November is National Caregivers Month, and during this time many of us naturally think of those who provide physical, health-based care for the elderly. But there are other ways people provide care to vulnerable members of our society: financial protection.
Unfortunately, seniors are vulnerable to exploitation, and Lutheran Services Florida’s caregivers work to make sure they preserve their rights, assets, and dignity.
Melissa Bauta knows this all too well. During her time as Senior Case Manager at LSF’s Adult Advocacy Services, she’s seen several success stories of LSF’s team members stepping in when seniors in Sarasota were at risk of losing everything.
Melissa recalls the time a 63-year-old gentleman was hospitalized. His friend came from out-of-state to visit him in the hospital and had the gentleman sign a POA, when the hospital social worker learned of this she contacted LSF. After LSF was appointed guardianship they discovered the friend had cleaned out his house, took his car, and wiped out his bank account. LSF team members researched his situation, filed a report with the North Port police, and with their help, made sure the client received restitution for $12,000, and had the friend prosecuted for exploitation of an elderly.
Then there’s the story of a 74-year-old woman who had been homeless for many years living on the streets, after being assaulted she was transferred to a shelter by the Sarasota Sheriff’s office who then referred LSF for guardianship. After LSF was appointed guardianship they discovered she lived and worked in Germany for many years before coming to the United States. LSF worked with the Germany Social Security office for more than a year and was ecstatic to find that she was the recipient of a monthly pension and had over $30,000 of unclaimed pension funds. As well, it was discovered the woman had over $3,000 in Florida Unclaimed funds.
LSF team members were also able to help her get into a quality assisted living facility, which provides daily meals, activities, and access to other critical resources.
“It’s important to us that clients are treated with dignity, “says Melissa. “We make sure their bills are paid, they have clothing and food, and that they have access to all the things that are rightfully theirs.”
Between LSF’s commitment to quality care, partnerships with local authorities, and the support of attorneys who have the client’s best interest in mind, Lutheran Services Florida is able to advocate for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
To learn more about our guardianship programs, please visit LSFNET.ORG.