Tuesday, January 15, 2008

An Alarming Story about Extreme Elder Abuse

Thanks to Ronni Bennett, of Time Goes By (http://www.timegoesby.net), I've read a very disturbing story from the Boston Globe entitled "Courts strip elders of their independence," subtitled "Within minutes, judges send seniors to supervised care" (see link below).

It seems that Dawn Cromwell, 73, is a virtual prisoner in a nursing home twenty months after what was supposed to be a short rehabilitation stay for a broken ankle. She is in a category called "unbefriended elders"--people who lack relatives or even friends to serve as their guardians. A nursing home doctor's short, nearly illegible diagnosis led to her being declared mentally ill by a judge and assigned to an overworked and/or imcompetent guardian. Dawn is apparently not mentally ill, or at least not seriously so.

Imagine the horror of finding oneself forgotten, with an alarm device strapped to an ankle to prevent escape, virtually no clothes, no prescription eyeglasses, no information about the medications she's forced to take. She can't even find out what happened to her apartment and her possessions.

Before you dismiss this as just an unfortunate mistake made in the Massachusetts probate courts, read the complete article. When you're young, it may be easy to dismiss such a story, or to believe that most elders are demented and incompetent to manage their own affairs. However, as we get older, we need to think about such things. If you're fortunate enough to have a loving family, or even loyal friends, nearby, you can probably avoid such tragedies. However, some of us are not so lucky.

At the very least, every senior should be sure to have a living will, grant power of attorney, especially for health care decisions, and maintain a safe place to keep this and all other personal information. It's time to think about who will take charge in case of emergency.

This article should serve as a wakeup call for anyone who doesn't recognize the perils of aging, or anyone who plans to rely on the government and the court system as the ultimate care giver. No elder, anywhere, deserves to end up in Dawn Cromwell's situation.

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne



grifin46 said...

Senior abuse scares the you know what out of me and breaks my heart at the same time. I read the first page of the article after reading all you wrote, but I could not read any further. I feel so helpless that I cannot do anything to stop this and people who could don't care. I will read more of your statements as they are very interesting and happy birthday to your brother, late. Steph./grifin46

seniorwriter said...

Yes, it's scary, indeed. I hope to be o.k. as long as I retain my mind and adequate money, but without those, I wouldn't have much of a chance unless the world somehow wakes up to these matters.

Anonymous said...

I live in southern illinois in one of thr worst counties for corruption. We have been making reports to several state funded agancys here that claim they protect the elderly.
We have been given so many excuses as to why our dear friend is till being abused and neglected from a well known guardian here who has close political ties in our county.
She has utilized almost all of the attorney's and judges to commit her crimes against the elderly and noone will stop her.
There seems to be an unholy alliance here. The courts and attorney's are making thousands and thousands of dollars from the elderly in which this guardian is suppose to be protecting.
She has given my friend 2500.00 for food over the past 12 years.
Not 25,000.. 2500.00. She has robbed him as well as hundreds of everything they have.
When I started uncovering her crimes over a year ago, one of her attorney's called me and threatened me and then sent letters to me only for my friend to be billed for it.
My 72 year old friend had not had any medical care for 12 years. He had no bed to sleep on. I reported this to the appropiate agency last may. My friend finally received a donated bed this past dec and not from his caring guardian.
We have called agency after agency for over a year now but yet my friend is still in his same postion and so are hundreds of elderly who are under this guardians care.
One agency in particular told me that evne though the state funded agency she works for is suppose to protect the agency tends to lean towards the guardian verses the neglected person.
I was and still am in outrage. My friend and I are still fighting for our friend and still fighting for the other elderly she has taken into her realm but we have no idea if we will ever be able to get this abuse stopped.
Thanks for listening.

seniorwriter said...

That is very frightening. Such elder abuse needs to be exposed!

Ianthe said...

I was alarmed to see the suggestion in the above-quoted article to make sure to have a "living will." Being kept on life support is not the danger for the elderly; the opposite is. If you find yourself in that situation and want to continue to live, with life support, which often happens,the "living will" will be used to kill you whether you want to die at the time or not. These documents were devised to get rid of the disabled and the elderly in order to keep costs down. You'll be in danger even if you don't have a "living will"; don't give them ammo.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure no one may be searching this story anymore but I work at the nursing home where Dawn resides. She is a beautiful woman who you can carry a conversation with. Its sad that after years of never being properly rehabilitated she can barely hold her balance when she walks. I make sure to talk to her and treat her as more of a human than i see others do.