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Blog, Training / 09.02.2017

A woman living in an assisted living community in Lemon Grove thought she was losing her mind. Each week, she noticed money disappearing from her room. She never noticed anyone taking her items, and people she questioned knew nothing about it. She was losing sleep, wondering if early dementia was fogging up her thoughts. “Am I imaging that I am losing things?” she thought to herself. When she mentioned her concern to her daughter, the young woman placed a hidden camera in her mother’s room. Sure enough, the video showed the janitor walking into the room at night, opening up the safe and taking the elderly woman’s belongings. Assistant Deputy District Attorney Paul Greenwood related that story during a meeting of the North County Estate Planning Council on February 2, 2017. The focus of the meeting was Exploitation to Abuse: Spotting and Dealing with the Dangerous Threats to Our Aging Clients. Greenwood said the Lemon Grove case, the judge was compelled to sentence the janitor to 270 days in custody when the victim testified, “I thought I had dementia, this caused not only financial harm but emotional harm as well.” Supporting client use of cameras in the home is one way that a quality home care agency can promote client safety and security. The management staff of At Home Nursing Care is aware that about 25% of our clients or their family members install cameras in the home. Our philosophy is that it protects the client, our caregivers and the agency by showing what we did and what we didn’t do. Anything that gives our families peace of mind we applaud. Greenwood explained that financial abuse is committed by caregivers paid and unpaid, and sadly the perpetrators are most often members of the family. “Who is doing the abuse?” he said, “The son, the grandson, the hired caregiver who got too close.” Greenwood described elder financial abuse as any instance when someone over age 65 is deprived of their property. It’s a felony if the loss is greater than $950, anything less is a misdemeanor. But Greenwood stated that he tries to look for ways to charge a felony, even in smaller cases. He gave this example: a caregiver steals $500 by forging a client’s check - that would be a misdemeanor. However, the moment that caregiver walks into a bank to deposit the check, that caregiver has committed a 2nd degree burglary, which is a felony. He described another case which led to changes in banking laws in 2003. In that case, a limo driver picked up a woman from the skilling nursing facility where she was living in Encinitas. The limo driver took the woman to the bank, where he asked her to liquidate an account and provide him with a $97,000 cashier’s check. The bank teller didn’t do much to investigate the transaction; instead she asked the limo driver who he was. He claimed he was the woman’s attorney and...