I want to talk about something that I’d rather not be talking about. However, there is a sad reality in our charmed village. Naturally, any dire problem that is International in its proportions is likely to hit home. But I recently heard of three nightmares that have occurred on the block that I lived on for 30 years. (Names are withheld out of respect to the families.) I’d like you to hear from my former neighbor, Jennifer.
“I wanted to share something with you, in hopes that you might be able to spread the word. I unfortunately first came into contact with elder abuse with our sweet neighbor, K. Remember the ex-marine, who was Walt Disney’s personal pilot, and his wonderful wife G.? When she died several years ago, K. hired two female caregivers (their agency having been recommended by a famous local hospital) who not only stole material things from him but also embezzled over $100,000 from him. Fortunately the bank refunded his money and the caregivers were fired. But because K. was so embarrassed that he had been taken advantage of, he refused to file a complaint with the police. The care-givers were never prosecuted.
“Our sweet neighbor D. (directly across the street from me) and his wife were also victims of elder abuse from a care-giver who was paid for 24-hour care but who I observed on many occasions leaving their home at 1 a.m. and returning at 5 a.m. Because of my late-night observations, this caregiver was fired, and eventually a new man was found who took good care of D. until he died a few years ago.
It Is Not A Crime
“Now, it’s happened to me. My 87-year old mother was unduly influenced by, and became infatuated with B., my 86-year old father’s care-giver. It only took 14 months for him to destroy our family. She has filed for divorce after 64 years of marriage.
“B. convinced my mother that her remaining two children (my two sisters died years ago) and her husband were worthless, and influenced her to attempt to declare my father incompetent so that she would have complete control of their assets. Fortunately, the family became involved before this happened. When my father fired B., she left the house. That evening, I went through the trash and found over thirty pages of disgusting plans written in B.’s handwriting – things like ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B,’ horrible things about my father (“he’s chosen his way out”), personal financial information and copies of emails my brother and I had sent to our mother which he had highlighted in yellow pen, with his negative comments about us in the margin.
“Adult Protective Services have been involved, and though they have confirmed my mother is unduly influenced, it is not a crime.
“B. persuaded her to join the Self Realization Fellowship church after being a Presbyterian for 80 years. For the past five months, I have been in San Diego taking care of my father and trying to help him with the legal garbage. I am writing to you not just to share my story but to inform you that elder abuse is now considered the crime of the 21st century. Fueled by our country’s serious economic crisis, vultures are preying on our elders because they are easy targets for money. I’m blown away by the fact that nearly every three people I speak with have their own story about their grandmother, their uncle or their cousin. Apparently only 20% of elder abuse is reported.
“I’m beside myself with grief but realizing that my family is only one of many experiencing this tragedy is devastating. Please share this with your friends.”
You, Tolucan Times readers, have been my friends for many years. Please be alert and please pass on this information.
Wear something purple on June 15th, the day the world sets aside to recognize elder abuse. Show that you care about ending elder abuse and neglect. The contact for International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) is: firstname.lastname@example.org. To think that such an organization has to exist!