With a growing number of baby boomers entering advanced age, what should be a person’s golden years can turn into a nightmare. Recent investigative reporting has delved into the seedy underbelly of senior care in the United States.
As each state battles the increasing cost of taking care of its elderly population, the inadequacies of the system are beginning to show. One of the biggest failures comes with the guardianship process.
Short cuts taken by overburdened courts, loopholes that allow unscrupulous individuals to care for seniors and underfunded oversight agencies all contribute to the abuses of guardianships.
Cases of abuse are rampant – all over the United States
In one case, a 50-year old woman incurred a brain injury when falling down the stairs. She did not have a health care directive, so a guardian was appointed by the court. He placed her in a group home for the mentally ill. When she recovered from her injury, the guardian had already sold her home and dispensed the assets. She had no rights. It took over two years and a lengthy legal battle to restore them.
In another case, an elderly Nevada couple with no cognitive issues and who lived independently, lost all their rights and were moved far from home. The couple was taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian with criminal intent. The guardian petitioned the court Ex Parte (without them knowing) and took over full guardianship.
The guardian sold off their assets, paid herself handsomely and shut the couple away in a nursing facility. Meanwhile the couple’s daughter had little recourse. Again, the legal fight to restore their rights was arduous.
Things you can do to reduce the chances of this type of elder abuse:
- Get a durable power of attorney and a healthcare advance directive, in advance of any health issues or emergencies.
- Communicate your plans and wishes with family and create a long-term care plan.
- Research your state’s laws and guardianship process.
- Don’t put your head in the sand about the worst case scenario.
If you are dealing with an issue of guardianship or long-term care either for yourself or a family member, make sure to consult an attorney who focuses on elder law.