On My Soap Box
By Rana Goodman
April 2015
I would like to give you a brief update on the people I wrote about last month, one is great news, the other not so much.

If you recall I spoke of a veteran who had been hospitalized for a short time in California only to come home and find his wife had been placed under the care of a private guardian she neither needed nor wanted. The situation ended with legal action after several attempt to fire them failed.. Within days after our February edition came out with the "be very afraid" cover, his attorney was contacted with an offer to drop the opposition’s legal fees from $14,000 to $5,000 and no more guardianship. A victory indeed.

The couple we featured, who were snapped up and legally kidnapped by their guardian, who surprised them with a knock on their door one evening have not fared as well I'm sorry to say.

Early this month they were moved from a pleasant assisted living facility to a much less quality one in Las Vegas where the couple went from a nice sized two room apartment to sharing one small room.

 Visitation, we were told, with their only child had been limited by their guardian and the mother soon ended up in the hospital where she currently remains. Her daughter also was soon hospitalized but is now recovering slowly. Our prayers go out to them and we hope the family unit can have some semblance of unity soon.

I thought about the interviews we conducted over the past few weeks and although some of the people were well meaning, it still hit me that most of the time the assumption was that the family was always looking for way to abuse or steal from the senior and the guardians were always good and caring.

I have to believe there are far more people that have cared for their parents and family members as I have, and, just as in the case of child abuse, elder abusers are the minority among family members. I feel certain that most of us were raised to honor and respect our elders and we do just that.

I live in a senior community, one of the first things I discovered upon moving here years ago was the amount of people who cared for a parent living with them or nearby. A lady named Elizabeth Swan’s neighbors and daughter would gather to celebrate her birthday starting, as I remember with her 100th. Children, grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren traveled from California to hold a party for her. Mayor Hafen, Council Woman Debra March came two years in a row to honor her. She was 103 when she passed, no care giver, no guardian…The neighbor fixed things at her house for her daughter, who in turn took care of Elizabeth.

Also in my community we have a have a group called Golden Girls, it is made up of daughters caring for their elder mothers and once a month they have a group luncheon to celebrate together, no guardian needed for these elders, just daughters and friends taking care of them with love and patience. In contrast, I received a phone call a few days ago from a lady asking for help for her neighbor who, was a widow,  like our Elizabeth. The neighbors in her cul-de-sac had been caring for her, doing odd jobs, and mowing the lawn. They wrote out her checks, even taking turns cleaning the house. No one seemed to mind, the lady was sort of a community project, “to watch over her” they said. Someone however called the Department of Ageing. An investigator came to interview the lady and the neighbors, telling all no guardianship was indicated and noting how nice it was to see the neighbors caring for her needs. My called went on to recite how, several days later she was whisked off to court and a guardian appointed against her wishes.

Taking care of my mother was no walk in the park, but she was my mother and I loved her with all my heart. Like those of you who have been care-givers know, it can be very stressful at times. There were days that I would sit in my office paying my bills, then her bills and she would come down the hall with her little walker. She would hand me the envelope from the Publisher’s Clearing House and say “Rana look, it says I have won.” I would run the highlighter over the words YOU MAY HAVE WON.

She would walk away mumbling that I didn’t know what I was talking about. Then she would get nasty and start calling me names… Most of the time I would try to tune it out because I knew she didn’t mean it. Finally though, I have to admit I told her doctor and the doctor gave me a mild anti-depressant prescription. She said being a caregiver is very hard. BUT… she didn’t call elder services and have them get a guardian, this was my mother, my job and she know I would care for her lovingly until the end... That is what FAMILY is about. For all the stress no one will ever convince me that a stranger can take better care of our loved ones that family can. What is that you said, they may be better bookkeepers, NOPE! That is what accountants are for. Believe me, I was far more careful with my mother’s accounts than I am with my own.

There were many days too where my mother would have me in stiches of laughter too, more often than the stressful times. Mom was 92 and I suggested that we go to the recreation center, have dinner and see if we could play some cards. Her instant reply was dinner would be great, she loved Trumpets Restaurant, but cards, “NO way, the people up here were too damn old, let’s go to the Mirage.”