Last week, the New Yorker published a sobering look into the world of abusive guardianships around the country. Stories about elderly individuals being over-medicated and shuffled around to different nursing homes show the dark side of Guardianship law and how the Elderly are abused in our communities. As the baby boomer generation ages, elder abuse will continue to plague our society. After reading this story, I am left with two takeaways:
- Attorneys appointed to represent the interest of potential Wards need to do their due diligence EVERY TIME. Visit the person and speak to the caregivers. Talk to the family members and gather all relevant facts before submitting any report to the Court. In 99 out of 100 cases like those discussed in the article, a good advocate for the Ward would prevent the situation from getting out of hand.
- Family members and friends need to look out for the elderly in their communities. In a society where we close ourselves off more and more each year, those struggling in their homes or daily lives go unnoticed. If you know of an elderly person or couple in your neighborhood, take time to stop and check on them once a week or so. If you are family, go visit your elderly family members! Look for signs of elder abuse (new credit cards, HSN packages by the dozens, etc.). Those with memory issues can greatly benefit from seeing familiar faces on a daily or weekly basis.
Although we practice Guardianship law at the Weaver Firm, we always recommend a Guardianship as a last resort. The State of Texas has many statutory alternatives including Power of Attorneys, Caregiver Agreements, etc. Often, a strong support system can prevent Guardianships for years if not indefinitely.
For more information about these alternatives or if you think you need Guardianship advice, call our office at 817.638.9016.
To report elder abuse, go here: https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Contact_Us/report_abuse.asp.