Current Events

Increasing Acceptance of "Granny Cams"

Most of us have heard of nanny cams. Now, the tiny hidden cameras, used for parents who are suspicious of their nannies, are gaining greater acceptance as a way to stop elder abuse or nursing home abuse.

A video still shows a nursing home aide stuffing latex gloves into Eryetha Mayberry’s mouth

A video still shows a nursing home aide stuffing latex gloves into Eryetha Mayberry’s mouth

According to the NY Times’ Well blog, Doris Racher decided to use a granny cam to catch a petty thief who was stealing from her mother, a 96-year-old dementia nursing home patient.

Instead of catching the thief, Doris found an aide stuffing latex gloves into her mother’s mouth, while another taunted her, tapping her on the head, laughing.

Despite concerns about privacy, some state attorney generals have used hidden cameras to go after some suspected of nursing home patient abuse and neglect.

In June, Mike DeWine, the Ohio state attorney general, announced that his office, with permission from families, had placed cameras in residents’ rooms in an unspecified number of state facilities. Mr. DeWine has moved to shut down at least one facility, in Zanesville, where, he said, cameras caught actions like an aide’s repeatedly leaving a stroke patient’s food by his incapacitated side.

As for the Mayberry story, there is now a new Oklahoma law that allows cameras in residents’ rooms if consent forms are filed to notify the facility, according to prior coverage by News9. The law gives the family exclusive rights to the recording and allows it to be used in court.


WA State Has a Problem with Caring for Some of its Most Vulnerable Citizens

Two July 31st Washington state audits reveal some significant issues with how our developmentally disabled citizens are inadequately served. Audit findings include:

Washington’s challenge is to make more equitable services available  to all the eligible people who are asking for them.

Washington’s challenge is to make more equitable services available
to all the eligible people who are asking for them.

  • 23 criminally disqualified caregivers were hired. This number is based on a sample pool of 1,400 supported-living workers (out of 40,000 statewide).
  • 12% of caregivers lack safety training certifications. Note that the numbers may actually be much higher, but the state is too understaffed to investigate or cross-check records.
  • There were roughly $500,000 in overpayments. These overpayments were due primarily to errors manually transferring rates into spreadsheets, and then manually transferring again into the payment system.
  • There were about $11.3 million in questionable payments and $5.5 million in unauthorized payments. Mismanagement of funds focused on paying roughly 3,700 individual citizens, while  ~15,000 people eligible for such services as housing, medical care and job planning languish on a waiting list.

The Seattle Times ran a blistering editorial enumerating Washington state’s problems with caring for some of its most vulnerable citizens, calling on lawmakers to do something.

Indeed, what do we need to do to open the eyes to our legislature to address the serious problems that the auditor’s reports call out?!2nd Auditor Rept

As one of the auditor’s reports points out, Washington serves fewer people compared to other states.

In 2012, Washington served 12,722 people with ICF/ID or HCBS services. Based on 2012
population estimates, this is about 186.6 individuals per 100,000 in the general population,
which is still below the 2010 national average.

Robocall Scam Targets Senior Citizens in WA State and Beyond

Local TV news journalist, Jesse Jones, recently ran a story about a new scam that targets the elderly. According to the Washington State Attorney General’s office, a new robocall scam offers “free” emergency alert devices to senior citizens.

Victims of the scam include Kyle Davis and his brother. They realized that they couldn’t always be available for their parents, so they signed on for this service. What they hadn’t realized that

Kyle Davis and his brothers know they can’t be there to help their parents all the time.  So they signed them up for a type of medical alert pendant in case of emergency.

The scam confuses the recipient of the robocalls, asking if the person wants to opt out.  To opt out, the victim is asked to press a specific number. But that number actually is an acceptance of an offer for a roughly $40 medical alert device. Kyle Davis’ mother, Dixie Davis, thought she was opting out per the robocall instructions, but instead found charges on her Amex bill twice for the same device that she later received in the mail.

“This is a company that’s supposed to be helping out seniors and yet they are kind of scamming seniors, it appears,” explained Kyle to Jesse James.

Apparently, this scam is widespread beyond the Northwest.  The first call is a robocall offering a free alert device that a third party marketer is calling, targeting the elderly.

As the AG’s office reminds, “free” isn’t usually truly free.

Now, if you really need a medical alert device, please get a recommendation from your physician and completely disregard any telemarketing offers.

Seattle-Based Emeritus Walloped With $23 Million Verdict

The Sacramento Bee reported that just last week, a Sacramento jury found Emeritus Corp. guilty of wrongful death and elder abuse on Tuesday in relation to its care of a former resident who died shortly after leaving an Emeritus-run senior living community in California.

Emeritus, based in Seattle, Washington is the largest assisted living facility in the U.S.

Emeritus, largest US assisted living facility corp.

Emeritus, largest US provider of assisted living facilities

The Boice family brought a lawsuit against Emeritus for the abuse and death of Joan Boice, 82.  Ms. Boice, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, had passed away three months after moving into a nursing home in 2008. She had resided at Emeritus at Emerald Hills in Auburn, CA.

Within months, she was found with at least four major pressure ulcers, which were believed to have been a significant factor in causing her death. By day 10 of her stay at the Emeritus facility, Joan had fallen down and was never able to get out of her wheelchair after her fall.

Late last year, Emeritus offered a $3.5 million settlement to the son and daughter of Ms. Boice. But Eric Boice wanted others to know his mother’s story of the elder abuse and neglect: so, the Boices went to trial.

The jury on the case voted unanimously against the company on 12 out of 15 questions on the two jury forms, including voting 12-0 that Emeritus employees failed to use reasonable care in providing for Boice’s hygienic, mental health, and safety needs.

The jurors also unanimously voted that this failure resulted in substantial harm to Boice, and that Emeritus’ officers and directors knew “about the unfitness of their employees and [acted] with conscious disregard of the rights and safety of others.”

Finally, the jurors voted 12-0 that Boices proved “that an employee, officer, director, or a managing agent acted with recklessness, malice, oppression, and fraud.”

Counsel for Emeritus vowed to appeal. This story tells us that no matter the size of the facility, if you have a loved one in assisted care, please remain vigilant.

See more:  Life and Death in Assisted Living

Concerned Granddaughter Uses Nanny Cam at Nursing Home

Diana Valetin put a new twist on the idea of a nanny cam, when she decided to plant a hidden camera in the room where her grandmother,  Ana Luisa Medina, 89, stayed at Gold Crest Care Center in New York.

I read about this sad story of elder abuse in the NY Daily News. Diana kept finding strange bruises on her grandmother’s forehead and arms.

 “They were telling me she had gotten the bruising on her hands by banging on the bed railing.”

Each time Diana went to the Care Center’s management with her concerns, the response was that they were aware of her concerns and that they would investigate it.

Ms. Valetin used a hidden camera to learn why her grandmother was getting bruises.

Ms. Valetin used a hidden camera to learn why her grandmother was getting bruises.

Frustrated with inaction despite the constant bruises, Ms. Valetin decided to investigate the issue herself. She hid a small video camera in a potted plant, capturing over 600 hours of video. “The first video that I saw, [the aide] grabbed my grandmother’s arm, twisted it back, lifted her off the bed and slammed her into the bed,” Valentin said.

Sandra Kerr, the 55-year old nurse, was apparently twisting Ana Luisa Medina’s frail arms and slamming her into the bed. Kerr has since been arrested, and she has been charged with endangering the welfare of a physically disabled person.

Attorney General Schneiderman stated, “My office has zero tolerance for nursing home aides who abuse, neglect or harm the people in their care. Medical professionals have a responsibility to properly care for their patients and must be held accountable when they fail to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

At this time, Gold Crest Care Center had not commented on Ms. Valetin’s claim. Unfortunately, this story is the tip of the iceberg regarding the epidemic of elder abuse in this country.

Alzheimers Numbers to Almost Triple by 2050

A recent Reuters article relays the findings of an alarming article published in Neorology. The number of those with Alzheimer’s disease will virtually triple by 2050. Around 13.8 million in this country will have this affliction, and roughly 7

Over 13.5 million U.S. citizens will have some form of Alzheimers by 2050. Over half will be 65 years or older.

Over 13.5 million U.S. citizens will have some form of Alzheimers by 2050. Over half will be 65 years or older.

million of those with Alzheimers will be 65 years or older. To give you some context, about 5 million are estimated to have this form of dementia in the U.S. at present.

Organizations such as the National Institute on Aging are concerned about this looming epidemic, given that very few treatments are available for Alzheimers patients. Reuters quotes the study co-author, Jennifer Weuve, an assistant professor of medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL:: “Our study draws attention to an urgent need for more research, treatments and preventive strategies to reduce this epidemic.”

The article points to underwhelming results of pharmaceutical companies, such as Eli Lilly and Co. Lilly had release solanezumab, which had failed in mid 2012 to meet the primary goals of two studies in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. Solanezub only showed a slight benefit when the studies were pooled to look at the effect on those with the mildest form of the disease. According to reports, Lilly plans to start a new trial in patients with mild Alzheimer’s this year.

The rapidly growing number of Alzheimers patients will burden the healthcare system, facilities designed for the elderly, as well as families of those caring and supporting loved ones with this disease. The team at Rush Medical Center hopes that the staggering statistics will compel U.S. policymakers to plan accordingly.


!assisted-suicideAttorneys such as Margaret Dore in Seattle assert that Washington and Oregon laws that allow assisted suicide is a factor for increasing elder abuse. Ms. Dore explains that the Oregon and Washington assisted suicide acts have a formal application process. The acts allow an heir, who will benefit from the patient’s death, to play a large role in this process.

Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, no mechanism for oversight exists. That means that no one needs to witness the death. Without disinterested witnesses, Ms. Dore asserts, “[T]he opportunity is created for an heir, or for another person who will benefit from the patient’s death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent. One method would be by injection when the patient is sleeping. The drugs used in Oregon and Washington are water soluble and therefore injectable. If the patient woke up and struggled, who would know?”

In Washington and Oregon, the state health departments are required to collect some basic information for its annual reports. According to these reports, users of assisted-suicide are for the vast majority white and well-educated. Many have private insurance. Most are age 65 and older. People that fall into this demographic are seniors with money, which we have seen are commonly targeted and at a higher risk of financial abuse.

The forms used to collect the statistical information do not ask about abuse. Moreover, not even law enforcement is allowed to access information about a particular case. Alicia Parkman a mortality research analyst at the Center for Health Statistics, Oregon Health Authority, wrote to Ms. Dore: “We have been contacted by law enforcement and legal representatives in the past, but have not provided identifying information of any type.“

Consumer Reports warns about financial elder abuse

KOMO News reported on the growing trend of financial elder abuse with focus on Consumer Reports recent investigations.

The message to the elderly: Even those you might trust the most–your family and friends–are the ones who are in the best position to drain bank accounts and take over real estate of vulnerable senior citizens.

Sadly, these are the types of crimes most difficult to spot, as it seems from most distant observers that someone’s family or caregiver is working in the best interest of the vulnerable elder.

Financial elder abuse is on the rise per Consumer Reports’ investigation..

Nevertheless, senior citizens are the most vulnerable for scams. From forging to pleas for a loan to abuses of power of attorney.  When someone has power of attorney, they have unfettered access to your accounts. Someone who misuses those powers can decimate financial accounts, leaving them with virtually nothing.

To help prevent elder abuse:

  • Have bank and investment statements sent to a person you trust to monitor accounts.
  • Arrange for direct deposit and automatic bill pay.
  • Consult a reputable elder law attorney for advice on wills and limiting power of attorney.

Consumer Reports says there are good places to get help if you or an elderly relative is concerned about financial abuse, including the National Center on Elder Abuse, which has links to help and hotlines.

You can also get help for elders dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease or other memory loss issues, from the local Alzheimer’s Association.

West Seattle brothers allow father to rot to death

Every once in a while, I come across a story that is almost impossible for me to read because of the horrific details. This is one of those stories. which I came across in the Seattle P-I.

Sadly, the story is about a pair of local men, both in their 50’s, who lived rent-free in their father’s Alki/West Seattle home. All the while, Keith and Kenneth Shaw allowed their 86 year old father, Kyle Shaw, Jr. to waste away malnourished, dehydrated, and caked in filth.

King County prosecutors allege that the Shaw brothers refused to provide proper care to their father, so that they could inherit all of their parents savings.

Back in November 2010, another relative had called the paramedics to the Shaw house. The paramedics found Kyle Shaw in only a T-shirt and socks. The sock had grown into his feet, according to charging documents, as the elderly Shaw had been wearing the bloodied, feces-covered socks for at least a year.  At Swedish Medical Center, a doctor found  Mr. Shaw’s feet were rotting, along with suffering an array of life-threatening ailments.

A social service worker visited the Shaws, responding to a troublesome report from the Nov. 2010 hospital visit. Despite the fact that Kyle Shaw and his wife had large savings, enough to pay for Kyle’s care, the Shaw brothers balked at the idea. One of them said that doing so would force the other brother (who didn’t have a job) to “… end up homeless, living under the viaduct.”

Both men have been charged with second-degree criminal mistreatment. Neither has entered a plea yet.

State Run Group Homes Skate On Thin Ice

Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has given notice to King County SOLA (State Operated Living Alternatives). At present, the SOLA homes are now operating under what is called a “provisional certification.” In other words, administrators must prove that they are able to keep 50 vulnerable adults in these SOLAs healthy and safe. Otherwise, the program may shutdown.

An investigation that Susannah Frame of KING5 conducted (see below clip. “Repeat violations threaten shutdown of 13 state-run group homes”) reveal some cringe worthy details about a number of state run group homes in the Puget Sound and beyond.
According to KING5, 38 SOLA homes in Washington care for about 130 clients. These homes are in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Yakima, and Bremerton. The provisional certification was imposed in late July 2012, as the result of homes repeated violations and for citations of “serious deficiencies determined to jeopardize client’s health, safety and/or welfare.”  These serious deficiencies included instances of assault, neglect, and sexual assault.

There are 38 SOLA homes in the state which care for 130 clients. The homes are located in Tacoma, Bremerton, Yakima, Spokane and Seattle. They are unique in that they aren’t simply licensed by the state to operate as a group home; they are managed and run by state employees. The provisional certification only applies to the King County program.

About Kevin

Kevin Coluccio was recently named one of the Top 10 Super Lawyers in Washington State. He has long history of successful elder abuse/neglect cases and has a stellar reputation for getting results for his injury clients in serious car crashes, pedestrian accidents, trucking accidents, maritime claims, and asbestos injury cases.