Last Saturday I was at a meeting which hoped to alert those of us in attendance to what some are calling the most unreported crime of our day, that being the fleecing of our elderly by some unscrupulous members of our society.
One woman told of her personal experience dealing with her father who was recently widowed and was suffering from dementia. Her father was a strong, independent and stubborn individual who refused to move out of his home. He did not want to live with his children nor go into a senior residence. We’ve all known people like this. He allowed a woman into his home to “help him” and in a short time she managed to isolate him from his family, managed to be a co-signer on his bank accounts and have him deed all his extensive properties to her.
While all this was going on, his children tried to get the authorities involved, but since he was considered “of sound mind,” the authorities couldn’t do anything. His kids were advised to see a lawyer, but even that would be fruitless as their father was adamant he was just fine.
Ultimately, the woman moved their father to another state and literally left him on a street corner, broke and disoriented.
If you think this is an unfortunate but isolated case, you’d be wrong. There have been numerous cases reported throughout the country and it is estimated that there are countless more that have not been reported. Victims don’t want to admit they’ve been duped or, more importantly, that they can’t manage their own affairs. Also, their families do not want to be judged by society as not being aware or of doing nothing to stop the abuse.
Currently this is considered a civil matter in the courts. There are two legislative proposals being put forth to change Penal Code Sections 368 & 368.5. The proposals ask that the person be assessed by two different doctors, medical records be accessible to the police and the abuse be considered a crime, not a civil matter as it stands now. With these stipulations in place, police will then have the tools to judge the person’s competency and hopefully make the right judgment call.
Please consider writing your legislators to endorse the changes to California Penal Code Sections 368 & 368.5. Remember, this can happen to you or a loved one.
Rosalie Wohlfromm 2/22/17