It may be more common than you think. An aged or disabled person has been away from home for a while recuperating from stroke or other sudden illness or injury, perhaps receiving rehabilitative services in a skilled care facility. Now its time to return home, obviously with staff, often around-the-clock.
Staff soon encounter neighbors who visit or who walk down the street and inquire how their neighbor is doing. Some seek privacy with some frequency with your client and not for the reasons you might think.
Some of these neighbors were once somewhat or even heavily dependent upon your client for certain favors, often financial, before the life-changing illness or injury occurred. Now they may be on a whispering campaign to convince your client they do not need the level of help or care that is in place or that their independence is being minimalized as a result of the help that is in place. The motive is not complicated to figure out.
Some, regardless of the lack of qualification may smell income if they were allowed to render care themselves. Others simply want more access to your client in order to continue previously frequent financial favors that have been cut-off, especially if in light of your client’s current condition their family has stepped up and taken control of finances.
What is your role in this drama of personalities and bad motives? A few pointers:
1. Bond with your client and ensure they know you can be relied upon, even for conversation
2. Give them their privacy but you may need to listen nearby if you feel a plan of exploitation is in place
3. Help your client stick to a social routine so that loneliness does not make them more vulnerable to the outreach of those with questionable motives
4. Report anything you feel suspicious about to the client’s family, guardian, case manager, etc.
When I began managing the care of the late Ms. Helen Newhouse (pictured upper center) I even encountered a distant relative who arranged for a banker to visit my client and make changes in her investment accounts. Since her affairs were being managed by a local attorney I emailed her immediately and she dealt with this person who was trying to end-run her.
So take an active interest. People need more protection than you might think.
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