Friday, April 3, 2009

Elder Abuse

One of my absolute hot buttons is when someone steals from an elderly person who cannot protect himself. Friday April 3, 2009, I appeared in such a case.

Five years ago, “Momma” (then in her late 80’s) had progressed to the point that she needed to live where she could be cared for – at first an “Adult Living Facility” (Assisted Living) and now skilled nursing care in a nursing home.

Five years ago ‘Momma’ was comfortable, financially. She had an annual income of $24,000; she needed $50,000 to take care of her needs and care. Her assets were almost $500,000.00 which, at $2300 per month, would have lasted over 25 years – much longer than her lifespan.

Today in court all we could determine was left was $22,000.00. Less than 5% of what was there five years ago.

I had obtained some bank and other financial records for the 15 months (back to January 2008) and reviewing that period I found that “someone” had used Momma’s debit card to the tune of $83,450.00 (that’s over $5500 per month) for such “necessities” as:
  • Cell Phones
  • Models – as in model cars, planes, etc.
  • Motels and restaurants within a 200 mile radius of here, including Dollywood
  • Booze at the ABC store
  • A membership in (she's now in her 90's!)
My role was to report to the court and protect “Momma’s” interests. I was fully prepared to do so and be “Rossiferous” in my approach to the daughter who had Momma’s power of attorney, and even more so to the daughter’s husband who also had access to Momma’s money. (By the way, husband claims there may be some identity theft – why, over 15 months, did they not notice that money was disappearing?)

I didn’t get a chance. Hizzoner the judge beat me to it. His questions were to the point and emphasized the pillage of Momma’s money. All I did was pitch the ball; he hit the homeruns.

Elder financial abuse happens every day to too many seniors. I’ve seen it too much. I’m happy to report the judge I was before today gets it, as do all the other judges I appear before on a regular basis.

President John F. Kennedy said “A society's quality and durability can best be measured by the respect and care given to its elder citizens."

If you see abuse, call for help. Adult Protective Services is interested. There’s also Elder Abuse Hotlines.