Richard, my longtime elderly friend and neighbor passed away last week. He had no children and only had a brother-in-law in the East Bay that periodically helped him.
He was admitted to assisted care two years ago after a fall and hated it. I and some kind hearted close neighbors (including his brother-in-law) brought him home and found day nurses to watch over him. He recovered from his fall and became able to live on his own once again. He still had to have someone come to his home to clean and prepare meals.
Richard's temperament was that of a "grouchy old man." Not to me or his friends, but to the people who were hired to take him shopping, clean and cook for him. He fired several people before he found one that he trusted.
When I visited Richard, he told me of his fears of bringing a stranger into his home. He claimed that the first caregiver took money from his wallet. He said he could not prove it, but he was convinced it happened. He then showed me a grocery receipt that one caregiver had left in the bag that showed the sale of a case of beer. Problem was, Richard didn't drink alcohol.
Richard's experience is minuscule compared to today's headlines of elder abuse and embezzlement by caregivers.
If you have elderly friends or family members, stay in close contact with them. Recently a caregiver on the peninsula was arrested for stealing close to $60,000 from an elderly woman.
Make no mistake: not all caregivers are awful people. The few people that commit these ugly crimes put a cloud on the the honest and caring individuals that treat their patients with dignity and respect.
Just few ideas that may protect your elderly friends and family members:
- Visit as often as you can, let them know you care
- If possible, interview caregiver with your elderly parent/freind and be sure they have a tax ID #
- You are also able to check on line of any issues through the San Mateo County Court House website
With a heavy heart I say farewell to you, Richard. I will miss seeing you waving out the window each morning as I walk my doggie past your house. You will forever be remembered.