Thursday, August 27, 2009

Elders Are being Stripped of their Civil Rights in Record Numbers Across the Land

Elderly Couple Forced into State Custody
Becky Oliver
August 25, 2009
DALLAS - They’re not criminals. They’ve broken no laws. But they’re being held against their will by the State of Texas. Why? It’s a tragic story about what can happen when you are alone in the world and lose control of your rights, your money, and your ability to complain.

Jean and Michael Kidd never imagined their retirement would play out like this. “I feel like I am not in America,” said Michael Kidd. “I can’t believe I have been hi-jacked off the street, virtually from the hospital, and imprisoned,” Kidd told FOX 4.

Michael Kidd and his wife Jean have been living out of a tiny room for months. They have lost control of their money, their home, even their car. They say they’ve been robbed of their dignity and their voice. And who do they say is responsible? The State of Texas.

“It is a shock to our system,” says Kidd. “We are still kind of in a state of shock,” Kidd told Reporter Becky Oliver.

Michael Kidd worked as an engineer at KDFW for 23 years. He retired in 2001 with a pension, retirement account, and social security. Last month, he called the station for help. The Kidds have no children or relatives nearby. In November Michael fell and broke his hip. He was taken to a Plano hospital and into surgery. After a few days, the hospital called the state Adult Protective Services to report Jean had been in the waiting room for days and wasn’t eating. What happened next is a complicated, legal tale told in hundreds of pages of documents filed with the Collin County Probate Court.

Caseworkers paint a picture of two incompetent old people, age 67 and 70, suffering from dementia. Reports say the Kidds have mismanaged their finances and used poor judgment, that Michael is verbally abusive and even attempted to assault Jean. Michael says Jean has memory trouble but denies everything else. A judge determined the Kidds were incapacitated and unable to care for themselves. The state took over the Kidds lives, sent them to the Countryside Nursing Home in Pilot Point, and is now burning through their money to pay for their care.

“You have no idea how much money you have?” Oliver asked Michael Kidd. “None at all,” Kidd responded. “I know what my income was and I know it was more than enough to take care of my bills. Now, I am deteriorating instead of getting better,” Kidd continued.

The monthly tab for a couple at Countryside is about seven thousand dollars. Court records show, for five months’ care, the guardian paid eleven thousand dollars out of the Kidds’ accounts. The state’s Medicaid program kicks in the rest. “I could be at the Hilton for this kind of money,” Kidd told Oliver.

The state appointed a financial guardian in Greenville to manage the Kidds money and pay their bills. When they asked for an accounting, the state refused. Representatives for the state stated the Kidds did not have the mental capacity to even ask for their own financial or medical records. Yet, much of their personal information is public record. The state tried to get a temporary restraining order to stop FOX 4 from reporting the Kidds’ story, saying the couple does not have the authority to consent to an interview and that our report will cause them irreparable harm. Judge Weldon Copeland ruled against the state. He said he would welcome a neighbor or family member to serve as a guardian but no one has come forward. The state is the last resort.

“We have to buy this out of our own money,” says Michael. The state gives each of the Kidds a measly sixty dollars a month of their own money. They use it to keep a small refrigerator stocked with healthy food. Jean has lost twenty pounds and two teeth and says no one has seemed to notice. They have no personal belongings in their room other than the television. All of their remaining possessions sit in their house in Richardson.

Bob Graham lived across the street from the Kidds for 21 years. He is furious about what the state is allowing to happen to their home. The yard has been neglected. The power was shut-off last spring and food left spoiling in the kitchen. Graham says the state even left the doors unlocked. “What irritates me is the gross negligence in handling their financial affairs,” Graham told Oliver. There has got to be a better way of handling this than just coming in, in a totalitarian fashion, and taking over people’s lives against their will with no advocate to speak for them,” Graham continued.

Bob Graham’s wife Aline was one of Jean Kidd’s closest friends. She says Jean was having some memory problems but she too questions the state’s heavy handedness. “They needed some kind of help but it is frightening to realize how totally helpless and without resources they are going to be,” Aline Graham told Oliver.

The Kidds did have court-appointed representation from attorney, Bert Starr. Starr would not comment but court records show he billed their account for ten hours of legal work. The work Starr performed on their case was cut from the record. The Kidds say they met with

him briefly one time before their hearing and he represented them at the hearing.

Nick Shiek is Jean Kidd’s former boss. He went to court with the Kidds and says it was clear no one was advocating for their position and for them to be allowed to go home. “There was no defending, per se.” Shiek told Oliver. “The procedure went through really quickly.”

The Kidds say the state has tried to paint them as troublemakers who are incapable of making their own decisions about their own lives. And they’re frightened that it appears to be working.

“Having help is one thing,” says Jean Kidd. “Having someone come in and take over the whole ball of wax and say you will do what I say, and you have no control over your own life…” she says, is another.

“How could this happen in a country that talks about and brags about freedom,” says Michael Kidd. “And yet this is how we treat our old people. This can happen to any of you.”

The state has the responsibility to make sure the Kidds are safe. But is a nursing home the best answer? There are other possible options such as assisted living or home health care that may be less expensive and confining. But the Kidds say those options were never discussed with them

Source=>>Fox Channel 4 News.


Anonymous said...

I have watched this for 2 nights, and I think it is appalling that our state can do such a thing. It is apparent that these two people are definitly capable of taking care of themselves. Our state should be ashamed!!!! Watch out America, this could easily be you! I hope someone can help these two and Becky Oliver is just the person to get the help they need.

Anonymous said...

what gets me is here in California, the guardian's office is the culprit. Anything the DEPUTY public guardians say is gospel. The court investigators are far from being a partial or neutral party as the law requires. The county counsel, represents the guardians office, the court appoints a lawyer to represent the conservatee. The conservatee have had all their assets frozen so they can't hire an attorney themselves.
In my case a capacity declaration was never filed, because mom is not incapacitated. She has Multiple sclerosis and the sharks smelled blood. No one seems to care what mom wants, or care that this is so illegal. This is exactly what the constitution forbids. This state seems to think our inalienable rights has something to do with be an alien. It sure as hell has nothing to do with the right to be left alone, the right to be free of government intrusion, the right to privacy, the right to be heard, the right to due process, the right to have fair and impartial hearings, and the right to be free!

Anonymous said...

As we all know...there are 2 sides to every story. I have personally met this couple, and as a medical professional would be concerned about their well being if they lived unassisted. As the story also says, no children or family have come forth to be a guardian, or to see to it that these people are not victimized by "the atate". This couple actually has more than 1 option....Medicaid pays for an aide to come to the home and provide cooking, cleaning, and grooming. There is a criteria to be met for being able to live "unassisted", and I can tell you that according to the criteria provided by "the state", this couple cannot live unassisted. Yes, they may function well in an assisted living setting. However, the state does not pay for that. These people are not being abused, and the records for Mrs. Kidd show the missing teeth on admission to the nursing home. She often refuses to eat,as do people with dementia, and as she did at the hospital, prompting the call to APS. This could explain the alleged, but not verified, 22 lb. wt. loss. Can someone tell me whose responsibility it is to take care of people in this situation...there are children between the couple, but not willing to take responsibility. This is really a catch-22 situation!

Ray said...

You are right,I have met some people who are accident prone and whose well being is also a cause for concern yet we can not/should not institutionalize them all as this is the price we must pay to live in a free society.

It is really a catch 22 situation, the sad part is that in SO many instances this situation is used to exploit, how else would you explain $450/hr to do menial task and to drain the estate of so many of us, who are concerned and willing to step forward....
We are not complaining about the legal and responsible use of G'ships, we are complaining about the blatant abuses that are committed everyday against older people who do have families to care for them,and are not held responsible for the damage they cause, family members are demonized and in instances prohibited from contact with their loved ones, I am one of them.
I have been in contact with many who are wanting,willing and able to take care of their loved ones, yet they are not allowed, Those are the one we mostly complaint about...

Thank you for your feedback and comments..