Archive for the ‘Washington D.C.’ Category

City Seeks Guardianship for 9-1-1 ‘Super User’

November 17, 2013

Unsure how to curb frequent 911 calls by a system “super user,” Washington, D.C., officials met earlier this year to discuss a solution. Their decision: Seek a guardianship to handle the woman’s medical affairs.

Their guardianship petition alleges the woman, Martha Rigsby, 58, has bipolar and borderline personality disorders, the Washington Post reports. A guardian may not be able to stop Rigsby’s calls, but he or she could hire a home health aide to help her, for example, or could recommend a different living arrangement.

Rigsby has dialed 911 more than any other Washington, D.C., resident, the story says. She began making the calls in 1977; in the past year, 266 calls have been placed because of her fainting spells or falls. About 40 percent of the time she makes her own calls for help; bystanders placed the other calls after seeing her fall. About 55 percent of the time, she declines to get in the ambulance.

Other cities have tried similar measures.

The city of San Francisco, for example, sought conservatorships for as many as a dozen frequent 911 callers each year during a pilot program to curb super users.

Rigsby is fighting the guardianship petition with the help of a court-appointed lawyer. The case has been delayed until January to allow for a neuropsychological evaluation.

City Seeks Guardianship for 911 ‘Super User’

Senate Panel Advances Older Americans Act

November 4, 2013

A Senate committee today advanced legislation by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, which supports Meals on Wheels and other services for the country’s rapidly-growing population of seniors.

The 5-year reauthorization sent to the Senate floor by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was cosponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman, and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the ranking member. Sanders chairs the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging.

First passed by Congress in 1965, the Older Americans Act provides essential services for seniors like nutrition programs, job training, caregiver support, transportation, preventive health services and protection from abuse and financial exploitation.

Sanders made the case that Older Americans Act programs are a good investment. “We can feed a senior for an entire year for the cost of one day in a hospital,” he said. One study found that for every $1 in federal spending on Meals on Wheels, there is as much as a $50 return in Medicaid savings alone. Another program to prevent falls, the leading cause of injuries for people 65 and older, has been credited with reducing accidents and yielding savings on costly hospital and nursing home care.

As baby boomers age, the senior population in America has grown dramatically. Since 2006, the last year in which the Older Americans Act was reauthorized, there has been a 20 percent increase in the U.S. population of people 60 years old or older.

But inflation-adjusted spending on Older Americans Act programs has not kept pace. “All states are serving more seniors in need with less money,” Sanders said. “I strongly believe we should devote considerably more funding to these programs.”

Sanders said he is pleased that this bill has the strong support of more than 50 organizations representing the voices of tens of millions of Americans, including AARP, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the National Council on Aging, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Meals on Wheels Association of America.

“In the year 2013, in the United States of America, seniors should not be worried about how they will get their next meal. They should not be forced to choose between paying their electric bills or buying their medications. They should have the supports available to them to remain in their homes and communities. American seniors deserve to live with dignity and with a sense of security, and the Older Americans Act helps to provide that,” Sanders said.

Full Article and Source:
Senate Panel Advances Older Americans Act

Meet Brenda Kelley-Nelum, A Champion for Seniors (and NASGA Legislative Liaison!)

September 30, 2013

Brenda Kelley-Nelum, a loyal AARP volunteer, is a champion for senior citizens. She has been a longtime activist for standing up and protecting seniors from abuse and wrongdoings. A Washington D.C native, Brenda attended public school before they were integrated. In 1954, her 7th grade year, she went from a small six room elementary school to the quite large Eastern High School. The transformation she said is unforgettable. Brenda continued her education and received a BA from Howard University.

Brenda’s career consisted of being a federal auditor for the inspector general and a financial representative for the National Council of Senior Citizens now called Senior Service America.  She worked extensively with the Virginia Leadership Institute getting citizens in the Prince William area involved in the community through becoming members of state and local commissions. For fun, Brenda does different community service projects like planning an event educating people on healthy soul food cooking through the zeta chi omega chapter of her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. With over 100 attendants, some of the guests included the state President of AARP, a state senator, and a city council member. In her spare time Brenda, enjoys using Facebook and Twitter to keep up with friends and family.

Brenda first got involved with AARP to advocate for a new healthcare system. She saw AARP being criticized for supporting the Medicare Part D prescription drug legislation. Watching citizens in Richmond publicly destroying their AARP membership cards pushed Brenda into action; she thought “shouldn’t these people be working with AARP in order to have their concerns fought for?” and with that, she got involved. She felt that AARP was committed to seeing healthcare reform to the very end and she wanted to be a part of that—regardless of the flack she might receive from friends and neighbors.

Brenda mostly works with AARP on healthcare issues but she is a big advocate for doing more to combat elder abuse; a cause AARP is deeply concerned about. Brenda has been very vocal about elders being abused by those in trusted with their guardianship and would like to see the issue have more light shed upon it. Brenda would like to see AARP working on more of a micro level in order to be more responsive to every senior’s needs and concerns.

Meet Brenda Kelley-Nelum – A Champion for Seniors

D.C. lawyer gets harsher penalty for lying in discipline hearings

July 16, 2013

A lawyer who convinced a District of Columbia bar discipline hearing committee that she was truthful about events from several years earlier had less credibility in a subsequent hearing by the Board on Professional Responsibility and ultimately, on Thursday, when the D.C. Court of Appeals upheld the Board.

Stephanie Y. Bradley’s “intentional falsehood” turned out to be an aggravating factor for the board’s decision, upheld by the appeals court (PDF), to suspend her from the practice of law for two years.

The initial hearing committee, though believing Bradley’s explanation on some key points, had found her ethical lapses sufficient to recommend 90 days. She had previously received three formal admonitions.

The suspension concerned Bradley’s failures as a court-appointed guardian for two persons. From 1999 until 2004, she represented the interests of a man with developmental disabilities who was hospitalized with head trauma, until she could have him moved to a nursing home; and from 1999 until 2004, she represented the interests of an elderly and infirm woman.

Though claiming she regularly visited the man at the nursing home, Bradley was shown to have largely ignored him for nine years, having filed only three of the required semi-annual reports with the superior court and ignoring calls and letters from the man’s family in Texas, who wanted to move him closer to them. In 2004, the family got another lawyer to initiate the move and filed a bar complaint against Bradley.

While guardian for the woman, Bradley failed to prevent a purported family friend and caretaker from embezzling between $200,000 and $250,000 from her bank account and failed to file for a payout from a life insurance policy and for a civil-service lump sum benefit due the woman.
In 2003, another lawyer represented the woman in removing Bradley from her care, then sued Bradley and recovered more than $400,000.

Full Article and Source:
D.C. lawyer gets harsher penalty for lying in discipline hearings

Financial Elder Abuse

July 10, 2013

DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG

Supreme Court rules Drug Companies exempt from Lawsuits

July 9, 2013

Drug companies failed to warn patients
that toxic epidermal necrolysis was a side effect.
 But the Supreme Court ruled they’re still
 not liable for damages.

July 7, 2013. Washington. In case readers missed it with all the coverage of the Trayvon Martin murder trial and the Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage and the Voting Rights Act, the US Supreme Court also made a ruling on lawsuits against drug companies for fraud, mislabeling, side effects and accidental death. From now on, 80 percent of all drugs are exempt from legal liability.

In a 5-4 vote, the US Supreme Court struck down a lower court’s ruling and award for the victim of a pharmaceutical drug’s adverse reaction. According to the victim and the state courts, the drug caused a flesh-eating side effect that left the patient permanently disfigured over most of her body. The adverse reaction was hidden by the drug maker and later forced to be included on all warning labels. But the highest court in the land ruled that the victim had no legal grounds to sue the corporation because its drugs are exempt from lawsuits.

Full Article and Source:
Supreme Court rules Drug Companies exempt from Lawsuits

Seniors with dementia express themselves, connect with others in drumming circle

June 23, 2013

Standing in a room full of lined faces, Alan Yello­witz held up an orange drum shaped like a wineglass. “This one’s called a djembe,” he said. “It’s from Ghana.”

The 30 or so people watching him had, combined, amassed hundreds of years of living, although their recollection of those years was fading. Many stared off blankly, perhaps unable to remember what Ghana is. But one 85-year-old woman started tapping her hand on her thigh.

“Give it a try,” Yellowitz said, quickly placing a three-foot-high drum beside her and handing her a mallet.

Yellowitz and his business partner, Adam Mason, are the guys behind The Beat Goes On, a Fairfax County-based organization that brings drum circles — more commonly associated with college campuses and hippie gatherings — to seniors.

On a recent day, they unpacked about 60 percussion instruments in an activities room at Arden Courts Memory Care Community in Annandale, a residence for people with dementia — including many who have Alzheimer’s disease. The collection featured a “talking drum” from Senegal with strings on the sides that can be used to create a “wah-wah” effect, an “ocean drum” that sounded like crashing waves, and an array of wooden spoons, coconut shells and tambourines.

As they bantered with the residents, Yellowitz and Mason handed out drums and mallets and affixed lightweight drum heads to walkers. “We turn walkers into drum sets all the time,” Mason assured them, and soon everyone had something to beat on.

Full Article and Source:
Seniors with dementia express themselves, connect with others in drumming circle

Regulators Try to Stop Financial Abuse of Seniors

June 18, 2013

WASHINGTON –Two federal regulators are teaming up to help prevent financial exploitation of the elderly.

A new curriculum developed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau aims to help the elderly avoid being subject to financial scams and frauds.

Seniors are considered easy targets for predators, the regulators say. Insurance company MetLife MET +2.12%has found that older Americans lose $2.9 billion a year due to financial abuse.

Known as “Money Smart for Older Adults” the curriculum  is designed to teach seniors and their care-givers about financial scams.  It is also designed to ensure that older adults plan for a future in which they lose the capability to make financial decisions.

Officials envision the 2 1/2-hour curriculum being taught by providers of services to seniors as well as bank employees. It covers issues including veterans scams, identify theft, medical identify theft, scams involving reverse mortgages, planning for unexpected events and disaster planning.

Earlier this year, the CFPB found in a report that seniors are often confused by a wide array of professional titles designed to convey financial expertise.

Seniors, family members and care-givers should be wary of signs of financial abuse, said Richard Cordray, the agency’s director.

“Sometimes the indicators are obvious:  funds disappearing from accounts, bills that go unpaid, belongings that are missing,” Mr. Cordray said. “Sometimes they are more subtle, such as electronic or ATM withdrawals that fly under the radar or a new friend or acquaintance showing up with power of attorney or being added on a joint account.”

Full Article and Source:
Regulators Try to Stop Financial Abuse of Seniors

Editorial: D.C. Council Still Stalling on Elder Abuse

May 21, 2013

Last March, the daughter of the late D.C. Councilwoman Hilda Mason told the Office on Aging’s Elder Abuse Prevention Committee that even her politically connected mother and multimillionaire stepfather became victims of neglect and financial exploitation at the hands of court-approved “conservators” who pilfered their fortune while forcing them to live in squalor.

The District’s Adult Protective Services failed to protect her parents and still fails to protect vulnerable seniors, Carolyn Nicholas, president of Advocates for Elder Justice, testified.

As The Washington Examiner reported last year, Nicholas has been pleading with current council members to amend the Adult Protective Services Act to bring the District law in line with other states’ best practices. But they’re still dragging their feet.

In February, Council member Marion Barry, D-Ward 8, introduced a bill in memory of his old friend and political ally. The Charles and Hilda Mason Elder Abuse Clarification and Expansion Act of 2013 clarifies the definition of elder abuse and increases the penalties for preying on vulnerable seniors.

Guardians or conservators are only supposed to be appointed for people who do not have other plans in place when they become physically or mentally incapacitated. But D.C. Superior Court judges have overridden seniors’ wishes, assigning “representatives” to people who have already designated a family member, friend or attorney to handle their affairs when they became frail or incapacitated.

Court-appointed guardians and conservators have total control over their wards’ persons and property, but some are completely unsupervised, with no requirement to submit to outside audits or even file periodic accountings with the court for how they spent assets it took a lifetime to accumulate.

With such absolute power and little or no oversight by the courts or the city, abuse is inevitable. “Many court-appointed attorneys, guardians and/or conservators have in fact become nothing more than predators,” Nicholas told The Examiner.

Barry’s bill, which has been co-sponsored by Council members Anita Bonds, D-at large, Yvette Alexander, D-Ward 7, and Jim Graham, D-Ward 1, would make financial abuse of the elderly a felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison, and allow elderly victims to sue for restitution. It would also prevent those convicted of exploiting seniors by “deception, intimidation, misrepresentation, fraud or undue influence” from inheriting their victims’ estates.

Full Editorial and Source:
D.C. Council Still Stalling on Elder Abuse

Aging and Abuse

May 14, 2013

The most recent estimates suggest 1 in 10 seniors are abused, neglected or exploited, and that has serious implications for individuals and communities. Victims of elder abuse are much more likely to end up in hospitals and nursing homes. Seniors lose almost $3 billion a year due to financial exploitation, which leaves them vulnerable and dependent on government or family assistance.

With an aging population, elder abuse is only expected to increase, and social service agencies are often not able to keep up. In this five-part series, we look at the complexities of elder abuse in the D.C. region and why the problem is so difficult to address.

The day Jeannie Beidler came home to find her grandparents decaying in their own waste was the saddest day of her life. This type of situation is not as uncommon as one would think.

Elderly Couple’s Tale of Abuse Not So Uncommon

Social workers with Adult Protective Services are a front-line defense against elder abuse, but the economic downturn has been tough on the agency. At a time when their workloads have increased exponentially, budget cuts have hit hard.

The Uphill Battle to End Elderly Abuse

Who do you turn to when you have a complaint about a nursing home? The answer to that question differs from state to state — but one of the options for many families are ombudsman programs. They deal with more than 157,000 nursing home complaints each year, on topics large and small.

Tackling Nursing Home Complaints With OmbudsmanPrograms
Financial exploitation of seniors is a problem that’s estimated to cost nearly $3 billion per year. Now, some states — including Maryland — are trying to put a stop to that abuse. Why is this exploitation so hard to spot? Here is a cautionary tale of one elderly woman who was allegedly defrauded by someone she knew from her church.

Financial Exploitation of Elderly Difficult to Detect

House calls serve as the first line of defense against elder abuse and neglect. Doctors, nurse practitioners and social workers can watch how patients interact with caregivers and see their surroundings.

House Calls a Better Option for Some Seniors

Series Source:  Aging and Abuse