Watch Out for Well-Attired Caregivers

21 Jul

Sadly, elder abuse is far more common than most of us realize. It’s certainly not an unfamiliar concept to me. Both my mother and my late uncle were victimized by paid caregivers.

A few years ago,  my brother and I were given three hours notice that my mother was to be released from hospital but would require around-the-clock care for several months. We didn’t have a clue how to hire a care giver. All we knew was my mother really wanted to go home and the hospital wanted its bed back.  Lorna was the only applicant I spoke with and I hired her immediately. She seemed trustworthy and competent. And she was immediately available.

Lorna earned the family’s trust.  And then she started helping herself to my mother’s jewelry. When mom couldn’t find some favorite items, she suspected Lorna might have taken them. But like many seniors who are abused, my mother was ashamed to think she had been taken advantage of.  She was also afraid to say anything to my brother or I. Rightly so, my mother feared we would attribute her accusations to poor eyesight and dementia.

Lorna’s crimes were discovered when I showed up unannounced to see her after my mother asked her to leave. I was stunned to discover her wearing my mother’s a familiar ring and French silk scarf that my mother had been particularly fond of.   It took six months before my mother was willing to speak to the police about the theft.  By then, Lorna — if that even was her name — was long gone. Except for several long distance calls to Kingston, Jamaica on the next phone bill, we haven’t heard from her since.

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