Cathy Schottenstein Blog
People may believe, since I am writing a book about my grandma’s ordeal and her experience with elder abuse, that I jumped at the opportunity to support her during the actual trial. The truth is this: I wavered for weeks about getting involved in the process. Ultimately, reality and morality won over my personal reticence, and I agreed to take the stand on my grandma’s behalf and testified against the perpetrators, my two first cousins Evan and Avi. They had done our grandmother a terrible wrong. They had to be brought to justice, they had to make restitution, and they had to stop their intolerable harassment.
Although we had never been close, I am closely related to Evan and Avi. They are sons of my Uncle Bobby, my father’s younger brother. At best I have neutral memories of Evan and Avi growing up, but at many of the momentous occasions of my life—my Bat Mitzvah, my wedding, my first-born son’s bris—they were there. We share a lineage and a history, and no one wants to aid in ruining another person’s life. But they had crossed a dangerous line with heedless disregard to the consequences. Now they would have to face the music. Read more
Five years ago, my grandmother whom I call Nanny, Beverley Schottenstein, had no idea that anything nefarious was going on within her account. Though she did ask her grandsons Evan and Avi why she wasn’t receiving monthly statements, they assured her that J.P. Morgan no longer sent paper statements to their clients, and since Nanny didn’t have a computer, they said they were diligently reviewing her holdings and overall account performance on their own. They swore they were doing an incredible job, that her account was appreciating considerably, and that she was outperforming major market indexes on a regular basis. Actually, none of that was true. Both grandsons were living high on the hog with her money—she just didn’t know it yet.
In 2016 Nanny broke her hip and began looking for daily care. She asked around, and several acquaintances highly recommended a woman named Dawn Henry. Dawn was a highly experienced caretaker with several licenses and a long history of caring for the elderly. Dawn, born in Jamaica, West Indies, now lived in a lovely home in Hollywood, Florida, a thirty-minute drive from Nanny’s home, with her husband, Lance Henry, a general contractor, and her college-age son Zach. When Dawn and Nanny first met, there was an instant connection. “I fell in love with this lovely little woman immediately,” Dawn said. “I knew she was a real mensch.” Read more
Many seniors are fortunate. They are being well cared for, whether in assisted-living facilities or in their own homes, even though some may be mentally or physically compromised in their advancing years. By contrast, other vulnerable elders are being neglected, abused, isolated, and financially exploited. The sinners committing these crimes may be care facility workers, home health aides, financial advisors—or yes, sadly, even family members.
Elder abuse, which is on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, is an ongoing, often hidden social, cultural, and ethical problem. It affects as many as five million people each year, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. Another non-profit watchdog organization, The National Council on Aging, lists seven aspects of elder abuse, which are often commingled: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, confinement, passive neglect, willful deprivation, and financial exploitation.
Being rich and famous is no protection from predators. In 2011 the Los Angeles Superior Court issued restraining orders against Chris and Christina Aber, the stepchildren of Mickey Rooney. Rooney’s lawyers claimed they emotionally abused and financially exploited the beloved actor. Rooney’s stepchildren were even accused of denying Rooney basic food and medicine. The legendary star died a few years later in 2014. Read more