Friday, October 10, 2014

Don't cut my trees......... Elder Abuse True Story

My staff called in panic. Georgia was having a meltdown. She would not let the gardeners do their job.  "I do not want to see the house in the back, it is disrespectful".

Georgia has Alzheimer's. There was no gardener and no, the trees were not being cut. Georgia has very short term memory, while her long term memory is very intact. Interestingly she remembers my name, even though I met her only 3 years back.

Georgia was going through an unfortunate time when I first met her. She has recently been victim of an elder abuse. When she needed some help at home, she talked to her friends and neighbors. As always someone knows someone and Virginia came to work with Georgia.

Virginia was quick to make friends with Georgia and within 2 months she moved in to live with Georgia. Often Virginia's son used to come to stay the weekends too. The neighbors got used to seeing them on the property and everything was going on smoothly.  Well Virginia was more than just helpful.

Virginia started helping Georgia paying her bills. Virginia would write the check for Georgia to sign. Georgia was very trusting and soon she had complete access to Georgia's bank account. The bank manager too was seeing Virginia regularly that he too did not see anything wrong going on.

Of course there was lot going on. Virginia would make small checks payable to herself and would get Georgia to sign. No one realized except Virginia that Georgia was losing her memory. Georgia was single and had no immediate relatives. Only her friends and neighbors knew that she existed. Soon Virginia started signing the checks herself.  Not many are aware of this but the banks do not verify signatures of small value checks.

Unknown to Virginia, Georgia had a distant nephew, Dan, who lived in Ohio. He was monitoring funds of his aunt. He started to see higher amounts of withdrawal in the last several months and he started to worry. Dan decided to investigate and to his dismay he found that Georgia was missing  about $175 k from her savings. He reported to police and soon Virginia and her son was arrested.

The court finally settled the case, Virginia will be required to pay $25 per month till all the amount stolen is refunded !!!.  Well that takes about 583 years to finish paying off the debt.

Well, we live in a society where when Justin Beiber eggs his neighbors 15 Sheriffs come down heavy to get to the bottom of the case. Whereas when defenseless seniors are robbed off their nest egg, the law looks in the other direction.  We have become a society that is more supportive of criminals and their hardships than a well standing citizen who has worked hard for their living.

If Elder abuse is to be taken seriously, we need new laws and we need to enforce the laws. Without which we will only be paying lip service to a problem that is already $2.6 Billion big and growing rapidly.