Finally! News you can use for seniors!

From the Editor’s Desk


In most states, if a son, a daughter, or a caretaker:

locks Mom up in her bedroom, blocks her access to the telephone, withholds her personal mail, and refuses to allow her to see her friends and members of her family, that’s a crime, and the perpetrator(s) may be criminally charged, tried, and convicted of elder abuse. But, if Mom is under guardianship, and her guardian forces her into a nursing home against her will and the will of her family, denies Mom a phone, and isolates her from her friends, family, and loved ones, that’s considered “care.”

Guardians currently have the power to isolate the very people whose lives they are supposed to be caring for and protecting. They can do this without the knowledge of the court and without having to justify their actions. In fact, isolation provides an effective and commonly used weapon to wield against any family member who complains about a guardian or the guardian’s decisions.

When a professional or private guardian abuses a person under his or her control, defining it as “protection,” that guardian is immune or quasi-immune from prosecution.

Much to their credit, every member of both the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives voted yea to the NASGA~Falk Coalition bill criminalizing wrongful isolation and expanding the definition of “caretaker” to include court-appointed guardians and conservators as well as attorney-in-fact.  This was an absolutely huge step forward in the protection of Rhode Island’s current and future senior population, which is the 11th highest in the country at 16.8 % of their total population.

The bill then went to the desk of Governor Gina M. Raimondo, who after some tweeting in her ear by some of her favored “special interest” birdies, chose to veto the bill.

Those birdies were:

  • Maureen Maigret, chair of the Aging in the Community Subcommittee of the Long-Term Care Coordinating Council,
  • Meg Underwood, Rhode Island Senior Center Directors Association,
  • Kathy McKeon, Catholic Social Services, go somewhere else.
  • Kathy Heren, Rhode Island Long Term Care ombudsman,
  • Elder advocates and advocates for Rhode Islanders with Disabilities,
  • The Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs, and
  • The Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and the Hospitals.

You might call them and ask why their special interests are more important than the safety of Rhode Island’s senior citizens. If they tell you the law would have discouraged people from becoming guardians, tell them that is rubbish—tough laws do not change the decision-making of honest people, they just make the bad apples go somewhere else to wreak their evil doings.

So, if you are a Rhode Islander who is unfortunate enough to find yourself in a position where one of your parents or a loved one under the control of a court-appointed guardian or attorney-in-fact is being denied the emotional support and companionship of those they love, or if it should happen to you personally, remember: