Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Silent Crisis: Elder Abuse and Justice in America

My grandmother’s life intersected squarely with the unprecedented rise in life expectancy for all elders. This rise has also led to one of our greatest silent crises: elder abuse.

About same time Alzheimer’s began to cloud my grandmother's once sharp mind, she heard a knock on the door of her 3rd floor apartment in Des Moines, Iowa. She opened it to find a friendly salesman selling John F. Kennedy half-dollars made out of pure gold in a frame with a blue velvet backing. They made an exchange --she handed him a check for $900 and the swindler gave her one dollar in coins.

For millions of elderly people in the United States just like my grandmother, living longer has also meant living in silent fear, battered and beaten, preyed upon, often quieted by shame. Elder abuse is a prolific problem that comes in many forms – physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and financial exploitation, with many elders suffering more than just one type of abuse. Of the five million elders estimated to suffer abuse in the U.S. alone each year, the vast majority are subject to multiple forms of mistreatment. They are also three times more likely to die prematurely than those who are not victimized.

Yet, elder abuse is not perceived as a national tragedy. No one talks about it. Silence remains, in part, because many of our elders are isolated by and dependent on those who hurt them, and the perceived shame and stigma of disclosing that they are suffering at the hands of their own caregiver can act as a powerful silencer. But abuse also stays hidden because many older Americans don’t have the means or the capacity to report it.

At the rare times when elder abuse is publicly discussed, the conversations usually feature the voices Elder Justice advocates, social workers or journalists. A typical example is this CBS News report from 2006. Only occasionally do we get a glimpse into the elders' views which can be seen in this video taken at an elder justice rally.

Insights from these experts are critical in the fight to secure justice for older Americans but so is the wisdom from these elders themselves, and to date their voices have been absent from the debate that affects them most directly.

I was surprised to learn how deeply buried this issue is because elder abuse touches us all. It cuts across gender, social, racial, ethnic, economic and geographic lines - yet it’s rarely mentioned in social justice or human rights circles nationally or even internationally. Key UN documents from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the Millennium Development Goals omit any mention of age. And here at home the U.S Congress has yet to pass comprehensive federal legislation to protect our oldest members of society, placing it 20 years behind advocacy to protect children from abuse and 10 years behind the work to end domestic violence.

To address this colossal fissure in our laws, more than 500 members of the Elder Justice Coalition (EJC) have been vigilantly working over the course of the last decade to secure the passage of the Elder Justice Act (EJA) through Congress. Passing this Act will provide us with a foundation from which we can begin to protect our society’s elders because it will provide long-needed support for programs to help us understand how to prevent and detect abuse, intervene where it happens, treat victims with dignity and respect, and fairly prosecute perpetrators.

Yet despite the EJA’s principled objectives and many years of effort, one of the authors of the Act, Marie-Therese Connolly explains, “Comprehensive federal laws to combat child abuse and domestic violence have had an immense impact for decades. By contrast, the relatively uncontroversial Elder Justice Act has languished (in Congress) since 2002.” With the recent changes in Washington, now is the time to pass this act and give America’s elders the security, dignity and equality they deserve.

So why is this important to WITNESS? We are partnering with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) – which has been working on behalf of disadvantaged and vulnerable Elders for over 60 years - to bring the voices of Older Americans to this debate, heighten the visibility of Elder abuse, and end Congressional complacency. In addition to securing passage of the EJA, WITNESS and NCOA will work with Elder Justice organizations across the country, training activists in strategic video advocacy planning and giving them the skills necessary to collect stories of abuse to bring Elder Justice into the national conversation.

Once footage from across the country has been gathered and edited, we will collaborate to reach key Congressional representatives, the national media and our citizenry with compelling stories which will force us to face our elders, end our collective denial and pass the EJA.

WITNESS and NCOA are just beginning work on the planning of this video advocacy campaign. We'd like you to join in as we move forward with this campaign to pass the Elder Justice Act and showcase the voices of older Americans:

• Return to the Hub Blog for updates on the production process in the weeks and months ahead
• Sign up for the Video for Change newsletter for updates on the Elder Justice Campaign
• Read more about the work of the NCOA at, and
• Visit the site of the Elder Justice Coalition at

Most of all though, we ask you to listen as we bring the voices of American’s elders to you throughout this campaign. Please hear what they have to say. Respect their voice. Value their wisdom. Add yours.


President Obama, Please Help Us Stop Elderly Abuse and Exploitation by Our Judge's, Attorney's and Guardian"s

For mothers who experience isolation, mental abuse and liquidation of assets, by children who are Power of Attorney.

This Blog
Linked From Here
The Web
This Blog
Linked From Here
The Web

Sunday, September 20, 2009

365 Days of Isolation - One Year Anniversary of Mother's Isolation
Today, September 20, 2009, is the one year anniversary of the commencement of mother's isolation and control by her POA and other siblings.Yes, that is right, it has been 365 days since my mother has been isolated.We've had to file court papers to put a stop to this abuse.No family nor person should have to endure what some of my siblings have gone through.There is such control and isolation including monitoring of who my mother sees and talks to it is unbelievable. State agencies have not intervened. They do not want to get involved with the politics of such an issue by some who have political connections.The sad part is mother is being told what to say and do. She even has que cards of what to say by certain siblings.Mother's children can not see or talk to her, yet girlfriends and nephews and parents of in-laws can.We can only assume it is FINANCE ABUSE. Evidence has come forth and MORE TO COME, noting substantial withdraw of financial accounts (even before they have matured).In the mean time, MOTHER is still being isolated. NOW 365 days!We love our mother and FOR the LOVE of MOTHER we are fighting for her every day!We love you mom!!!
Posted by FOR the LOVE of MOTHER at 6:29 PM 0 comments
Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 349 of Mother's Isolation
It is now day 349 of Mother's isolation from her closest and dearest children. Mother has been isolated, coerced by siblings, coached and guarded 24/7.Liquidation of Mother's finances has occurred too. Yet, NOTHING has been done by the state. NOTHING. Our system of government has seriously broken down to even include the most vulnerable -- an elderly woman with dementia.Again, day 349 of mother being isolated and abused from her closest and dearest children.
Posted by FOR the LOVE of MOTHER at 6:24 PM 0 comments
Saturday, August 29, 2009

344 days of isolation and mental abuse of MOTHER
I am starting this blog today to see how many other families are witnessing and suffering from siblings as Power of Attorney (POA) and others, from isolating their mother from their closest and favorite siblings.So far for our family it has been 344 days, 11months & 10 days, 29,721,600 second, 495,360 minutes, 8256 hours or 49 weeks (rounded down) since mother got ill and when the POA and siblings started isolating mother from 7 of mother's children.FOR the LOVE of MOTHER we are working hard to defeat the system of government that does little to intervene and protect an elderly woman even after countless complaints have been filed by family members.We are praying daily for someone to help us see our mother. Siblings have been kicked out, been prevented from seeing mother, phone calls going unanswered while being monitored by other siblings (isolating mother from us) and so on.I seek others who have had NO or LITTLE help from state agencies. We have had very little help at all and our case has been closed noting "confidential."FOR THE LOVE OF MOTHER (we pray for help)!
Posted by FOR the LOVE of MOTHER at 2:38 PM 3 comments
Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)
Daughters united to save mother from isolationView my complete profile

Memories of Happiness

Shoreline couple headed to prison for ripping off elderly woman

Dying woman recovers, says relatives "robbed me blind"

Blog Archive
2009 (3)
September (2)
365 Days of Isolation - One Year Anniversary of Mo...
Day 349 of Mother's Isolation
August (1)
344 days of isolation and mental abuse of MOTHER

Elder Abuse
Elder Abuse News
Market Wire (press release) - Minister of State (Seniors) Speaks With Oshawa Seniors at Town ...
powered by

Thursday, March 19, 2009

President Barack Obama, Please, We Need To Meet With You A.S.A.P.


Robert Sarhan, MD
22795 S.W. 212 Ave
Miami, Fl 33170
Tel.No. 305-338-6160

Bonnie Reiter
809 Par Circle
DelrayBeach,Fl 33445
Tel.No 561-502-4700
Dear ACLU,
We believe that the State of Florida is a government body which is illegally stripping the civil rights of a specific group of people, mainly the elderly, who may also have some physical disabilities. This should fall under The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The courts are forcing the elderly into an Emergency Temporary Guardianship (ETG), labeling these persons Alleged Incapacitated Person (AIP) under the guise of providing ‘assistance.’ These same courts never verify the allegations of imminent danger, who made the allegations, and why the allegations were made to the courts. Instead, the courts routinely strip the civil rights away from elders who have property, assets and income, and remand the same elders into a forced guardianship against their will. Subsequently “professional guardians” are in a position to steal assets under the guise of professional guardianship fees, with no monitoring or oversight, and are forcing these same elderly people to pay for the legal fees generated by the guardians to pay the lawyers who represent these guardians. This outrageous guardianship scheme is out of control. It is kidnapping and the carnage is not just financial: it is emotional abuse and at times results in wrongful or premature death.
It is those elders who have assets who are being denied their civil rights at the hands of a three-person panel, appointed by the courts. This panel consists of a psychiatrist, psychologist, and a lay person. These people are from a small pool, at the discretion of Judges, with no monitoring or oversight. Normal procedures which strip a person of his/her civil rights would require a court to involve a jury of people that are unbiased. The courts are therefore violating the elder’s 7th Amendment right to a trial by jury. The probate courts have substituted this constitutional right and have replaced it with a pool of people who are chosen by a judge. These judges then routinely use the same people over and over again. The fees generated by the court-appointed guardians and their attorneys are paid out of the ward’s assets, another violation of a civil right. The loss of the right to control your assets is the first major civil right that is violated by the court.
In Palm Beach County, a court-ordered psychiatrist and a psychologist are paid 300 dollars to visit an elder person for 15 minutes. No witnesses are allowed at this interview. The lay person is paid 75 dollars for their 15 minute interview. All fees are paid by the AIP. No notes, no recording, no stenographer are required to substantiate their findings. This is a clear violation of our 14th Amendment which is the Constitutional Rights of Due Process.
Their right to counsel is severed in the ETG stage, denying their right to private counsel and funds for such counsel to protect their own rights. On the simple report made by each of these three people, the elderly are routinely forced into guardianship, which strips them of all their civil rights. They are no longer allowed to make decisions concerning their own medical, housing, family, social, financial, and legal wishes. When family or friends of the adjudicated incapacitated person (AIP) attempt to stop this illegal act, they are shut down and shut out of the legal process, often being told they have no legal standing. Now even family and friends lose their civil rights to address the court. The AIP is told they cannot have their own counsel, but is forced to use the court’s counsel.
Court-appointed lawyers are often picked by their favorite judges to take cases, while at the same time having relationships which are adverse in nature to the wards. For example, a lawyer can be appointed to represent a ward they do not know, while at the same time representing the guardian in other cases, who are adverse to the AIP, which are a conflict of interest and a violation of due process. This conflict of interest is rampant in guardianship cases. Lawyers who deal with guardianship issues have dealings with various professional associations. This incestuous behavior is being encouraged and allowed by the courts, which ultimately is a violation of the 14th Amendment of due process and the 6th Amendment, a right to counsel.
Many guardianship’s begin during a process called Emergency Temporary Guardianship.
This happens when someone, anyone, comes to the court and makes accusations that some elderly person is in imminent danger. No attempt is made by the court to verify in any way that these allegations are true. ETG should be illegal for they are the number one reason why the elderly are rendered with no civil rights. ETG strips civil rights away without due process, which leaves the elderly without the assurance of legal counsel.
Very often elderly people have proper documentation and pre-need directives but the courts routinely ignore or refuse to admit these documents.
The Courts are violating the following Elder’s Constitutional Rights:
The 1st Amendment Right to Freedom of Religion, of Speech, of the Press, to Petition
and to Assemble:
The Constitutional Right to Freedom of Religion is being abused by the Courts in forced guardianship cases, as the guardians prevent the elderly from practicing their respected religion in their chosen houses of worship (Synagogue, Churches, Mosque, etc.), a violation of the Florida Statute 744.3215. The elderly are also denied the right to socialize and to congregate with their family and friends. The Courts have denied the elder’s Rights of Freedom of Speech while in the majority cases the elderly people are kept out of the courtrooms by the Guardians, denying their Right to Counsel and denying their Rights to the Courts. In the majority of these guardianship cases, the court-appointed counsel has represented the guardian previously or works together and is only their representing the Ward to ensure he/she does not have legitimate counsel that will fight for her freedom.
The 4th Amendment Right to Unreasonable Search and Seizures
The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution gives Americans, including the elderly people, the Right to Privacy in their own homes. Guardians violate this Constitutional Right by seizing elders’ assets, selling their personal property, their homes, their jewelry, etc. If the elder has a large sum of money, the guardian will force the elder, against his/her will, to have a stranger or an ‘aide’ live in their home, charging them well over one hundred thousand dollars per year, instead of allowing a family member to care for the elderly for free. In many cases these strangers steal many belongings from the elderly. The elderly have no rights to the Courts, so they are powerless to do anything.
The 5th and 14th Amendment The Right of Due Process
The Courts violate the Elder Rights of Due Process. In over 97 % of these cases, the Courts are ordering these elderly people into forced guardianship against their will, when these people are fully competent to determine who they wish to care for them. In 1989 the Associated Press did a study of 2200 guardianship cases with the American Bar Association in which they clearly stated that these elderly people were very competent to determine who they wanted as guardians, which normally was a family member, but were denied by the courts. The Court appointed attorneys are not representing their clients, but taking these cases to ensure that these elderly people are remanded into the guardianship cases to be stripped of all their assets. In over a five year study of these guardianship cases, the court appointed attorney had a conflict of interest and should not have taken the guardianship case to represent the ward or the guardian. (For example, the attorney is representing the guardian in one case and at the same time he is also representing the ward in another case, who is adverse to that same guardian, which is a conflict of interest and a violation of the Florida Rules Regulating the Florida Bar 4-1.7.) This is a common practice which taints the entire capacity proceedings in favor of the Guardians and Attorneys to strip the elderly of all their assets.

The 6th Amendment The Right Counsel
The elderly are being forced to use court-appointed attorneys. The elder is then ruled incapacitated, stripped of all civil rights and denied the right to hire his/her own attorney. The elder is rendered helpless, with no attorney to speak for them. Congressman Claude Pepper stated: “It is a National Disgrace…that once you’re in a guardianship, it is almost impossible to get them out.”
The 7th Amendment The Right to a Jury
Since 1982 the guardianship program has failed horribly, destroying lives in the process.
In thousands of guardianship cases few, if any, elderly people were ever afforded a right to a trial by jury. The court-appointed attorney never informs the elderly person of his/her right to a jury trial.
The main power point: Judges are allowing hearings via their "roll call" and exparte petitions which set in motion the ability of probate judges to rule immediately or set a 5 minute hearing whereby the petitioner asks for a person of "age" to be placed into an ETG, thereby remanding the elder to be classified legally an AIP. These hearings are done without the potential "ward" ever being notified legally, therefore NO due process. The potential ward is being placed into the AIP status rendering them with fewer rights than felons on death row. They are stripped of their rights BEFORE they even have an appearance before the court. This unconstitutional act by the judges must be abolished immediately. Once the rights have been stripped, the "ward" is subjected to medical interviews, ordered by the court using tainted court "pools" of so called professionals. These unannounced interviews are NOT being monitored or acknowledged to the Apathies report is then used against the AIP to adjudicate their "incapacitated" status at another 5 minute hearing where again the AIP is almost NEVER allowed to attend and the process is facilitated by the complicit consent of the "court appointed" attorney ad item who is not truly representing the wishes of the ward.
In conclusion, this is the GREATEST SINGLE ABUSE OF CIVIL RIGHTS which
has affected our Parent’s generation, but will affect all generations to come. This statute is
Unconstitutional and has already destroyed many elderly lives and their families. Please allow
us to present our case to you, please, before my mother dies and becomes another
victim of premature death by chemical poisoning. We all believe in CHANGE but I need your
Help, please meet with us A.S.A.P. Robert Sarhan, M.D. 305-338-6160

1. Abuses in Guardianship of the Elderly and Infirm: A National Disgrace. A Report by the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health and Long-Term Care of the Select Committee on Aging. House of Representatives, One Hundredth Congress, First Session.

2. The Elderly in Guardianship: A Crisis of Constitutional Proportions - Mark D. Andrews. The guardianship system is in a state of crisis as it continues to ... - 10k

3. Stolen Lives Thousands of older Americans are being robbed of their freedom, dignity, and life savings by a legal system created for their protection. ... - 33k - Cached - Similar pages

4. The Gulag of Guardianship The legal system that is supposed to protect our frail elderly is a national disgrace. All too often it strips them of their rights and leaves them open to financial abuse.


6. Associated Press 1987, Guardianships in America, A National Disgrace

7. National Association to stop guardian abuse

8. National association to stop elderly abuse and exploitation