What is the North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force?
Did you know that there is a Georgia organization made up of law enforcement and non-profits that is educating the community on elder abuse? Meet the North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force, serving Georgia’s seniors through education and outreach. In this week’s episode, nursing home abuse lawyers Rob Schenk and Will Smith welcome guest Joe Gavalis from NGEATF to talk about the goals and accomplishments of the organization.
Smith: Hello out there and welcome. I am Will Smith.
Schenk: And I am Rob Schenk. We’ve never done it that way.
Smith: This is going to be something new. We actually have a live guest with us today, Joe Gavalis, who is the founding partner of CTG and Associates, which is an investigative and consulting firm located in Metro Atlanta.
Schenk: And just to be clear, when Will says live, literally live, we are literally live.
Smith: He’s absolutely here
Schenk: I’m eyeball to eyeball with Joe right here. So go ahead, Will.
Smith: And CTG specializes in litigation, support and forensics accounting for major fraud matters, receiverships, employee benefit plans, related businesses. Joe retired from the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Labor Racketeering after a 28-year career in federal law enforcement. During his tenure, he served as a supervisor and resident agent in Atlanta, was special assistant to the director of the Office of Special Investigations, and served as the national coordinator of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Program in Washington, D.C. In 2010, Joe was a founding member of the Cobb Elder Abuse Task Force. He is currently the law enforcement coordinator of the organization.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Bridgeport. He enjoys golfing and traveling with his wife Susan, and he is the host of the Safe Senior Hour on America’s Web Radio, which is a weekly podcast. Joe, we’re very honored and privileged to have you here in the studio today.
How was the North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force Started?
Joe: Well I appreciate it and thank you for the invitation and just really appreciate what you all do just to helping educate the public. That’s one of our goals at the North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force. The Task Force actually started in Cobb County, started basically because I was on the West Coast talking to the district attorney. We’re working with the district attorney in Santa Clara County, which is San Jose, and I met one of the assistant DAs and I asked, “What kind of cases do you work?” She said, “I work elder abuse cases.” I said, “That’s all you do?” She said, “Oh yeah, aren’t you doing anything like that in Georgia?” I said, “We’re not aware of it.”
So one of the hats I wear, I’m appointed by Commissioner Bob Wyatt on the Cobb County Neighborhood Safety Commission. So I came back and I said, “Maybe this is an area we need to look at because our population, the aging population is growing.” And so we came back and a long story short, I remember we started in a little room. I heard somebody recreated this the other day where six of us were around a table and started, and then it’s since grown to an organization that now addresses elder abuse issues in North Georgia, and we define North Georgia as Columbus to Macon to Augusta.
How is elder abuse defined in Georgia?
And we define – you have many definitions of elder abuse – as three areas: physical, which I think people understand when they see the horrible situations some seniors are in, 2) financial, which by far is the biggest elder abuse, the exploitation, and that’s done mostly, unfortunately, by loved ones, relatives, people who the seniors trust, but there is 40 percent of those cases, or so they say, are done by professional scam artists all over the world. But the last one, which I know we’re going to talk about here, is institutional abuse, and we see and hear a lot of that.
And I say see or hear a lot of it – since the task force has been formed, I have spoken to – we’re close to 2,000 now – elders and seniors throughout the North Georgia area in an educational format where we teach them about what to look for, what to do, who to report to any incidents or issues. And one of the big components of that training are those, we call conversations we have with the seniors, is institutional abuse, because I think if you go around and talk to people, whether it’s – I laugh when I say whether it’s kids of the seniors – well kids of the seniors are 50 years old, 40 years old. They’re not kids. They’re adults. And everybody will probably know, will go to a room and say, “If you don’t know personally, I’m sure you know somebody in your family or you know somebody who’s had an issue in an institutional situation, whether it’s a nursing, there are many things they call personal care homes or assisted living.” And you see people nodding.
And so what we try to do, we work very closely with law enforcement community and the regulatory community, and an important part of that is the ombudsman program, which I think you’ve had people on from the ombudsman program.
Smith: Oh, Melanie McNeil.
How many elder abuse task forces are there in Georgia?
Joe: Yeah, she’s absolutely great. And her people throughout the state are great. And there are so many components to addressing elder abuse in Georgia, and we try to bring those together in the law enforcement regulatory situation. Every month, we have a monthly luncheon, educational meeting with law enforcement and regulatory officials in the metro area, and then we have set up many task forces. There’s one in the LaGrange-Columbus area. There’s one in the Northwest Georgia, the Rome, Gordon County, Catoosa, Walker County. There’s one in the North Central, which comes up from the Blue Ridge-Jasper area. They just started one in Winder for that area.
Smith: So what is the relationship between the Cobb Elder Abuse Task Force and the North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force?
Joe: It’s one of like six now because we go actually out throughout North Georgia and meet with the seniors. Cobb stays in their own area. Now the significance of all these task forces are, because as everybody knows, budgets are tight and this is kind of a specialty crime, so there aren’t that many people working these cases in the law enforcement community.
Smith: And I think it’s worth to note that you are all volunteers for this, right?
Is the North Georgia Elder Abuse Task run by volunteers?
Joe: Right, right. The task force is all volunteer. That’s absolutely correct. So we created a foundation in last September, October, and we’re just getting started, but as volunteers, they come and go. So we have our ups and downs, our website is now under construction, but we live off of donations and people say, “What do you use the donations for?” It’s not to pay mileage, it’s not to pay anything right now, it’s that we can get together and put these meetings on. And when law enforcement, having been in the business for 30 years, the best way to get everybody at a meeting is have it lunch and training at the same time, because everybody’s got different interests and different, should we say, scheduling with the meetings and interviewing witnesses, but they all get to eat lunch. So we get everybody there.
What are North Georgia Elder Abuse Task meetings like?
Smith: So who’s at these meetings?
Joe: Well I’ll go on the law enforcement side. It’s from the federal, state and local. We start from the local police to the county police, the county sheriff’s office, it all depends where you are, prosecuting attorneys, GBI – as you know, GBI, this is one of their original jurisdictions that they can commit a case on. We have representatives in from various state agencies. There’s a forensic group that works these kinds of cases that gets more involved in the situations that take place in institutional settings. And then we have Adult Protective Services, healthcare facilities regulators, which I’m sure you’re all familiar with, and to get – you always need a roadmap of who does when, where and how, but the idea is now we have everybody together and trying to meet, and we invite to these lunches people from the probate court to tell law enforcement or regulatory people what they can do. We have people from the medical profession who come in.
The idea is, as far as from the criminal side, the regulatory side, the people who are on the criminal side, criminals or people who did bad things on the civil side, we have to remember that boundaries mean nothing to them. So they don’t care if they’re in the city or the county, where they live, and now we’re seeing state, we’re trying to put an effort on to coordinate activities with our bordering states, because what happens, it’s a – not a sad state of affairs, it’s just that communication has never really been there that much, and unfortunately, when elderly people pass, it’s always some say they died of old age – everybody’s heard of that. Well there’s a new emphasis on that why did they die and the situations that law enforcement and regulatory people look at. And we have to remember even though these are kind of modeled after 30 years ago when they’re after child abuse, adults are adults and they have the right to self-determination, which is always a big deal, but you see situations are some of these are just absolutely horrible. You just feel for the people and you feel for the loved ones. They don’t know what to do.
What is some advice for preventing elder abuse?
So the old adage – if you see something, say something, tell a professional law enforcement, tell somebody that you trust or call a state agency, report it, get it off your conscience. Get somebody there to help them. I’ll give you an example. North Georgia, finally a neighbor called in a said, “You better go check on Mrs. X.” We go to the house, couldn’t get in. I think they ended up forced entry welfare checks, and I deviate – anybody out there that has concern about a senior anywhere, they’re living alone, you can always call law enforcement, sheriff’s office, police and say, “I want a welfare check. I haven’t been able to speak to them,” because you know the horrible feeling and it happened and I’m deviating, but I know a case again in North Georgia – a woman fell coming out of the bathtub. Nobody was checking on her. All her kids, like it is today, they don’t live here. They’ve moved. They live in another state and they call, “Well she doesn’t answer, she doesn’t answer,” so finally the daughter finally called the next day and the woman, I think it was 12 hours on the floor with a broken hip in pain. So you know, if you don’t see Mrs. Jones every day who’s walking the dog, call on someone and say, “You might want to check on them.”
Smith: I have done that. My mother is a paraplegic.
Joe: Oh, God bless her.
Smith: And used to live alone, won’t let her do that anymore, but I called White County or the Sautee Fire Department and go, “Hey, check on her,” and they did, and she had fallen and was on the ground. You’ve got to do that. People don’t want to do it, but if you haven’t heard from somebody, check.
Joe: Well you do, and to go back to the original story where the neighbor called and they had to have forced entry into the house, the woman was there in her bed in just terrific condition – feces, urine, and her back had grown into the sheet and they looked at her and got her immediately in an ambulance and took her, because you know, as you get around on the fringes of Georgia, if you’re up in North Georgia, Northwest Georgia, you go to Chattanooga. That’s the hospital. Alabama is down near Columbus, they come to Georgia. And it’s unique because each state, as you all know as lawyers, has different laws and different rules and regulations.
They took the person to Chattanooga and came back and said, “How could this go on?” Well the woman, I think she was 91, that “I’m not leaving my house. This is my house. I don’t care what you do.” So she kind of intimidated the neighbor until the neighbor just said, “I’ve got to call.” But her son, every week would come in and feed her. ?Well why wouldn’t you call? This is your mother, even if she says no?” And you get to talking to people and this is this self-determination. She hadn’t been ruled with dementia or any medical condition to where you could maybe get probate in or a conservator or a guardian. So they got her and so then the county officials come in because it was so bad – as you know in these situations, sometimes they’ll wear masks.
Smith: They have to.
Smith: It’s a HAZMAT…
Joe: Right. And they just condemned the house. So hopefully she’ll be taken care of. But you think that’s one – we just got another one. Same thing. This time it was a little unusual that she was there and the condition was so bad that she got to the hospital and passed. Well the issue comes – well she died in Tennessee because of things that happened in Georgia – you get into different laws and different things, both on the criminal side and the civil side.
Smith: And autopsies when they’re supposed to be performed.
Joe: Oh, absolutely.
What type of training does the North Georgia Elder Abuse Task provide?
Schenk: And Joe, you mentioned this a minute ago, but what are some of the topics of the trainings that you guys provide. You talked about probate – what are the other seminars that you guys give and what is, Joe, you said to the audience a lot of law enforcement might be some or…
Joe: Law enforcement, regulatory – we had – and mandated reporters. We’ve had seminars we’ve put on here into the financial exploitation on these international gangs that are exploiting people, these romance scams and different things which you could do a whole other show on, which is amazing. A lot of money being lost that way. But when you get outside of Atlanta or even in Atlanta, people don’t really know what the different agencies do, both criminal and civil and the regulatory agencies. So we’ll have them come on and we’ll have a training situation. The last one, the big one we did was in northwest Georgia and it was a day training and there we had probate court judges explain situations. We had actual DAs put on cases, what they looked at, the unique prosecutorial theories, and then we had various state agencies that would come in and tell everyone what we do. We had like 110 for that one.
Is the training provided by North Georgia Elder Abuse Task specialized?
And the training that’s needed – there’s specialized training all over – the state is starting to do it more. We have this forensic unit that people should really be aware of from Georgia to help them is they run a class called ACT. It’s Advanced Criminal Techniques that deal with just elder abuse. That unit’s headed by Pat King who has been through mandated as a law enforcement officer and she’s also a nurse and she’s wonderful. And they marry up with training put on by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The head of that unit that just deals – they have a unit that just deals in ASAC, Heather Strickland, that oversees their statewide enforcement coordination through the areas. Each GBI region, I think they have 10, I might be wrong, I think it’s 10, they have an elder abuse specialist who’s been through this ACT training. But you’ve got to constantly go through these trainings, and the idea of bringing people together for the training brings them together, like I’m meeting you all for the first time and you all have interests – well they’re meeting people. Somebody says, “I had a situation.” I had it too – here’s what we did. It saves time, it saves money and it makes everybody reassured they’re doing the right thing.
Having said that, one of our big training and we’re going to be doing again is table top exercises. You hear about it happening for like if something happens at the stadium or something like that, we did a big training top in Cobb – I think we had 76 participants. This call came in and you’re sitting around with all the different components, with the 911, with the fire and rescue, the EMTs, the police, regulatory and you’re around the table and I don’t know if you’ve been on any table top exercises, but okay, this call came in, what do you do now? What do you do? So now we’re going to say the scenario now moves to this. What are you going to do? Well it happened to be about an unlicensed personal care home so that’s why I’m bringing it up.
Smith: It sounds like something we do in the military, which is like a joint task force exercise where everybody gets together, you have a scenario and you see what the kinks are because you find out, “Oh, this call didn’t go through. These people didn’t coordinate with these people.”
Joe: And who should you call?
Joe: I tell you as you go into these situations and you can go around the state and I’m more familiar with the criminal activity, in terms of criminal enforcement activity, but it has been all around the state that the state has now come in and law enforcement see they have to marry up with their civil and regulatory partners, because they’ll go in – I think they had in North Georgia, they had, I don’t know if it was a nursing home or a big assisted living – well you have to remember, being in law enforcement and you gentlemen understand, if I have a warrant for XYZ resident because there’s dope there, I’m going to be on the lookout for dope and I’m going to leave, or there’s guns or financial records. Well here you’re talking about abuse in a personal care home or in an assisted living where not only do you have to look for the hard evidence, conduct interviews, you’ve got live people that are there that have – it can determine whether they can stay there or not and you have to take care of them. And a lot of them, they can’t walk or they have issues, so you have to have the regulatory people, the civil people to come in.
So what normally would have been maybe you hit a house or hit an area with 10 or 15 agents or law enforcement people, I mean they’re now up to 50-60 people. It’s a big coordinated effort. And the area before was law enforcement always kept that to themselves – “Well we’re going to hit this house.” No longer. You’ve got to plan. You’ve got to trust people, and that’s what they’re finding they do because the purpose of all of this is to take care of these elderly. You don’t want them to live in the squalor and the situation, and we show videos of what it’s like and the TV shows videos of what it’s like, how bad the conditions are. How can this happen?
Smith: You’re talking about the personal care homes and the…
Joe: Assisted living homes.
Smith: Assisted living nursing homes?
Joe: You know, right. That’s what I’m talking about – institutional. And you look at that and there was a huge one they did in South Georgia and it was a lot of people and luckily they had a place to put the people, but you’ve got to figure out what are you going to do with them. I mean you want to take care of them? Basic things – how are you going to feed them? If anybody, and I hope a lot of people aren’t out there who’ve experienced one, people aren’t in and out on these searches in 30 minutes. It takes a while to search and here and there, people are due their medicine, they’re due their food and you have to take care of all of that, because you take over a location, you’re responsible for everybody in it. And I think just the response from law enforcement is good – we just don’t have enough people to do it.
Smith: Also I would imagine that until somebody sees something and says something to you guys, how would you know? It has to be on your radar somehow.
Joe: It’s got to be brought onto our radar, and again, in Georgia, because of some very successful – the use of RICO really helps. We’re one of the few states, and I interact with a lot of states and a lot of people, Tennessee, we go to Nashville a lot – I see you all have an office in Nashville – and the people up there are great, and they think we’re great because we have the greatest laws, because they don’t have a lot of the good laws to fight elder abuse like we do. We love what they have is there’s a computer list of people – I’m trying to think of the exact name that they call it, but you can go up there and you can go into this entity and say, “I want to hire John Smith to take care of my father.”
Smith: Oh right.
Joe: And John Smith goes in and they go up and say, “John Smith, no. Physical abuse and whatever it is,” and it is the gold standard throughout the United States, what Tennessee does. And they’re very good and that’s why we talk about the situation. We’re trying to try to get a multi-state coordinated meeting of just people working this from the enforcement point of view and the regulatory, and like Chattanooga looks good because it’s kind of common to Alabama and Georgia and Tennessee.
Smith: And we’re getting that too because I know that Sharon Cooper, who’s probably worked with you guys a lot, sponsored a bill that dealt with the registry of CNAs.
Joe: That’s right. Right. Well that was to enhance – they always were there but they never did – the only thing they did, the only reason I know that, I was involved, testified and happens to be she’s my representative and a neighbor of mine. But her heart is to help seniors. Absolutely.
Smith: It really is. And she’s been behind some of the best bills out there.
Joe: And we’re able to talk to her and say, “This is what you need.” And it’s like she said, “We don’t want to have you – we want to do what’s legal and what’s right but we don’t want you guys handcuffed, the regulatory people or the law enforcement. So how do we tweak a bill?” There was a bill that just came through – they found out – and you guys know more about the criminal thing, I’m not a lawyer – I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express, but I’m not a lawyer. But it’s something of making a lesser crime, you have to charge leventy or something, I don’t know.
Joe: Something like that.
Smith: Does it have to do with RICO?
Joe: No, this has to do with just a battery, but as you know in Georgia, if crimes are committed against elderly, it’s an enhanced crime. And it can be a predicate act for RICO. But there’s also – and again, I’m kind of talking and I’m not anywhere near a legal expert, but it used to be just a battery, which is a misdemeanor, but if it goes against a person who’s elderly, it’s a felony under the exploitation statute. And so they cleared that up. It’s this clean up act – this cleaning up of the statutes, which is really good. She’s great and everybody out there, if you ever want to be just amazed, come to the capital and see how legislation is done. It is truly like seeing how sausage is made. It is amazing.
Schenk: We did. And we’re actually going to have Assemblywoman Unterman on in probably two or three months.
Joe: She’s a state senator. State senator – but in fact, there was just in the paper some talk that she might be running for U.S. Congress. I don’t know if that’s true or not but it came up. But those people are good and just – we talked about a horrible situation earlier in Lafayette, which is Walker County for people who don’t know, and it hit the Washington Post headlines. It was on the news here. The horrible situation with a 90-year-old woman – and there is a civil case going on.
Smith: The scabies case.
Smith: The body was literally falling apart.
Joe: Correct, or as was reported. She worked in World War II on the ships.
Smith: Beauty queen.
Joe: Beauty queen, was a TV or radio commentator. Anyways, that case showed that there are a lot of deficiencies in the reporting requirements here. We have a very strong mandate to report law in Georgia, and for whatever it was, it fell through the cracks. Representative Cooper held study committee meetings on – I don’t know if you all went – and she wasn’t there trying to do the civil case. She wasn’t trying to confirm or not confirm any criminal case. She was just trying to figure out what didn’t work and why it didn’t work and what do we need to do so this doesn’t happen to anybody else. And I think they’ve got – she might be doing one more study group on it, but these issues – and she held them with representatives of the nursing home association and she held it with the Public Health.
Schenk: Yeah, and that’s what I thought was interesting. It’s almost like – I don’t know how to – but after 9/11, what we did with all the various departments, we consolidated them under the Department of Homeland Security, it’s kind of like that. How do we better have agencies, law enforcement agencies, regulatory agencies communicate with one another, because maybe the health department might not talk to the Department of Community Health, things like that.
Smith: Adult Protective Services…
Schenk: Adult Protective Services…
Joe: That’s why Tennessee and other people are saying you all are doing a great job in enhancing your laws and working on them. I think two or three years ago, they came in that now mandated reporting required to report – it used to be “or” and now it’s “and” – you’ve got to report both to Adult Protective Services or Healthcare Facility Regulatory and law enforcement. And each of those have to report to each other. And that’s what we say when we go to these meetings and try to get the lunch, try to get the format of what’s the best way to do it, and that helps and it enlightens. And again you’ve got to remember that Adult Protective and Healthcare Facility people are regulatory people. And my concern, coming from law enforcement community, everybody, is their safety because they’re out, and if anybody knows the rural Georgia, you’re knocking on homes or in some of the cities and some of the bad areas, so you want to get that community interest with law enforcement to come in and we’ve seen that. Is it perfect? No. But we’ve seen it. It’s really helped.
And then they changed the law again on the financial reporting that now any transactions have to report by the financial institutions. A lot of states don’t have that, which is big. And so consequently, law enforcement and Adult Protective Services are getting notices from banks on suspicious activities. Again, like I said, the financial exploitation is one of the biggest that affects seniors because they’re lonely. And when we talk to them, just spoke yesterday to a group and for everybody, their geography, they know where Catoosa County is – Summerville.
Smith: Oh, okay. I know where Summerville is.
Joe: Yeah, nice bunch of people sitting around and everybody wonders, “Why me?” Why are people, financially, whatever it is? Well basically, this generation, we’re very trusting. A handshake will do with everything. I don’t see that much – you don’t see too many, “Well that’s a deal,” anymore. “Well I’ll get my lawyer to look at it and your lawyer.” But out in the rural areas, it’s a handshake. And these people were able to save a little bit of money. And the professionals understand that and unfortunately so do the relatives. They know that grandma and grandpa save money and their thought is, “It’s going to be mine,” or the son or the daughter, “It’s going to be mine.”
Smith: And social media changes it. You can – I have to drill my mom on this all the time that we have code words. Just because it’s a picture of me and it says it’s me doesn’t mean it’s me.
Joe: Right. Don’t ever give money – I mean, the last thing on the three areas of seniors – they’re trusting, they’ve saved a little bit of money, but boy they love their kids, especially their grandkids. So there’s a whole new scam called the “grandparent scam.” And when I’m talking about scams, I’m not talking about it happening here or there or it happening up in New York or in California. It’s happening right here in Georgia, in North Georgia, and people are getting taken left and right.
Smith: Their entire life savings are wiped out.
Joe: Gone. Gone.
Smith: If you’re 80 years old, you’re not going to get another job somewhere.
Joe: Exactly. Exactly. You’re living on it and the false hopes are amazing, and just to let people know, we’re sitting around this table and we like to have conversations with seniors. That’s the best way because it kind of – they kind of see that it’s not just them, that there are people out there that can help. But we had cases here from Cobb – it’s a famous case. A woman got taken for $7 million. I think she went to court and it was four, but they ended up seven – got a lot of it back. The new head of the GBI, Vic Reynolds and his, when he was a district attorney and now the acting attorney John Melvin did the case. The woman’s okay – she’s in her 90s. But the scam artist met her daughter at church and worked their way up.
Well go fast forward, we had a situation of a gentleman who worked in a mill all his life. Somebody, a friend calls in and says, “You need to look at John. He’s 70-something years old and he’s got a 44-year-old woman with her 10-year-old kid living in his house,” in a very old house – the term Southerners used to me, I don’t know if you’re familiar with, shotgun houses, where it’s just one room after another, it’s just real narrow.
Smith: That’s a real South Georgia kind of thing.
Joe: Yeah, but whatever it is, lived there and had an old pickup truck. Befriended her – the regulatory and law enforcement went out, everything’s fine. She’s helping take care of me, so and so. Well it turns out she was a heroin addict, had committed several crimes and got a call two months later that she had convinced him to get a power of attorney. She sold the house, didn’t have the house anymore, went and sold the truck, didn’t have the truck anymore, and he was destitute and like about to be living on the street, his last money. And so we were able to come in with the regulatory and the private agencies helped this gentleman. But that was like his total amount every month was $600, $1,000.
So the extremes are there and it’s so prevalent that people are preying on the seniors and disabled. When we say seniors in Georgia, they’re called at-risk adults, and if you’re over 18 and you have some kind of handicap or some issues, plus elders.
Smith: Well it’s like ADRC.
Schenk: It’s Aging and Disability Resource Center. Joe, can you tell us for anybody out there, whether or not they want to get in touch with you or your task force to volunteer, to donate, to go to a seminar, what’s the best way that people out there listening right now can get a hold of your organization?
Joe: Okay. Right now, and people ask us that, first of all, any information on any of the issues we talk about, whether it’s physical, financial or institutional, and you have a concern, call your law enforcement. Report it. Say, “I have a suspicion” – I just had that yesterday – “that I’m passing on,” but get it to your local law enforcement. To us, we go out, the best way to help is to volunteer your senior services, because people don’t go out with us. We conduct this. Donations, we certainly accept at the foundation.
Smith: And how do they give those? That’s important. There’s not a way now – there’s going to be a way with the website, right?
Joe: Right. Right. With the website, you can do it online or you can contact me at – I’ll give you my email – Joseph.Gavalis@comcast.net, and I will get you to our treasurer and we will try to do it. We’ve been very successful – amazing how many, not just individuals but companies will donate an amount of money, because they see there’s a need, this education…
Smith: There’s a huge need for this.
Joe: And we steer – when we hear things – I do, I just go on the show and I’ll plug the radio show.
Smith: Please do, I was going to ask you about it.
Joe: Which we do for free, which we were asked, the foundation was asked to take part or would we be interested to do a weekly radio show, and I was like, as I do have a face for radio and not really for television, but they talked us into it and we tried it and I think we’ve done, it was from like November and every Monday, it’s at 10 to 11. It’s on America’s Web Radio.
Smith: And to clarify in case anybody’s confused, that is an Internet radio.
Joe: Yes, that is correct.
Smith: You’re not going to find it in your car.
Schenk: What’s the URL?
Smith: Oh, I’m not sure, but we can probably put it up here.
Schenk: Okay, we’ll get Gene – Gene…
Smith: Yeah, yeah.
Joe: But anyways, so we do it. We have an hour program. We’re the only one, we believe, in the country that deals with seniors and the term “SAFE” – how we came up with it, “Seniors who are Abused or Financially Exploited” – and we have guests from all over the country. This goes nationwide. But it’ll give you some good ideas and hopefully you’ll be able to listen to some ideas of people who’ve called to help you, not just law enforcement. We tell everybody, “I’m not a lawyer but you can contact your lawyer or contact legal aide, contact somebody.” There are a lot of issues that are very unique, and we’re not here to give legal advice. We’re here to point you where to go. And one of our training things, I did mention but it’s appropriate now, is what’s really misunderstood is the power of attorney for seniors, and I was shocked, and actually they tweaked the law here in Georgia last year, but the main points we tell everybody is see a lawyer. You can go to legal aide, but if you put a power of attorney in, you can rescind it. They’ve been convinced, a lot of seniors, that once I gave it to Mary Jo, I can’t get it back. Well that’s just not true.
Smith: It’s not a guardianship, which is also a big problem, but at least with power of attorney, you can rescind it.
Joe: Right. These are things that we actually have pamphlets that are made, I should have brought some, that we give out and we go to all these senior centers throughout. Take advantage of the senior centers wherever you are. It’s a great resource and they have a lot of handouts and they send them. We will go to any group to hold a seminar for seniors. We will bring in normally the local regulatory people and law enforcement people so you all get to know who they are. And then I’ll be honest with you, most of the information of helping them, I mean we give it our way. We give it out afterwards and it’s in these little individual meetings, like, “I have an uncle that does so,” and they don’t want to stand up and say that.
Schenk: Appreciate it.
Joe: Well we’ll be back.
Schenk: Thanks, Joe.
Joe: So with that, we’ll look forward to it.
Smith: And that concludes the episode. We’re really happy we had Joe on here. We’ll try to have more resources in the future for Joe’s group once they get the website up, but other than that, you can catch our podcast via YouTube – if you do, make sure you click on the “Like” button, or you can always go to Spotify or anywhere that you download MP3s, including iTunes, and of course you can find us on the web at NursingHomeAbusePodcast.com. Other than that, I guess we’ll see you next time.
Schenk: See you next time.