Family and friends of a 91-year-old man who lived alone sensed something was wrong. They, however, ignored their gut feeling and failed to confirm his wellbeing. Meanwhile, the man was neglected and bilked to the tune of almost $1 million in less than two years by his caregiver. The court in this case, Angelina Alhadi v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, describes the man’s family efforts in overseeing his welfare:
Dr. Marsh [91-year-old man] wasn’t yet wholly isolated. He’d always been particularly close to one niece, Sheila Person. But Ms. Person lived in Seattle and had her own life there. As her uncle grew old, however, she made it a habit to call him every Sunday night to check in. After Ms. Alhadi [caregiver] entered his life, her success in reaching him became sporadic. By 2008 Ms. Person found it even more difficult to get in touch. Ms. Alhadi would answer the phone and tell her that her uncle was asleep or eating, and sometimes the phone would just ring and ring with no answer. By the end of the summer of 2008, neither Ms. Person nor Dr. Marsh’s other family members were able to get through Ms. Alhadi to talk to Dr. Marsh at all.
The court describes the man’s deep roots and thick bond in the community in which he had lived for more than 50 years:
Dr. Marsh also set down deep roots in his town [Gilroy, California]. He joined civic associations like the Rotary Club, grew thick connections in his profession, and was a faithful member of his local church.
The condition of the man’s home as described by the court, quoting testimony of a witness:
“The appliances were old, the sink was old, the cabinets were old, but on top of being old they were not clean. He had two little like dorm size refrigerators, and one was on the floor, and it was a freezer, and the other–I [witness] assume it was a freezer because there was ice, it was overfrosted, and there was ice coming out of the door, and it couldn’t shut, and there was a trail of ants, and the food that was in this freezer that was on the floor was rotten.”
She [witness] saw greasy pots and pans, broken utensils and nothing but stale food “and just sparse things.”
She [witness] looked into his bedroom and: “whatever was in the drawers, everything that was close to the front was stained with urine that he had spilled down it because he would either maybe try to get to the bathroom and not make it and then use the urinal that he had resting on his dresser and nobody had ever bothered to clean this.”
She looked in the bathroom and found it: “really filthy . . . . We pulled up the bath mat because it was older and I wanted to get a new one I thought, you know, just to get the bathroom cleaned up. Underneath it, there was gelled mold all under this bath mat, which told me that nobody was also cleaning the bathroom.”
The man’s family and friends knew nothing about the abuse until they were informed by the authorities. Tragically, had one friend or family member visited him, the man would have been rescued from the abuse sooner.
Better safe than sorry! Protect your friends and family by taking the necessary actions, some of which are suggested below, to ensure their wellbeing and safety.
ACTIONS TO PROTECT FAMILY AND FRIENDS FROM NEGLECT AND FINANCIAL ABUSE:
- Talk on the phone directly with the elder.
- Communicate with the elder via video such as Skype and FaceTime.
- Visit the elder’s home.
- Call the local police in city where the elder lives to ask for a welfare check.
- Contact Adult Protective Services.
- Hire an independent care manager to oversee the caregivers’ services.
- Plan in advance for anticipated needs.
- Use services provided by reputable companies.