Detective Allen arrived promptly at my office to our 1:00 pm meeting as promised. We exchanged cards sitting for an interview regarding allegations made by my client’s evening staff to Adult Protective Services and then to Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) concerning an adult family member’s exploitation and abuse. Responding to Detective Allen’s questions as to when I began working with my clients, what my role was as a care manager, and questions about the care giving duties of the two caregivers in question, I politely responded to the answers he was looking for because it wasn’t a simple open and shut case. The detective wanted to know about my client’s mental capacity and I smiled, remembering how each month when he was invoiced, he’d only pay the dollar amount (never paying the cents on the invoice) always rounding down to the lower dollar amount. He always knew exactly what he was doing, thoroughly enjoying the game he played each month and it was always good for a laugh! The detective laughed stating this was very telling as to his mental capacity. Although never a suspect, I was asked the last time I saw my clients and jumped at the opportunity to explain the circumstances that led to my resignation as a care manager to this lovely couple and why. You must understand this was not meant to be a witch hunt. I was only interested in telling the truth as documented in my company’s records. As a former nursing home assistant administrator, I was trained to believe that “if you don’t write it, it didn’t occur” making me a stickler for keeping thorough notes during the 8 years I was in business.
There, I blurted it out, “I don’t believe the girls stole anything from my client” explaining what I personally witnessed on a visit to the bank with my client that same last day. You see I was asked as a special favor to take his wife to a hairdresser appointment next door to the bank and to meet the client at the bank next door. Because of the family member’s allegations he wanted me present while he spoke to the bank manager. I was asked where the caregiver was at the time, to which I replied that the caregiver was seated in the bank’s waiting room while the client spoke with the bank manager in a cubicle. Because the family member had recently been making allegations about forged checks, he included the branch manager on a telephone conversation in our presence causing the bank’s operation manager to interrupt the phone call due to his abrasiveness. While in the bank I observed how much money my client was disbursed in cash and witnessed a reimbursement he made to the caregiver in my presence for purchases she had made at the grocery store. I witnessed the client put the rest of his money into two bank envelopes and in his pocket leaving to pick up his lovely spouse at the hairdresser. The events of that night just put me in a state of shock as I revealed the rest of that night’s events to the detective.
That evening at approximately 6 pm I received a call from the client who had been receiving dialysis, asking me to pick him up and take him home because his son was “out of his mind firing his girls.” I explained that the client used his cell phone as he was out of the house at an appointment and because both caregivers were let go he had no method of transportation home. I picked him up, drove him home, encountering a locksmith in the midst of changing all the locks as the car was parked. As written in my very detailed notes I went on to explain how the family member completely wiped out my client’s contact list from his cell phone and how they got into a very ugly match and the son’s nasty response to my own objection of disrespecting his father’s rights. But the greatest voice coming from the living room at that point was my client’s wife who suffered with dementia and now in tears when she heard “her parents” had been removed from the home. She cried, “I want my parents, please bring me my parents!” Her repeated cries for her caregivers who had been quickly terminated without evidence, who had worked for this family for so many years, who were known to this regal lady as her parents was too much to bear.
Having told the detective of my refusal to leave until the family member left due to my own suspicion, I proceeded to relate that after the clients were put to bed I personally witnessed the son going through his dad’s locked desk drawer, removing all financial contents such as credit cards, checks, $7000 remaining cash from the earlier bank transaction, and keys to the car leaving him nothing of value. I felt safe to leave for the night immediately afterwards, returning to my office to enter notes while it was all fresh in my mind. To my relief Detective Allen assured me that the son would be investigated because he had accessed his parent’s property that night, explaining how some adult children with power of attorney mistakenly believe that they have complete control over their parent’s decision-making before declaring them incapacitated in a court of law. I printed a copy of my notes for the detective and we stayed in touch by email until the end of the case.
A week later I again heard from the detective who wanted to inform me that the son had accused another caregiver of having taken the $7000 (after I witnessed him remove the cash from his father’s desk drawer that night). The detective asked me to remain in contact with PBSO if there was something that later came to mind related to the case which I assured I would do.
Having had some actual guardianship experience some years after this occurred, I see the value now of having a court appointed guardian assigned under similar circumstances. Some time after the unfortunate event discussed here, the client called from a hospital asked for my help but since I was no longer on the case, recommended an elder law attorney visit him in the hospital. The following day I presented with the attorney who worked out the best solution, appointing a guardian to the case under voluntary guardianship. Unfortunately, the client passed away soon after, the regal wife suffering with dementia was placed in a nursing home, and the PBSO case was closed. All in a day’s work of the geriatric care manager and one that I will never forget.
Of interest is the fact that this seems to be a very common occurrence not only in South Florida but throughout the country. Why is it that at the end of our lives seniors become subjected to hurtful behavior from those we raised, educated, and loved? I have also been recently subjected to this and it just boggles the mind. What is causing our youth such hatred in this day and age? I’d love to hear your comments.
# # #
Posted 7th Feb 2016 by Olga Brunner