TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF ELDER ABUSE

There are many myths and misconceptions about elder abuse.  I challenge you to test your knowledge:

1. It is always best for elderly parents to live with family members. True or False

2. There are always physical signs of elder abuse. True or False

3. Practically all cases of elder abuse are reported to the authorities. True or False

4. If an elderly relative is being abused, all family members will want to know about it and immediately reported it to the authorities. True or False

5. All states and communities are eager to save and protect the elderly from abusive situations. True or False

6. Men are more likely to abuse the elderly. True or False

7. Elder abuse has no financial impact on the economy. True or False

8. If an elder does not complain about being abused, he/she must be okay. True or False

9. It’s unlikely for the wealthy to experience elder abuse in their families. True or False

10 Elder abuse is a concern only for western cultures. True or False

11. Are you able to define “Granny Snatching?”

12. Name at least three warning signs of potential elder abuse.

13. Elder abuse referred to as the _______ crime.

14. All police officers are trained in elder abuse matters. True or False

15. As one gets older, the capacity to make sensible choices and financial decisions diminishes considerably. True or False

16. Most elders are aware when they are being abused. True or False.

I will provide you with the answers next week. As I always mention, please report any incidents of elder abuse to your local authorities. The website for the National Center for Elder Abuse is http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions.

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THE ELDERLY AND BEING NEGLECTED BY THEIR ADULT CHILDREN

As a parent, you remember the day your child first came into your life. Immediately, you start making plans for his/her future, thinking about your dreams for your child and hope that this life you brought into this world would look after you when it is difficult for you to take care of yourself.

Unfortunately, this is not the reality for many of our elderly. Many adult children feel that they are burdened by taking care of their parents and want to find some nursing home to dump them. Each year many of our elderly are neglected by family members and caretakers. Many victims are people who cannot help themselves and depend on others to meet their most basic needs. Nursing magazine found in a study that close to 50% of elder abuse cases are the result of neglect.

According to the Texas Department of Adult and Protective Services, there are cases where they have found anything from people lying in their own feces, those who can’t get out of bed, people who lock up an elderly or a disabled person in a house where he/she can’t get out. In my early 20’s, I worked as a Certified Home Health Aide with the Philadelphia Corporation of Aging. I can remember times walking into a beautiful home and going into the elderly client’s room and finding a room covered in feces, urine-soaked sheets and black walls. The door was closed, of course. My co-workers and I would share our stories and be moved to tears. The tragedy is that these clients were living with their children, not strangers!

Texas Department of Adult and Protective Services (APS) reported 87,487 completed elder abuse investigations last year and confirmed 59,595 victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation statewide. Population projections show Texas likely has more than 2.4 million residents age 65 or older. APS in 2012 reported that nearly 40 percent of those abusing, neglecting or exploiting the elderly during the previous year were the adult children of the victims.

As a result of the opinion that older adults have nothing to contribute, society ignores the importance of an assuring dignified, supportive and loving home environment for every older person. The idea that what happens at home stays at home keeps an older person locked in an abusive or neglectful situation. Many of those who observe or suspect abuse or neglect may fail to get involved because they believe “it’s a family problem and none of my business” or because they are afraid they are misinterpreting a family squabble. Family honor, shame and embarrassment often make it difficult for older persons to report the abuse.

Older individuals who are ethnic minorities, particularly recent immigrants, may face language barriers and financial or emotional dependence that influence their ability or willingness to report abuse. There is a danger in confusing abuse with cultural traditions as in the case of many cultures who do not honor the basic rights of women, and older women in these cultures may not realize they are being abused. Asking for help would not be an option for them because for them, it becomes the “way it is.”

The picture above is an example of elderly neglect.  As I always mention, please report any incidents of elder abuse to your local authorities. The website for the National Center for Elder Abuse is http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions.

REVERSE MORTGAGES

Many seniors have asked me to write about reverse mortgages. I was fortunate enough to have Liberty Home Equity Solutions give me some very important information. I am definitely not an authority on this topic so I thank Liberty for their help.

Reverse mortgages are a possible consideration for seniors who expect to live in their current homes for several years. Reverse mortgages are designed for homeowners age 62 and older. They are called “reverse”mortgages because the lender pays the homeowner.To qualify for this loan, the senior must live in the home as his/her primary residence. Reverse mortgages, unlike other mortgages, do not have income requirements. Making monthly payments are not required for as long as the borrower continues to live in the home.
There are two types of reverse mortgages:

  • Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM)—This program is offered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is insured by the Federal Housing Administration. These are the most popular reverse mortgages, representing about 95% of the business.  The rates are fixed and adjustable.  There are two types of HECM reverse mortgages, the traditional HECM Standard loan, and the HECM Saver loan. HECM Purchase Loan.
  1. The HECM Saver is a lower cost alternative to the HECM Standard, which makes it more comparable to a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).  It is typically used for homeowners that do not want to access all the funds from their home’s equity and desire lower closing costs.
  2. HECM for Purchase Loan can help homeowners buy their next home without having to make monthly mortgage payments. This loan enables homeowners to use the equity from the sale of a previous residence to buy their next primary home in one transaction. Regardless of how long you live in the home or what happens to your home’s value, you only make one, initial investment (down payment) towards the purchase.
  • Proprietary reverse mortgages— These types of mortgages are offered by some banks, credit unions and mortgage companies for owners of homes with a high values.

Based on the specific type of mortgage, borrowers have the option to receive payments as a lump sum, line of credit, fixed monthly payment for a specific period or for as long as they live in their homes, or a combination of payment options. This money the senior receives is tax-exempt and can be used anyway the borrower chooses.  Here are some additional facts about reverse mortgages:

  • All homeowners must first meet with a HUD-approved reverse mortgage counselor before their loan application can be processed.
  • Homeowners may be required to make specific repairs to their home, which must first be covered by the cash available from a reverse mortgage. Required repairs are typically related to the structural soundness and safety of the home. Homeowners may also elect to make any other improvements and repairs they choose
  • Older borrowers may receive more money, because lenders include life expectancy in calculating loan payments
  • There is a national limit on the amount a senior can borrow under the HECM program.  This limit changes from year to year.

Like all financial decisions, there are some considerations the borrower will have to take into account:

  • The borrower may continue to own the home and can never be forced to leave,as long as the home is maintained and property taxes and
    insurance are paid.
  • If there is in an existing mortgage on the property, the amount received from the reverse mortgage is usually used to pay off the loan.  This can
    increase the cash the senior has available each month, because the senior no longer has to make payments on the regular mortgage.
  • The senior may use up a large part of your home equity over time and have
    less to leave as an inheritance to his/her family.
  • The senior may use up a large part of the home equity over time and have
    less to leave as an inheritance to his/her family.
  • Reverse mortgage borrowers must keep their home in good repair,
    and pay property taxes and homeowners insurance. If the borrower does not have enough money for these expenses, the borrower could face foreclosure and lose his/her home.

If you need additional information regarding reverse mortgages, you should contact HUD at http://www.hud.gov and Liberty Home Equity Solutions at http://www.LibertyHomeEquity.com.

Please remember that June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  As I always mention, please report any incidents of elder abuse to your local authorities. The website for the National Center for Elder Abuse is http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions.

HOME REPAIRS AND THE ELDERLY

My mother recently had an indoor pipe burst in her basement.  She started having problems with the pipe after she had the outside sewer pipe replaced.  I called the plumbing company who replaced the sewer drain pipe, explaining to them that my mother did not have a problem until after having the sewer pipe replaced.

Of course, the company sent someone out to assess the problem.  Instead of trying to find a correlation between the indoor pipe with the recent replacement job, she was given an estimate about how much it would cost to fix the indoor pipe.  He later told her that she had mold in the basement and recommended that she call a mold remediation company.  At this point, my mother was fearful and stressed out. As directed, she called the mold remediation company and someone came out and surveyed the basement.  She was later told that the mold damage was severe and proceeded to give an estimate of the job.  This job would cost $4,000.00.  She called me and was frazzled. I called the plumbing company back and asked why was my mother given an estimate for repairs when it was possible that the company was at fault. I was told that I would receive a return call. I never did.

In the meantime, I questioned my mother about the mold. She said that she was told by the mold remediation company that she could use the bathroom in the basement and she should not stay in the basement too long. A red flag went up! One would presume that if the mold was such a major health hazard, she would have been instructed to stay out of the basement.  I later discovered that the mold issue was minimum and she should have someone spray a solution of bleach and water on the areas affected and that would kill the mold.  This was confirmed by my nephew, a licensed plumber. On that same visit, she was told that she needed to replace the drywall in her dining room because it was leaking from cracks outside of her home. Later, the director from our county’s housing development office came out. After assessing the drywall issue, he told us that all that was needed was a gutter cleaning.

When a homeowner is older and lacks knowledge of home repairs, it makes him/her a target for home repair scams.

It is estimated that more than $100 billion will be spent on home remodeling and repair this year. According to the Better Business Bureau, home remodeling contractors rank third in generating the most consumer complaints.

Older homeowners are popular targets of fraudulent home repair financing schemes as well because they tend to live in older homes that need repair and have access to the equity in their homes. Older homeowners are more likely to be vulnerable to scare tactics and the need for an immediate resolution of the problem.

It is important to note that many seniors are not familiar with the current market value of materials and labor, making them much more likely to easily accept an over-inflated bid for repair work. If a contractor knows that the homeowner previously paid on the spot, they will attempt to exploit the homeowner and also tell their subcontractors about the homeowner. In my mother’s case, the first question the plumber asked was, “Don’t you have account with us?”

According to elder-law.laws.com, here are some helpful safety tips:

  • Research online – Check out if there have been negative reviews about the company or individual. Also, go to the Better Business Bureau website to see if any complaints have been registered.
  • Get more than one estimate – Costs can vary dramatically when it comes to repair jobs.Have three people come out to give you estimates. If they’re not willing to give you a free estimate don’t use them.  Make sure you get the estimates in writing.
  • Sign a contract – Agree on the time it will take to complete, what is expected and included and the potential overages. Be sure that this covers the entire job and that there are no hidden charges.  Also, determine who will be in your home.Is it the person you’re dealing with or do they subcontract out to someone else?
  • Never pay 100% up front – If the job is done poorly or not completed, you’ll have a hard time getting your money back. Agree on a percentage up front and the remainder when you’re satisfied with the job.
  • Don’t leave them in your home alone – If you are a senior, be sure to let a neighbor or friend know that workers will be in your home. Check in on them sporadically to make sure they are actually working and not taking an extended coffee break or have wandered into some other area of your home. Never provide security codes to your home.
  • Keep your pride in check! – Have a loved one or a friend present during the work assessment.

As I mentioned before, whenever there is an economic downturn, the elderly are sure to be targeted.  Please report any incidents of elder abuse to your local authorities.  The website for the National Center for Elder Abuse is www.ncea.aoa.gov.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions.

GRANNY SNATCHING

Growing old has become something to dread in our society.  The Bible celebrates the one with “gray hair”.  Unfortunately, many of our elderly are not treated with respect and honor.  Elder abuse, whether it is physical, emotional or financial, is the reality of many older persons.  Many older persons are at the mercy of loved ones or others to provide care for them. This, many times, is not the best arrangement for the older person.

As I mentioned last week, “granny snatching” is when a senior is moved from one jurisdiction to another jurisdiction with laxer laws. Granny snatching laws vary drastically from state to state. This is another means to isolate the senior to be further exploited.  It is clear that there is a symbiotic relationship between guardianship issues and elder abuse

New Jersey and Pennsylvania have passed legislation preventing granny snatching. New York is currently awaiting Governor Cuomo’s signature on the bill that passed the House and the Senate on May 6, 2013.  This legislation provides that the individual’s home state has primary jurisdiction, followed by the state where the individual has a significant connection.

A well-known case that was in the press involved Lillian Glasser, a multi-millionaire Highland Park widow who suffered from dementia and Parkinson’s. While Mrs. Glasser was visiting her daughter in Texas in 2005, the daughter applied for and was awarded guardianship. Relatives in New Jersey opposed the guardianship on the grounds that Mrs. Glasser was a New Jersey resident. The cost of the ensuing legal dispute was estimated at more than $1 million.

Eventually a court ruled that Mrs. Glasser should return to New Jersey where a new guardian was appointed who was not a member of the family.  New Brunswick attorney Joseph J. Catanese served as Glasser’s guardian from 2007 until her death September 2011 at the age of 91.  Mrs. Glasser had a vacation home in Boca Raton Florida and in 2009 she was relocated there permanently in Florida because of the weather. Attorney Catanese oversaw Glasser’s care by a staff that included a care manager, 24 hour nursing care and a live-in housekeeper. He was hands-on,  visiting her in Florida each month throughout his guardianship. He would have lunch or dinner with her, and then take her to doctor appointments, so he could hear first hand from the doctor what was going on.

A tragic case in Canada involved Kathleen Palamarek, an elderly widow and patient in the Broadmead Lodge nursing home in Saanich, a community in Greater Victoria on Vancouver Island, had to remain there indefinitely, after a Canadian judge ruled that institutional confinement superceded living with her family.

Mrs. Palamarek’s daughter, Lois Sampson, had spent three years trying to free her mother from Broadmead, to no avail. The ruling from B.C. Justice David Harris, coming more than two months after the end of a trial in which Mrs. Sampson brought in legal and medical experts who questioned the quality of Mrs. Palamarek’s care and the necessity of her continued residence at Broadmead apparently puts an end to the case.  Unfortunately, Mrs. Palamarek died on May 4, 2011.

There is currently a high-profile case of granny snatching in New Jersey involving 86-year-old Lisa McGraw Webster, heiress to a share of the McGraw-Hill publishing fortune.

Her son Curtis McGraw Webster says that his two half sisters have wrongly taken charge of their ailing mother, described as “an alleged incapacitated person,” and moved her away from Princeton to her vacation home in Idaho at the cost of her health and happiness to get better access to her $25 million fortune. His sisters in their deposition allege that they are following their mother’s wishes. Nearly a dozen lawyers in three states are involved.

I strongly recommend reading Ron Winter‘s book Granny Snatching, How a 92-Year-Old Widow Fought the Courts and Her Family to Win Her Freedom  This book tells the story of his mother’s fight for living her life on her terms.  I

This is a picture of Kathleen Palamarek.  This should serve as a constant reminder of the repercussions of not having “the conversation” regarding the future care of your aging loved ones.

Kathleen Palamarek 1922-2011

As always, please report incidents of elder abuse to the local authorities.  The National Center for Elder Abuse’s website is http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.