Goldhawk Fights Back: Elder Abuse and The People Who Turn It Into Profit
This is a weekly column by Dale Goldhawk, Canada’s best-known consumer advocate. A journalist, author and broadcaster, Dale hosts Goldhawk Fights Back For You, on AM 740 or at AM740 ZoomerRadio, Monday through Friday from 11 am to 1 pm, in the eastern time zone. Visit his website at www.goldhawk.com.
Robert died in the hospital on May 28, 2008 after a five-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83. Several years earlier, his wife had died after suffering from Alzheimer’s for more than a decade. There were few golden years for this loving couple.
When Robert died, he was married to a woman 25 years younger than him but most likely did not know it. The woman had met him while Robert was spending many hours a day in hospital caring for his wife.
After his wife’s death, Robert rented out the basement in his home to the woman. Then she moved quickly.
She took him to his lawyer and had her name added to his will as beneficiary and executor. When his son Ted and his wife Mary found out, they asked Robert about it. Robert had no memory of the visit and only said the woman would never do such a thing.
In his vulnerable state, Robert signed over all banking authority to the woman. She wrote all the cheques and controlled all of Robert’s pension payments and investments. She changed the locks on the house and refused to give keys to Ted and Mary.
Robert’s doctor began treating him for Alzheimer’s disease, and in a note in Robert’s medical file, the doctor said, “Robert has brighter moments when he remembers incidents and locations.” The doctor made a further note that he would increase the dementia medication in Robert’s next visit.
Two days after that notation was made in Robert’s medical file, the woman took Robert to City Hall. The woman and Robert got married.
A year later, documents show that Robert took out a $160,000 mortgage on his debt-free home — a home Robert built with his father’s help, back in the 1950s.
Then Robert was taken from his home, never to return. The woman called the police to report that Robert had been violent. Police took him from his home and he was locked up in a hospital psychiatric ward for a week for assessment. He was later transferred to a nursing home.
Back at the house, the woman’s own family had now moved in. The woman took all of Robert’s family photos and dropped them off at the nursing home. The family home was now off-limits to Robert and any of his family.
Ted and Mary tried to fight the woman every step of the way. But nothing could be done. The woman did all she could to isolate Robert from his own family. Ted and Mary tried to get the police involved but the police said, essentially, they could do nothing. Ted and Mary hired a lawyer, only to discover they could not afford to take the woman to court. They were able to take Robert out of the nursing home for a few family visits. They did have some time with Robert before he died.
Ted at one point managed to talk to Robert’s long-time financial advisor. He estimated that Robert’s estate, with all of the wise investments Robert had made over the years, plus a number of generous pensions, to be worth to close to half a million dollars.
Robert was a quiet man, totally devoted to his family. He spent a lifetime trying to provide for them and their future. But now, the lion’s share of his estate will pass to a woman who invaded his life, not for love, but for money.
The file remains open on this case. I have very little faith that anything can be done for this family. But this family (I have changed their names to protect their privacy) thought you should know what happened.
Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ DNY59
Gemini award nominee, journalist and broadcaster, Dale Goldhawk has earned Canada’s trust by his four decades of work exposing fraud and greed in the marketplace. To read more of his articles, go to www.Goldhawk.com (now part of the ZoomerMedia family of websites).
Don’t miss Goldhawk Fights Back , on the New AM740 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.