Friday, September 6, 2019

Elder abuse seminar draws crowds to Inkster

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel heard about serious nursing home abuses, as well as problems with medical disability and hospital care during an Aug. 26 forum in Inkster.
Nessel recently announced a bipartisan Elder Abuse Task Force, after conferring with justices of the Michigan Supreme Court. Nessel told the packed room last week of earlier efforts, “What these task forces had been good at was identifying problems in the system.”
She works with co-chairs Justice Richard Bernstein and Justice Megan Cavanagh, state Supreme Court members, and others to address elder abuse. The group traveled the state on a listening tour “so we could hear from everybody in those communities,” said Nessel.

Issues varied in communities, and included guardianship problems in probate courts.
“I terminated a lot of the public administrators. And we're probably not done” with that,” Nessel said of the August decision.
Area residents spoke passionately about themselves and their loved ones, with Nessel saying being put in a nursing home should be a last resort for a family.
“It ought to be because there are no other options,” she said. The forum in Inkster also had senior advocates and legislators as panelists.
The attorney general urged residents to contact their legislators and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office about laws.
“These are nonpartisan issues. We might come from different backgrounds. The Good Lord willing, we're all going to be elderly someday,” she said.
Others on the panel at the Booker T. Dozier Recreation Center were State Rep. Jewell Jones, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, State Sen. Betty Jean Alexander, and Denise Champagne, Inkster Commission on Aging director.
Nessel acknowledged “holding for-profit nursing homes accountable” when understaffed, as well as advocating for a living wage in minimum wage pay.
Nessel noted some cases of guardians who sell a senior's home “right out from underneath them,” put that person in nursing home care, and sell the home well below market value.
She's concerned about guardians who have some 700 wards, which she learned on the listening tour. Some elderly people have their money and control of health matters taken over.
Nessel noted of some cases where a guardian “had total control to say your family members couldn't visit you.” She's encouraged by better efforts to train police departments and prosecuting attorneys statewide, some of which will be done via video.
Nessel, compared improvements in domestic violence cases, when law enforcement learned in the 1990s to interview the victim separately.
There are some 73,000 elder abuse victims annually, Nessel said.
“One of the things that horrified me was to see how quickly some of these hearings were held, Often, no qualified medical professional was asked to speak during hearings” she added.
The panelists were introduced by Jones of House District 11.
 “A lot of them live on fixed incomes. Worst of all, some of them are abused,” Jones said of elderly residents.
His district includes Inkster, Garden City and portions of Dearborn Heights, Livonia and Westland.