On October 1, 2011, after a stringent application process, Dawn Walters sat for the National Master Guardian examination, proctored in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On November 30, she was honored by the notification that she passed this intensive exam and has been certified as a National Master Guardian. The Center for Guardianship Certification describes a Master Guardian as possessing “knowledge of advanced guardianship concepts and ethics” and being on the “cutting edge of guardianship issues”.
Read the notification letter here.
Attorney General Alert
PHOENIX (Tuesday, August 2, 2011) — Attorney General Tom Horne today announced the charging of Rosario Valenzuela Bravo in Tucson on allegations stemming from a large scale theft from vulnerable adult victims.
The charges, filed July 12, 2011 in Pima County are a result of a joint investigation conducted by the Tucson Police Department, the Attorney General’s Special Investigations Section, and the Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud and Abuse Section of the Criminal Division.
Bravo, 55, was charged with 1 count of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices, 3 counts of Forgery and 1 count of Theft/Financial Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult.
According to the allegations, Rosario Bravo purported herself to be a licensed CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and was hired by the elderly victims to provide daily care in their home. In February, 2011 a family member realized that several of the victims’ accounts had been tampered with. An investigation ensued into the checking, savings and money market accounts as well as credit cards belonging to the victims. An accounting of the fraudulent transactions revealed a loss of over $60,000. The State has alleged that Ms. Bravo is responsible.
“These allegations demonstrate how important it is for this office to be vigilant in pursuing criminal predators who harm the most vulnerable among us,” Horne said. “For people to abuse their position of trust and steal from the very person they have been asked to care for is a particularly offensive crime and I am committed to prosecuting these types of cases vigorously.”
These charges are merely allegations, and Rosario Valenzuela Bravo is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
This case was referred to and is being prosecuted by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office Health Care Fraud and Abuse Section of the Criminal Division.
A photo of the defendant can be seen at the following link:
Buckeye Elder Resources Group meets again in November (4th & 17th), 9:00-10:00 a.m.
Who: Anyone facing challenges of aging are welcome.
What: The group’s goal to provide linkages and resources to community members in the Southwest Valley who need support with self care, healthy aging, caregiving, education, life planning, transitions due to aging, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, etc.
Where: Buckeye Senior Center, 201 E. Centre, Buckeye, AZ.
More Information: (623) 386-3963
Download Flyer: BERG2 Flyer
Area Agency on Aging, Region One, Incorporated (AAA) increased funding of the Buckeye Area Agency on Aging contract by $5,100 to provide needed equipment and supplies at the Community Center. AAA also replaced a 2006 Eldorado Bus with a 2010 model used for transportation services.
Source: Town Manager’s Weekly Report, April 5, 2011
It is generally obvious when I get involved with older people who need a guardian or other surrogate decision maker that “decline in executive functioning precedes memory impairment” as theorized in this 2007 article. I know there are more recent studies that have corroborated the theory.
Usually by the time friends and neighbors begin observing memory loss in a loved one, the brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s or another dementia has been wreaking havoc in the person’s personal affairs for years. By the time I get appointed, I find disorganization in personal papers going back 4 years or more where the person’s files for the 50 years prior were impeccably kept. We often find property taxes unpaid for multiple years, unclaimed property, uncashed refund checks that are years old, etc.
With so many bills being on auto-pay these days, a person can be highly impaired before anyone ever notices because the lights and water aren’t getting shut off, which would have been an early warning sign in prior years.
It is important to talk with your loved ones about planning for incapacity before it is too late. Don’t assume that you can wait until it’s needed to get a power of attorney drafted. It may be too late by the time you notice a problem. A stroke can come on suddenly and lead to profound impairment.
Thoughtful advance planning through powers of attorney, trusts, and directives to physicians are the best way to avoid the intrusiveness of the probate system. A qualified professional such as a licensed fiduciary can serve as agent in the absence of another qualified individual, applying the same ethical standards and best practices recommended in the Fiduciary Code of Conduct. Don’t leave your affairs or the affairs of your loved ones up to the probate system if you can avoid it. Private arrangements allow the protected person much more privacy and control – by telling the agent exactly how to proceed before incapacity strikes – and cost far less to the estate than guardianships.
The horrific scene described in this article would never have happened to one of my clients. Licensed fiduciaries are mandated by their Code of Conduct to visit wards “at a minimum every 90 days and as often as needed to ensure their well-being.” I take that to mean every day if necessary, and I don’t think every 90 days is often enough. It’s not, in fact, for a National Certified Guardian: We are to visit our wards monthly.
Non-professionals serving in the same capacity as me, however, have no requirement whatsoever under the law to visit their wards. Ever. That strikes me as somewhat of a problem.
Vulnerable people cannot speak for themselves. They cannot, in most cases, contact authorities and report that they are being neglected, abused, and left to rot in deplorable conditions.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. The same is true for our vulnerable, our infirm, our incapacitated. This monster who ran these homes had employees. Every one of them that took compensation for their services is as guilty as she is. What happened to the Golden Rule?
Whoever walked in and out of that facility and did nothing, I just want to remind you: You very well may be incapacitated some day yourself. You reap what you sow, karma’s a … and all of that.