A Warning to Seniors Living Alone
Adventures in Eldercare May 2014
Earlier this spring in Toronto a 92 year old woman was held captive in her own home. The details of this situation are shocking but I feel they need to be shared. The woman lived alone in Scarborough, in a post war home, she had no family. Although 92 years in age she was quite independent, she did her own grocery shopping and meal preparation but she needed help with cleaning and laundry. Her loyal housekeeper of over ten years became ill so she was on her own.
One day, while at the grocery store she saw a flyer on the bulletin board for a cleaning woman, the kind of flyer with the numbers written at the bottom that you can tear off and take with you. She took the number and called the cleaning woman that afternoon. It was arranged that the woman would come over for an interview and to discuss the jobs that the elderly woman needed help with. When the cleaning woman arrived she just simply started cleaning the house and on that day a three month reign of terror started. Within a week, the cleaning woman had
her husband and two children moved into the house. In a very short time this family completely took over the house, confining the elderly homeowner to her bedroom. They stole her pension money and her life savings of $25,000 and when they were caught they were planning on selling her home and moving the woman with them to an apartment.
It was only luck and good fortune that the elderly woman was saved. A pharmacy delivery person who regularly delivered a specific medication refused to hand over the medication to the strange woman at the door; he insisted that he give the medication directly to the senior. He was lead through the house to her bedroom, when she saw him she was overjoyed and began to hug him, although she said nothing. Her captives never left her alone with the deliveryman but he knew something was very wrong. He left the medication and when he was away from the house he called the police. The poor woman was rescued later in the day by police; her captives were arrested and charged with elder abuse, theft and holding someone against their will. Fortunately this was a good ending to a horrible story, the elderly woman is now doing well and many in the community have come forward with monetary aide to get her back on her feet.
The lessons from this story are clear. If you are a senior and you live alone do not let anyone into your home unless you are absolutely sure about their credentials and why they are there. Have a neighbor check in on you on a regular basis. Get an emergency response button that you wear on your wrist or on a necklace. These emergency response buttons will help you in case of a fall but in this situation would have had the authorities at the door in minutes to deal with these intruders. Also, keep in mind that there are home care companies, like mine, Victoria Eldercare that will assist you with your basic needs and we will only send a qualified, honest support worker that has been thoroughly police checked and is trustworthy.
I hope that this story alarmed you; people often think it won’t happen to them, but a criminal will always take advantage and it doesn’t matter if it is in Toronto or Tillsonburg, you have to be wary and you have to take precautions.
Dr. Bruce Veltri operates Victoria Eldercare, a non-medical home care agency matching exceptional care-givers with elderly seniors, to help them maintain independence and remain safely in their own home. Victoria Eldercare is conveniently located in the new Roulston’s Wellness Centre on Donly Drive in Simcoe. Call 519-429-2644 or visit our web-site, victoriaeldercare.com for more information about our services.