flipped. Ching was badly hurt. “I was in a coma for, like, one month,” she said. She still uses a crutch to walk.

When Ching and Carl heard about a pilot program for people suffering from brain injuries, they applied. Hawaii has little out there to help survivors transition into the mainstream.

“It will give us something to have a structured program after brain injuries, relearning. So relearning how to talk, relearning how to communicate, social skills, you know, our brain controls everything,” said Mary Wilson, the Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Hawaii.

1.7 million Americans sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBI) each year, according to the Brain Injury Association of America, and almost 800,000 have acquired brain injury from non-traumatic causes. More than three million have lifelong disabilities due to TBI, and 1.1 million have a disability due to stroke.

Full Article and Source:
Brain Injury Survivors Help Each Other Recover
See Also:
Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network

Care Home Operator Gets One-Year Prison Term for Exploitation

February 29, 2012

The Honorable Judge Richard Pollack sentenced an Oahu woman to a one-year prison term for her part in a financial exploitation scam that cost an 84-year old Oahu man more than $200,000.

Nora Bell, 46, of Ewa Beach, ran the “Classic Residential Care Home” on Hookele Street in Waianae. The victim, who suffers from age related dementia, entered the care home in 2004. Over a one-year period beginning in April 2007 and as the victim’s dementia worsened, Bell and an accomplice, Joel Tacras, carried out a scheme to systematically withdraw cash from the victim’s bank accounts, and redeem his treasury bonds, all without his knowledge. By July 2008, Bell had taken nearly all of the victim’s savings and cashed in his treasury bonds.

Full Article and Source:
Care Home Operator Gets One-Year Prison Term for Exploiting One of Her Residents

Assisted Suicide – A Recipe for Elder Abuse

November 11, 2011

Next November, Massachusetts voters will decide via ballot initiative whether to allow physician-assisted suicide. The Death with Dignity Act is modeled closely on an initiative passed by Washington State voters in 2008. In states that have taken up these laws, pro-life groups, religious groups, and advocates for the disabled have fought them. Massachusetts is a heavily Catholic state, and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston called the act “a corruption of the medical profession that violates the Hippocratic Oath.”

National Right to Life calls the proposed Massachusetts act “a recipe for elder abuse.” Key provisions of the act include that an heir, who will benefit financially from a patient’s death, is allowed to actively help sign the patient up for the lethal dose.

In the United States, assisted suicide is legal only in Washington and Oregon. In both states, the law was enacted through a ballot initiative. In 2010, the Montana Supreme Court’s Baxter decision did not legalize assisted suicide but gave physicians, if prosecuted, a potential defense. A law that would have allowed assisted suicide in Montana went down to defeat in February.

In addition to Massachusetts, pro-euthanasia activists are currently mobilizing in Hawaii and Vermont.

Full Article and Source:
Assisted Suicide – A Recipe for Elder Abuse

Lawmakers Asked to Tighten Laws on Financial Abuse of the Elderly

November 5, 2011

State law requires that cases of suspected physical abuse of the elderly must be reported to law enforcement, but there is no such requirement in cases of suspected financial abuse, legislators were told today.

Banks or other financial institutions must report those suspicions to the state office of Adult Protective Services, which is not a law enforcement agency and is not equipped to conduct a criminal investigation, said Patricia McManaman, director of the state Department of Human Services.

McManaman, whose department includes the Adult Protective Services office, said the original version of the law on elderly financial exploitation required financial institutions to report their suspicions to both APS and law enforcement.

But before the final version of the law was enacted, it was changed to remove law enforcement notification, said McManaman.

As search of the legislative history of the measure did not disclose the reasons for the deletion, she said, adding that she suspected lobbyists for the financial industry may have sought the change.

Because victims may suffer from medical and mental conditions, said the prosecutor, the sooner the cases can be investigated, the better the chances of a successful outcome.

Full Article and Source:
Lawmakers Asked to Tighten Laws on Financial Abuse of the Elderly

Coma Mom Defies the Odds After Devestating Accident

September 16, 2011

Shelli Eldredge’s dream vacation nearly killed her.

After a moped accident in Hawaii broke nearly 50 of her bones, fractured her skull, snapped her spine and left her in a coma, doctors didn’t have much hope for her recovery. One recommended stopping life support.

But her husband, Dr. Stephen Eldredge, couldn’t give up.

“We made the decision we were going to move forward at all costs,” he said.

Then Shelli defied the odds — after about a month in a coma, she woke up and started speaking. She’s now back home in Utah, talking and walking with assistance. She’s working hard in physical therapy three times a week with the goal of returning to her active life.

Full Article, Video and Source:
Coma Mom Defies the Odds After Devestating Accident

Death With Dignity Act May Face Amendment

July 16, 2011

Western psychology professor Ethan Remmel lived with incurable cancer for more than a year. He underwent 10 months of chemotherapy, which caused fatigue and sickness that were hard to bear. He rarely felt like himself. Whenever he stopped treatment, he faced unyielding pain, said Grace Wang, Remmel’s partner and associate professor of environmental studies at Huxley College of the Environment.

At his home on June 13, Remmel ended his life under Washington state’s Death with Dignity Act. The law allows people who are terminally ill to take lethal pills prescribed by their doctors.

Remmel’s family, friends, colleagues and students came together on June 28 for a memorial at Zuanich Point Park in Squalicum Harbor. They shared stories, listened to some of Remmel’s favorite songs and read some of his favorite poems. It was his birthday. He would have turned 42.

Since taking effect on March 5, 2009, 152 people have received lethal medication under the law, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

Washington’s law is similar to one enacted by Oregon voters in 1997. Oregon was the first state to allow people with terminal illnesses to ask their doctors for lethal medication. Lawmakers in Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Hawaii are considering similar measures.

Death with Dignity Act
Nearly 58 percent of Washington state voters in the 2008 election voted in favor of the Death with Dignity Act.

The law lets people living with deadly illnesses maintain some level of control over their lives, said Robb Miller, executive director of Compassion and Choices of Washington. The nonprofit organization supports terminally ill people seeking to end their lives.

“For some patients, having control improves the quality of life at the end of life,” Miller said.

Eileen Geller, a registered nurse and president of True Compassion Advocates, a Seattle-based nonprofit corporation that promotes awareness and prevention of suicide and assisted suicide, said providing lethal medications to ill people or seniors might pressure them to choose death simply to avoid being a burden or financial burden to loved ones.

“This act ends up steering some people toward assisted suicide,” Geller said. “The solution is to create compassionate, practical and helpful resources, not hand them lethal medications.”

The term “assisted suicide” is controversial among supporters of Washington’s law. Compassion and Choices prefers the term “aid in dying.”

The Death with Dignity Act does not constitute assisted suicide, according to the text of the law. State reports are not allowed to use the term.

Washington State Senate Bill 5378, introduced during the Senate’s most recent legislative session but never brought to a vote, would require doctors to list assisted suicide as the cause of death for people who choose to end their lives under the law. Sen. Margarita Prentice, a Democrat from Renton, Wash., is the primary sponsor.

Although the bill stalled during the most recent legislative session, it could be reintroduced in the future, according to Senate rules.

Currently, when a person dies of assisted suicide in Washington, doctors are required to list a person’s underlying terminal illness on the death certificate. In Oregon, death with dignity is listed as the cause of death.

Miller said listing assisted suicide as a cause of death would make it easier for extremists opposed to the Death with Dignity Act to search public death records to find and target doctors who prescribe life-ending medication.

Full Article and Source:
Death With Dignity Act May Face Amendment

>Hawaii: Assisted Suicide Bill Fails

February 14, 2011

>After citing numerous examples of loved ones who outlived a doctor’s terminal diagnosis or of their own victory over suicidal depression, opponents of a proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Hawaii applauded as a Senate committee defeated the measure last night.

The Senate Health Committee heard more than 4 1/2 hours of often-emotional public testimony before voting 4-0 to hold the bill in committee.

“After considering the large body of testimony presented to us, I have determined that community sentiment here today has been overwhelmingly opposed to moving this measure forward in its present form,” said Sen. Josh Green, committee chairman. “There is truly compelling testimony on both sides of this matter — for and against — but from my perspective, for an issue of this magnitude, I believe we need to have more agreement as a community.

“So for now we need to find other ways to support those dealing with end-of-life decisions, with the greatest possible compassion and respect.”

Senate Bill 803 would have allowed a terminally ill, competent adult to receive medication to end life. The bill specifically prohibits mercy killings, lethal injections and active euthanasia, and requires patients to receive informed consent.

Full Article and Source:
Assisted Suicide Bill Stalls

‘Josie May’ to Reunite With Family

September 12, 2010

Ethel May Helmbright is considered an “ariki” back in New Zealand, a person of high regard to the Maori people. She was the last of her generation, the last living member of eight brothers and sisters who abruptly set off for Alaska three decades ago.

How she ended up homeless on the streets of Waikiki for 10 years — confused, unwilling to accept help and unable to even remember her own name — might remain a mystery forever.

But the bigger question is how the gaunt and frail woman known in Honolulu as “Josie May Bright” will adjust to life back home in New Zealand, reunited with a family she cannot recall.

“She’s confused,” said her court-appointed Hawaii guardian, Roger Petticord. “She doesn’t understand what’s happening.”

The Hawaii Office of the Public Guardian has handled “Jane Doe” cases before, but nothing like the mystery of 83-year-old Josie May Bright, Petticord said.

“This one’s unique,” he said.

Full Article and Source:
‘Josie May’ to Reunite With Family

Financial Exploitation Using Power of Attorney

February 20, 2010

A trusting 82-year-old ‘Aiea man is struggling to restore his financial footing after giving away his durable power of attorney to a female acquaintance who used it to raid his bank account and obtain credit cards and a reverse mortgage that plunged him into staggering debt.

Friends who are helping the elderly man said cash losses and new debt from years of financial exploitation could top $750,000, with no guarantee of getting any of it back.

The ‘Aiea man’s predicament, now under investigation by the state Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services, is an example of how powers of attorney — used since ancient times to allow individuals to act on behalf of others in business transactions and other affairs — have become a license to steal from the elderly.

Most often the thieves are relatives or caregivers who take advantage of a senior’s poor health or diminished mental capacity to gain control of bank accounts, homes and other assets for their own benefit, according to elder law experts and other advocates for the elderly.

“It’s a huge problem,” said Bruce Bottorff, associate state director of AARP. “We continue to do education and outreach because it is so prevalent and, frankly, underreported. People need to be vigilant as the population grows older.”

Full Article and Source:
More Hawaii Seniors Financially Exploited

See Also:
Couple Helping Exploited Widower Pick Up Pieces