Among our greatest challenges as a nation
today is making America a safe place
to grow old
.”  — Lisa Nerenberg


Blog Browsing

  • From Daejeon to Cleveland: A World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Odyssey. Sunday, June 21, 2009. This was the first year I participated in World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) events, and I did it to the hilt. WEAAD, the brainchild of Elizabeth Podnieks and the International Network for the Prevention on Elder Abuse (INPEA), has been gaining momentum since its 2006 debut, capturing the imaginations of program planners around the world. Read more…
  • Secrets in America: New Documentary Focuses on Elder Financial Abuse. Friday, April 3, 2009. By the time David Jones emailed me to say that “our” film was finished, I’d forgotten all about it. It was well over a year since I’d met Stanislaus County’s Communications Director and it had taken that long to secure the funds and produce the half-hour long Secrets in America. With $12,000 in grants from the Stanislaus Community Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, David used friends and volunteers to shoot footage from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. Read more
  • New Cal Law Allows for Video-Conferencing in Elder Abuse Cases. Monday, February 2, 2009. Among California’s new laws that went into effect on Jan 1 was AB 1158, which allows for the use of two-way video conferencing to examine witnesses who can't come to court. The new law may be a first step in tackling some of the obstacles posed by the 2004 US Supreme Court’s Crawford v. Washington decision, which was a major setback in the prosecution of elder abuse cases (even though the case didn’t involve elder abuse). Read more…
  • Mediating Elder Financial Abuse. Monday, December 29, 2008. A few years ago, my long-time friend, Oakland-based attorney Frederick Hertz made the switch from litigating conflicts over money and property involving family members and partners to mediating them. When he told me that he’d teamed up with another mediator with 20 year’s experience as a family therapist to explore the legal and psychological interface of “family business” gone wrong, I was intrigued. Read more…
  • Community Colleges, An Untapped Resource for Preventing Elder Abuse. Friday, December 26, 2008. For the last three years, I’ve been working with faculty at City College of San Francisco (CCSF), under a grant from the Archstone Foundation, to develop a course in elder abuse prevention for students in the paramedic, health care interpreter, and community health worker programs. Read more…
  • Powers of Attorney, Elder Justice, Help Hiring Helpers, and No More Minnesota Nice. Friday, December 05, 2008. New Report on Powers of Attorney (POAs) On Thursday, AARP’s Public Policy Institute released Power of Attorney Abuse: What States Can Do About It. Written by Lori Stiegel and Ellen Klem of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging, the 89-page document compares state laws on POAs and highlights measures that offer special protections against abuse, which include: Read more…
  • Getting Our Minds (and Laws) Around Undue Influence. Friday, October 31, 2008. Undue influence. We know it when we see it, and those of us in elder abuse prevention see it often: elders who are ill, lonesome, isolated, impaired, or grieving being persuaded to give away assets, sometimes homes and life savings, to new acquaintances, suitors, family members, or even cunning cons in other countries. They use various devices--trust documents, powers of attorney, wills, sweepstake offers, bogus charities, or quickie marriages--but the results are the same: getting vulnerable elders to do things they wouldn’t have done otherwise. Read more…
  • Remembering Del Martin. Tuesday, September 23, 2008. “When you add our society’s propensity toward violence with ageism and sexism, you have a dangerous situation.” Del Martin, 1995. The flags at San Francisco’s City Hall flew at half-mast on August 28 in memory of Del Martin, a pioneering figure in the fight for the rights of women, lesbians, survivors of domestic violence, and the elderly. Read more…
  • Summer Reads in Elder Abuse. Tuesday, August 12, 2008. I’m not a fan of pulp mystery writer Sue Grafton, but when I heard that her latest book, “T” is for Trespass, was about elder identity theft, I was curious and grabbed a copy I found in a discount sales bin. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Grafton’s alphabet mystery series, beginning with “A” is for Alibi, which features plucky private eye Kinsey Millhone. As a sometimes writer of fiction myself, it occurred to me that by the time Grafton got to T, she may well have regretted her decision to use the alphabet device and dubbed her latest “T” is for Tedium. Read more…
  • Wall Street Journal Looks at Home Care Aide Crisis. Tuesday, July 15, 2008. Readers know that the shortage of in-home workers and elders’ vulnerability to abuse by criminal caregivers has long been a concern of mine. So I was delighted with Phil Shiskin’s in-depth article on the subject that appeared in today’s Wall Street Journal. It focuses on California and mentions Napa's effort to develop a local screening program. Check it out at Caregiver Abuse. Read more…
  • Luring Health Care Providers into Geriatrics. Wednesday, May 28, 2008. Supporters of loan forgiveness programs aimed at encouraging health care providers to specialize in geriatrics got a boost from a report issued last month by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce is based on the findings of an ad hoc committee that looked at the health care needs of the 78 million baby boomers who’ll soon be turning 65. Read more…
  • Guardianship Under Assault. Saturday, May 10, 2008. Indictments of guardianship and guardians are flying fast and furiously these days on Web sites and blogs: A new site, operated by a group calling itself the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse, explains guardianship this way: "At present, it operates to ensnare the most vulnerable people in a larger and larger trawling net, now including those merely physically "incapacitated"! It has  Read more…
  • Undue Influence: There Oughta be a Law (or Two). Monday, March 24, 2008. When undue influence was “discovered” as a significant factor in elder abuse a decade ago, it immediately struck a chord with advocates and service providers who'd been seeing the phenomenon for years. They may not have had a term for it, but they knew it when they saw it. But translating undue influence into law, or more specifically, translating it into an infraction of the law, hasn’t been Read more…
  • Expanding our Notion of Accountability. Wednesday, March 12, 2008. A couple weeks ago, I was in the middle of writing a proposal to explore restorative justice approaches to elder abuse when I happened to see the new Pew Center report on incarceration (see Pew Report) that showed that more than one in 100 American adults are behind bars. That’s 1.6 million, the highest rate of any nation in the world. And it gets worse: one in 36 Hispanic and one in 15 adults Read more…
  • Abuse and Home Care Workers: Giving Policymakers the Lowdown. Friday, February 01, 2008. APS workers, prosecutors, and aging service providers know the frustration well: They discover that a personal care attendant who is being paid with public funds is abusing an elder. When they prevail upon public entities to fire the worker, they’re told “no can do.” When abusive caregivers are hired and supervised by elders, only the elders can fire them. We also know that seniors sometimes Read more…
  • Geriatricians, Angry and Otherwise. Thursday, November 15, 2007. Last week, I had a fascinating conversation with French journalist Dominique Prédali, co-author of On Tue Les Vieux, or Killing Elders, which describes elder abuse in French nursing homes and hospitals. Written for the general public, the book's small initial printing sold out the first day it hit bookstores last year and is now in its third printing. She is currently researching a new book on Read more…
  • Fighting Back Against Financial Crime. Tuesday, October 30, 2007. Sometimes it seems like we're fighting a losing battle against increasingly sophisticated fraud perps. But there have been some inroads, and I thought it was time for some good news. My hometown paper, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, recently reported on a lawsuit filed by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson against the giant international life insurance company Allianz for pressuring seniors Read more…
  • NYT's Article on Nursing Home Buyouts Prompts Action. Thursday, October 25, 2007. In a follow-up to its September 23rd article "At Many Homes, More Profit and Less Nursing" by Charles Duhigg, the New York Times yesterday reported that the article has prompted a flurry of Congressional activity. Last week, Senators Max Baucus, who chairs the Finance Committee, and ranking member Charles Grassley sent letters to five private investment firms requesting information about their Read more…
  • Elder Abuse for Profit Friday. Friday, October 12, 2007. In a chilling article that ran on September 23, The New York Times analyzed trends in patient care in nursing homes purchased by private investment groups. Using Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data, The Times looked at more than 1,200 nursing homes purchased by large private investment groups since 2000 and more than 14,000 other homes; they compared the investor-owned homes Read more…
  • Keeping up With Financial Predators. Monday, October 08, 2007. While interviewing Shawna Reeves Nourzaie for another recent posting, I asked her what affect the sub-prime crash has had on her job. Shawna is a social worker at the Fair Lending Project for Seniors of the Council on Aging Silicon Valley. She organizes community education and outreach events about predatory lending and hooks victims up to social and legal services. Up until now, her passion has Read more…
  • County Caregiver Screening Program Faces Challenges. Thursday, October 04, 2007. An article in yesterday's Napa Valley Register provides an update on a project I've been watching for many months. Lacking confidence that the state was going to solve the problem of preventing dangerous criminals from becoming caregivers and working in frail elders' homes, advocates in Napa County California, including Betty Rhodes of the county's Commission on Aging and Terri Restelli-Deits, Read more…
  • Senior Centers as Financial Abusers. Tuesday, September 25, 2007. Can a senior center incur civil liability for elder financial abuse if it permits its facility to be used by a presenter who then financially abuses attendees? The answer may be yes, at least in California, according to San Francisco attorney Steven Riess, who contends that: “By permitting an Read more…
  • Predators and Politics. Monday, July 09, 2007. A couple weeks ago, the New York Times ran a chilling account, "Bilking the Elderly, With a Corporate Assist," about how financial predators operate and how presumably legitimate businesses help them. Here's how it opens: The thieves operated from small offices in Toronto and hangar-size rooms in India. Every night, working from lists of names and phone numbers, they called World War II Read more…
  • Art for Elder Abuse Awareness. Sunday, June 03, 2007. In my March 26 post, I mentioned that an advanced graphics design class at City College of San Francisco that I’ve been working with got interested in World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and decided to design posters for a class assignment. Here are the wonderful results. Several of the posters have been translated into multiple languages. The class designed collateral materials too. For Read more…
  • Caring About Caregivers. Sunday, May 06, 2007. Last month, while we celebrated my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday at her board and care home, I spent a long time talking to Carole, the daughter-in-law of another resident, Brenda. Before moving into the home a year ago, Brenda had lived with her son and Carole, and the couple’s two pre-teen kids. The arrangement lasted five years, during which, Brenda’s mental capacity declined and Carole’s Read more…
  • Defining Elder Abuse: The Debate Continues. Wednesday, March 14, 2007. A couple of weeks ago, while Nobel laureate and holocaust scholar Eli Wiesel was in San Francisco to speak at a peace rally, a young man approached him at his hotel and asked for an interview. Wiesel agreed to talk in the lobby, but for some reason, they ended up getting into an elevator together. When they got to the younger man’s floor, he pushed Wiesel out and tried to drag him Read more…
  • From the Folks Who Brought You “Friendly Fire.” Monday, February 26, 2007. What do the U.S. military and the long-term care network have in common? It seems we’re competing for the same criminals (reformed, hopefully) to fill critical manpower shortages. In our case, the shortage is for nursing home employees and in-home attendants. In theirs, it’s for soldiers to fight an unpopular war. We’re both struggling with the uncertainties of deciding when past criminal conduct   Read more…
  • PPS on Undue Influence: The Civil Side. Thursday, December 14, 2006. For the season of giving... Caregivers in California who receive last-minute bequests from those they care for are presumed to have exercised undue influence, even if they were close friends. That’s because of a controversial 1993 law that was recently upheld on appeal (Bernard v. Foley). Read more...
  • Postscript on Undue Influence is Not a Crime. Monday, December 04, 2006. Last week, Melissa McKowan, prosecutor in the undue influence case I described in my last post, told me that the California Supreme Court has denied a request to review the appellate court’s reversal, so the case can’t be retried. Read more… Undue Influence is Not a Crime Monday, November 20, 2006 So said a California appeals court last month in ruling on the case of a 78-year-old San Mateo man who wrote over $660,000 in checks to a friend and helper. Read more…
  • Meditations on Mediation. Wednesday, November 08, 2006. My old friend Fred Hertz is arguably the nation’s leading expert on “gay divorce.” A lawyer, he represents partners in break-ups and has written a book on the subject, been interviewed on NPR, appeared on Oprah, and is frequently quoted in the press. Read more… Archstone Foundation Creates Community of Contractors Tuesday, October 24, 2006 Last month I was at the second “convening” of Archstone Foundation grantees, representatives from projects funded under the foundation’s 5-year, $8 million Elder Abuse and Neglect Initiative. Read more…
  • Perpetrators with Dementias. Wednesday, October 11, 2006. A couple years ago, a friend who runs a dementia care program asked me to talk to her staff following a tragedy involving a client, a man with Alzheimer’s disease, who'd killed his wife. The staff was understandably upset. But what made matters worse was that some felt they’d seen it coming. Read more…
  • Elder ID Theft: Should We be Concerned? Wednesday, September 20, 2006. Traditionally, those of us in the field of elder abuse prevention haven’t dealt with “consumer” crimes like telemarketing scams or identity theft. There was no evidence to suggest that elders were targeted, and some studies even suggested that elders were less likely than younger people to be victimized. Besides, our focus was on abuse by family members and acquaintances. Read more…
  • Consumer Choice or Government-Subsidized Elder Abuse? Thursday, August 17, 2006. Years ago, San Francisco’s multidisciplinary team was discussing a case involving flagrant abuse by a chore worker. When the group learned that the worker was being paid with public funds through the state’s In-Home Support Services program, we turned to Mary Counihan, supervisor of our APS and IHSS units, and chimed in unison “Fire him!” Read more…
  • Follow-up on Government-Subsidized Elder Abuse. Tuesday, August 22, 2006. Although I welcome feedback, apparently my blog doesn’t. Seems it’s been rejecting comments. I’m exploring how to fix the problem, but in the meantime, I wanted to pass along an item from Lori Delagrammatikas, program coordinator of Project Master at San Diego State University’s School of Social Work: Read more…
  • Offenders, Victims and Restorative Justice. Monday, July 10, 2006. Last month, I presented at the Offender Treatment, Victim Services, Restorative Justice conference in Miami, which was sponsored by the Institute of Evidence-Based and Best Practices. The conference was a bold one–it’s not that usual to bring victims’ and offenders’ advocates together, and when you throw in sessions on applying restorative justice (RJ) to domestic violence (DV), you know they were pushing the limits. Read more…
  • Remembering Rosalie Wolf. Monday, June 26, 2006. It’s hard to believe that today marks the fifth anniversary of Rosalie Wolf’s death. For many of us, her presence is still very much felt. Almost daily, we see citations to her work, references to JEAN, and news about the organizations she spearheaded and the awards she inspired. Read more…
  • Long Distance Undue Influence. Tuesday, June 20, 2006. Last week, San Diego prosecutor Paul Greenwood posted a message to NCEA’s list serve about an “articulate, coherent and charming” elderly woman who’d sent over $50,000 to telemarketers in Canada despite being warned repeatedly that they were crooks. She described feeling “hypnotized.” It reminded me of when Dennis Morris, a San Francisco prosecutor, came to a meeting of our multidisciplinary team more than a decade ago and asked if anyone knew of an expert in brainwashing. Read more…
  • Criminal Caregivers. Tuesday, June 13, 2006. Criminals shouldn’t be providing care to frail old people. That assumption is what’s driving more and more agencies, states and the federal government to explore criminal background checks for prospective long term care employees. But ensuring that vulnerable elders have trustworthy caregivers isn’t that easy. Read more…
  • Ageism, Elder Abuse and Social Justice. Wednesday, May 24, 2006. It’s not surprising that Paul Kleyman would take offense at a “Close to Home” cartoon that ran in a recent edition of the Washington Post. In it, an elderly bald man is reading a tabloid called Aging Today, which has a wrinkled, swimsuit-clad elderly woman on its cover under the banner "1st annual swimsuit edition.” The cartoon’s caption is “A dark day in publishing.” Read more…
  • Walmart Benefits from Restitution Reform. Monday, May 15, 2006. The other day, I was updating a handout I use for presentations on financial abuse and decided to check up on a project I list in the "Best Practices” section. It's a program created to revamp Vermont’s restitution recovery system, which got started after a 2001 state auditor's report revealed that only 13 cents of every dollar owed for restitution had been collected during the previous year. Read more…
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For more on promising practices and developments in the field, visit my blog, Prevent Elder Abuse.
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