There are a number of individuals and groups around the country who try to gain access to the assets of the elderly in various illegitimate ways. Local news for Orlando reported on a controversial guardianship program in Florida that allows certain court appointed individuals to make decisions for those in nursing homes and other elderly individuals who can no longer take care of themselves.
Guardianship program needs reform after theft and mistreatment
This program essentially allows the guardian to make all financial and medical decisions for the person, and their choices will override other family members or even a medical professional’s wishes. One story involved a woman’s mother in law who was constantly transferred between different nursing homes by the guardian until she died of a stroke. The family was frustrated by not being able to say or do anything to change this process. There have even been specific advocacy groups formed to attempt to prevent and stop elderly abuse by the court appointed guardians, who often have no relationship to the person they care for.
Another controversial case in the Orlando area involved one woman who was given hundreds of guardianship contracts from a nursing home worth over $100,000. She had signed off on a massive amount of do not resuscitate orders for all of them and had numerous conflicts of interest within the contracts. She had even submitted duplicate bills to healthcare providers, which were paid and fulfilled, for unnecessary services. At least one of the people under her care died while a family member was fighting to have the do not resuscitate order removed.
The Florida Department of Elderly Affairs, which managers the guardianship program, is currently asking for more money from the state to deal with complaints and investigations regarding illegitimate services provided by guardians.
How to spot abuse by guardians or nursing home employees
It is important for family members to get involved by researching a facility and taking note of who is spending time around elderly family members. A huge red flag is when someone outside of the family suddenly starts spending lots of time with an elderly person. They may be asking for large amounts of money or trying to exploit them in other less obvious ways. Even court appointed guardians or nursing home employees may be guilty of this tactic.
Signs of physical abuse and neglect may be manifested in an unkempt appearance or sudden declines in health. Many residents in deficient nursing homes will develop serious health problems or even die within the first year or two of entering the facility.
Civil lawsuits against those responsible
In addition to contacting the police for acts such as physical abuse against the elderly or theft, it is possible to file a civil lawsuit to receive compensation as well. An experienced elder abuse lawyer can make sure a guardian, nursing home, or whoever else is responsible has to pay for harms caused by their neglect or deception.
Get help from a local lawyer in the Orlando area
If you need assistance from an attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse cases, contact The Aikin Family Law Group. They can provide advice and guidance for a number of different issues.