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.