One day last week, my stepfather, Bob, received a visitor. It was a former occasional caregiver who said she was stopping by to say hello and see how he was doing. "It's so nice to see an old friend!" she said warmly. She reminded him that her name was Kim. Bob was delighted to have company and they had a nice chat. Then, she asked him for money. "I'd like to borrow fifty dollars," Kim said.
My stepfather is a kind and generous man. He might have given her money, but he didn't have any cash. She left. When I called him later that day, he told me about the visit. I was incensed that Kim had asked him for money, so I called Bob's care coordinator, Stacey. Stacey was perplexed, because she didn't, and hadn't, had an employee named Kim.
A few days later, Stacey called to say she'd gotten to the bottom of it all. "Kim" was really a woman named Melissa Daniels. She'd already been arrested for exploitation of the elderly in April, but was at it again. My stepfather might not have been the only "old friend" in his building she'd visited that day.
Think how easy that might have been for "Kim." She would have gotten the money, and maybe more, and never returned. Bob wouldn't have had a way or the means to find her. Or, even worse, she might have come back with friends...
Melissa Daniels has been caught again this time. But she's a repeat offender so she'll be back on the prowl most likely.
Financial exploitation of the elderly - abuse - is alive and well. In the last two years, my parents experienced a lot of it: money was stolen, their wedding rings were stolen, food and household goods were pilfered regularly, many caregivers told them about their personal difficulties and then asked for "loans." One asked for a thousand dollars. One caregiver's friend came with a gun and shot it in my parents' home.
If you have elders who employ caregivers, make sure you are involved and watchful. Your elders are vulnerable and care giving is a profession that attracts people with bad intentions. BE INVOLVED.