Stan Lee, the 95 year old co-creator of The Guardians of the Galaxy and the rest of the Marvel Comic Book series was in the headlines of the Hollywood Reporter this past week. But the story was not about Spiderman, Hulk, Captain America or the Guardians of the Galaxy. It was alleged this past Tuesday that he was the victim of elder abuse! A radio station in Orlando, Florida, amplified this by calling it a “captive situation” and that unnamed people were keeping him under lock and key to control his assets.
Mr. Lee, who is a co-creator of one of the most successful comic book franchises, a franchise that has also spawned a hugely successful box office sensation, lives in an LA neighborhood where houses go for tens of millions of dollars. He has a net worth of about $50 million and has Miros, Picassos and more hanging on his walls…amid some empty hooks with faded shadows where something used to be. That’s not all that a recent visit from a New York Time reporter found to be missing. There are reports of more than a million dollars in wire transfers and a designer bag of cash and other valuable items seem to have “walked away” from the house. Some of this is under investigation.
If you are thinking that because your older loved one is not worth millions that you have less to worry about, think again. Kerry Peck, a Chicago-based elder law attorney, famously states that we should all have someone looking out for us who loves us more than they love our money. I have five suggestions for those of you with older loved ones as well:
- No matter where your older loved lives, you or someone you know should drop in frequently…and sometimes unannounced…and at different times to see how mom or dad is doing and who is visiting;
- If your loved one requires home care or home health be sure that it is with a bonded and insured agency…and check references;
- Know your loved one’s friends and be wary of “new friends” in their lives…especially friends for whom mom or dad may be doing financial favors;
- Either personally or through a bonded professional monitor your loved one’s financial transactions, credit card and bank statements…look for changes;
- And this is really #1, start the conversation early with your loved one…the conversation about how they want to live and where they want to live and whom they trust to help them.
It’s never too early to be a guardian of your loved one’s galaxy.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.