- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Remembering Del Martin. Tuesday, September 23,
“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
- Summer Reads in Elder Abuse. Tuesday, August 12,
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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!”
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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
For more on promising practices and developments in the field, visit
my blog, Prevent
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