Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Friday, January 25, 2008

Alzheimer's creates ideal prey for scammers

I recently received a letter from a geriatric care manager who, as a volunteer, runs an Alzheimer's caregiver support group. She wrote about one experience from her caregiver's group that I want to share with you.

Although not all of us are providing care for a loved one, the incident she describes is relevant for the following reason:

"There are only four kinds of people in the world - those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers." So wrote former first lady Rosalyn Carter. Few, if any of us, are excluded.

Here is the story.

A wife who is the primary caregiver to her husband with dementia went out for a short time to run a few errands. Her husband, who was home alone, answered a knock at the door. Two men, alleged tree trimmers, said they were available to do some work and would like to see the backyard to determine what might be done and to estimate the cost. They presented a business card. While one man was in the backyard, the other remained in the house and proceeded to steal items of worth.

The wife returned shortly and all seemed normal and in order. The next morning, she discovered that her drawers had been rummaged and valuables were stolen.

I spoke with Lomita law enforcement officers. Apparently they are dealing with a number of such cases of scammers who distract older adults and then rob them. Similar cases have been reported in Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills Estates and Palos Verdes Estates - just to name a few places.
One enforcement officer from Lomita said that from his experience and observations, "People get victimized regardless of where they live or what income they have."

The advice from the geriatric care manager was straightforward: "Get respite care." Even a few hours alone may place a loved one with dementia in a precarious position.

Some suggestions:

Do not leave alone a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or some other cognitive impairment.

Contact the nearest Alzheimer's Association for support.

By Helen Dennis


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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