Neglect Case Studies
NOTE: The names of all participants have been changed to protect their privacy
APS received a report that Gloria Fielding, a very frail 88-year-old woman, needed care for all activities of daily living. Ms. Fielding was legally blind, extremely hard of hearing, unable to walk and suffered from dementia. She was confined to a hospital bed placed in the basement of her home by her caregiver. Ms. Fielding owned two houses. Her primary residence was so severely neglected as to be uninhabitable. The caregiver stated that the dilapidated condition of the house was the reason Ms. Fielding was moved into the basement, while the caregiver resided in Ms. Fielding’s other home.
When the APS worker investigated the report of abuse, she heard yelling coming from Ms. Fielding’s garage but could not gain access to the house. A neighbor offered to help the APS worker by calling the caregiver. The caregiver drove to Ms. Fielding’s house and upon arriving, opened the garage door and drove her car right into Ms. Fielding’s bed, knocking it with her bumper.
The basement had no furniture beside the hospital bed. The floor was littered with used hypodermic syringes. The caregiver stated that Ms. Fielding’s medical doctor pre-filled the syringes and instructed her to inject Ms. Fielding whenever she requested.
Upstairs, numerous photographs of Ms. Fielding’s physician were found throughout residence. The APS investigation discovered that the M.D. had received large monetary gifts from Ms. Fielding, had engaged in sexual relations with her and had recommended the caregiver to Ms. Fielding.
Despite Ms. Fielding’s frailties, when the APS worker interviewed Ms. Fielding, she reported that she was being abused by her doctor and caregiver.
APS assisted by:
- Arranging for Ms. Fielding to be hospitalized for a thorough medical evaluation
- Assisting in Ms. Fielding’s relocation to a skilled nursing facility
- Referring the case to the police Fraud Department. They arrested the caregiver for elder neglect and she is in jail awaiting trial
- Filing an official complaint against the physician with the County Counsel’s Office and the FBI. The M.D. is currently under investigation for participating in several elder financial abuse cases involving real estate scams
- Referring Ms. Fielding to the Probate Court for conservatorship / guardianship to provide ongoing support and protect her from further neglect
Buddy Norris has an intellectual disability and mental health problems. He lived with his mother who managed all aspects of his life for him until her death several years ago. Mr. Norris’s only time away from his mother was the couple of years he spent in the army as a cook. After Mr. Norris’s mother died, he moved into a licensed Board and Care home. The owner of the facility made Mr. Norris clean the house and do all the yard work. Often he did not receive adequate food and nutrition. When the licensing agency discovered the inadequate care the residents were receiving, the facility’s license was revoked.
APS tried to help Mr. Norris move to a safer, better home, but he was fearful and declined to move at that time. The APS worker continued to engage with Mr. Norris for close to a year before Mr. Norris decided to try relocating to another facility.
APS assisted by:
- Locating an assisted living facility that could provide a healthy and safe living environment for Mr. Norris
- Assisting Mr. Norris in moving to his new home
- Locating Mr. Norris’s Veterans Administration (VA) records to apply for his pension, medical benefits and attendant care benefits, and assisting him in completing applications for caregiving services
- Arranging primary medical care for Mr. Norris as he hadn’t seen an M.D. in a decade
- Transporting Mr. Norris to all follow-up medical appointments
- Arranging for Mr. Norris to participate in an Arts Program to enhance his social activities
After three months, Mr. Norris had adjusted nicely to his new home. He had made friends with many of the other residents and was participating in new activities through the Arts Program. Mr. Norris informed APS that he was now very happy and liked his new home a lot.
APS received a report on Saturday afternoon from a hospital regarding Ms. Thomas, a frail 88-year-old female. On Thursday, the hospital determined that Ms. Thomas was ready to be discharged. Because she was weak and had difficulty moving about and getting up from a chair by herself, the hospital recommended that she transfer to a rehabilitation center to regain her strength. Ms. Thomas refused, and so late Thursday afternoon the hospital sent her home. She lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment with no known relatives or social support, and refused in-home caregiving assistance.
On Saturday when the hospital telephoned Ms. Thomas to monitor her medications, there was no answer. They called APS to investigate. The APS worker also was unable to reach Ms. Thomas by telephone, so he went directly to her apartment. There was no answer despite repeated knocking on her door and ringing the doorbell.
The APS worker called building security and the building manager, but they refused to offer access to the apartment unless law enforcement was present, so the APS worker called emergency services and police were dispatched.
When police arrived, building security opened the door and the APS worker entered with the police and located Ms. Thomas sitting on her toilet where she had been stationary for six hours because she was too weak to stand up by herself. Ms. Thomas was overjoyed someone had discovered her, because she couldn’t yell loud enough to get the attention of neighbors and feared she would die alone in her bathroom.
APS assisted by:
- Calling the paramedics to transport Ms. Thomas to the hospital for further evaluation.
- Following Ms. Thomas to the hospital and made sure she was readmitted to the hospital.
- Working with the hospital to ensure that adequate home care services were in place before Ms Thomas was discharged home.
- Advocating to make sure that Ms Thomas accepted the in-home care services and that they addressed her needs.
Ms. Thomas was very thankful for the APS worker’s help and was happy to be safe in her home.