Love for Lottie - Elderly Adult Abuse Survivor

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Knowing Lottie’s Heart
Although her suffering causes a little piece of my heart to break every moment of each day, having the ability to be a source of comfort for my mother (Lottie Jones), also comforts me. This particular story begins with every little boy’s first love, his mother. When growing up, we learn so much from them.  How to care.  How to press forward.  How to be merciful and kind. How to love, share and give without expectation.  And how to be strong throughout some of life’s most trying adversities.
Each step along the way, we inevitably develop into a better person.

So many of the various lessons I have learned in life, as well as the positive outcomes, are directly related to the kindness and love I saw on full display as a child.  No matter what the circumstances, Lottie taught me that how we come out on the other side is determined by our actions and reactions.

By nature, my mother would always bend over backward to provide help and assistance to almost anyone in need.  Many times, this was done with great unknown sacrifices.  So, I had ample opportunity to see it firsthand many times.

 
Saving a Fish on Dry Land
Recently, Lottie compassionately opened her heart and her home to a family member she trusted and assisted many times over the years.  This was often done at her own expense and comfort.  Whether it was providing shelter, guidance, consoling, providing meals, health care or financial assistance, time and time again she rescued this individual from peril.  And like so many other children and adults over the years, he was quite aware of the abundance and outpouring of love, patience, and kindness.

During his tenure at her home, he would become angry and threatening at any attempts to provide knowledge and insight that would help him to be more successful on his own.  Over time, to keep peace in her own house, Lottie became more passive but also withdrawn and depressed.  My sister (Veneshe) and I had asked her repeatedly to sever all ties, but her heart was and still is that of a caring, loving individual. One day while talking to Lottie on the phone, I noticed that she began to repeat herself quite frequently during conversations.  When I asked if she was alright or needed me to drive down, she simply stated that she was tired.  However, Veneshe and I noticed it occurring with more frequency.

 
Diabolical and Despicable
During one of our frequent calls, Lottie stated that she had suffered a bad fall and hit her head quite hard. When I inquired about how it happened, she was not sure but said she think she hit her head on the metal strip on the stairs after falling.  I immediately asked to speak to the family member staying with her.  He told me he was aware of the fall.  When I asked if any first aid was applied or if mom had received any medical attention, he said no. I then asked why and was told that it was not that bad.

I called Veneshe to let her know about the head injury and was told that Lottie had also shared the information about the fall with her.  Neither of us could find out when it occurred.  We also noticed that the memory issues were not getting any better.  In subsequent calls we also learned Lottie had been in bed most of the day, having trouble sleeping and not eating properly.  Since Veneshe and I both lived out of state, we expressed to Lottie’s tenant the importance of getting proper medical attention ASAP.  Again and again we would get excuses about why he did not have time to do it.

In one call, Lottie mentioned that although her tenant had volunteered to assist with paying her bills online, she had suspicions he was not doing so and possibly stealing money from her accounts.  Knowing this was a delicate situation, I went to inquire about these matters in person on Lottie’s birthday this past winter.  He told me that Lottie was mistaken and that all the bills were paid and up to date.

I did notice she had lost a lot of weight and that the memory issues had gotten worse.  He promised me and assured me that he would take her to the doctor to get her checked out the week following my return home.  He did not.

 
COVID-19 Quarantine
After repeated calls and efforts to find out if Lottie had seen a doctor, I was fed up and decided to take off a week in March to visit her and do it myself.  Unfortunately, before our scheduled date for visiting, everyone was quarantined due to the coronavirus.  I shared the same frustrations that people around the world were feeling but for totally different reasons.  My mother needed me desperately and I could not be there.

I stayed in touch with Lottie almost daily via phone.  She told me that she was now suffering from acute pain in her lower back from another fall.  She was not sure when or how she fell but again said it happened on the metal strip on the back stairs.  I was truly angry and upset because both falls could not be remembered and explained but just so happened to occur in the exact same location.  I was beginning to feel that whatever happened, I was not getting the whole picture.
Lottie stated to me that she did not feel safe and was afraid of her tenant.

In several of our subsequent calls, Lottie said the bank had called several times but did not leave a message. I assured her I would investigate it when I came down again.  I also spoke to her tenant again about the urgency in seeking medical attention for Lottie. It was now late June.  When I really pressed him about the matter, he told me that he was not able to do it because he was working 7 days a week, 8 to 12 hours a day. 


Finding the Details and Investigating
It was past time for action!  In the latter part of June I went down unannounced.  It was Monday the 22nd.  As I drove up, I saw the tenant sitting on the back porch smoking and drinking alcohol.  He was not working the hours he stated to me.  I was furious.  I began collecting information about Lottie’s medical details so that I could try and set up an appointment with her doctor later in the week.


On Tuesday we went for a long drive along the shoreline and just talked.  She was very happy to be out of the house.  Within 3 minutes of arriving back at the house, the bank called while I was there.  She gave the agent permission to allow me to speak on her behalf.  Through my questioning we found that her credit card had been maxed out and that the bill had not been paid in almost three months.  To give us a bit of time to sort things out I made a large payment on her bill and requested information on speaking with someone at a local branch.

The next day Lottie and I were talking to an agent at the local bank to find out information on her accounts.  We received printouts of transactions for the past 24 months.

I poured over the statements for two days in total disbelief.  There were thousands of dollars in fraudulent transactions.  Other accounts had been opened using Lottie’s details to make payments.

I found new accounts and payments with PayPal, Amazon Prime, eBay, Verizon, Walmart Wireless, and a whole host of other devious transactions.  Every money account and credit account she had was accessed and virtually depleted.  Her Social Security and Retirement ended up at a minus 201 dollars.
Even to this day I am finding out about other accounts opened in moms name.


Some Good Days and Some Bad Days…
I knew it was best to get Lottie out of that situation while we navigated the complexities of dealing with the repercussions of the tenant’s actions. She also needed a place to heal.

Being involved in athletics most of my life has come in handy because the physical therapy is not something everyone would have the patience or ability to do.  It is one of the parts of our daily routine that I look forward to. We both enjoy it and get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing those little bits of progress that come over time.  Everything that can be practiced or relearned, no matter how simple, is a step in the right direction.  Even little things like a structured sequence of events, i.e., morning wash up followed by breakfast, Daily Bread, morning prayer and coffee talk can help to heal in so many ways.  Nevertheless, I am not equipped to handle the more pressing needs of the mental and emotional concerns.  The head injury coupled with mom’s age is a constant challenge and of deep concern.  I fear without the proper ongoing medical attention, over time she will become distant, dazed, and more confused.

Dealing with the emotional, physical, and mental decline from everything that has happened has been one of the most difficult aspects of this whole ordeal.  It is very soul crushing to hear someone you love crying while stating that she is so devastated and broken that her heart hurts beyond measuring.  Add to that finding her wondering the halls in mental distress in the middle of the night looking for you and asking, “You wont let anyone come and take me and put me away in one of those homes, will you?  You won’t let anybody hurt me, will you?” It leaves you ready to scream out in your own agonizing pain.  Mostly because all of this was avoidable.

 
The Long Road to Recovery
Each day is a blessing and we know it.  I am so glad mom is here now with a new doctor, a new environment and a new outlook and perspective on life.  She still has her moments of severe depression and fears throughout the day.  However, I am not ever far away and will do whatever necessary to keep her focused on the positive things that matter most while she continues to recover.

Sometimes people are thrust into situations that blindside them without any warning whatsoever.  My wife and I have this in common with mom now.  We took Lottie into our home to ensure she does not become the collateral damage of greedy impulses as so many other senior citizens do. Although we suddenly find ourselves staring into the abyss of what could not have been predicted in one thousand lifetimes, we have to move forward with purpose and conviction.

Dealing with an aging mom who has suffered great declines mentally, physically, and emotionally due to the trauma and stress of her situation and injuries had left us all feeling quite vulnerable as we sought assistance.  There will always be those who look to profit from someone’s misfortune.  Nothing can really prepare you for something like this.  Nevertheless, keeping a firm grip on your emotional state of mind can also keep you from making dire missteps.

Reaching out to the local police, social services, the bank holding the mortgage, creditors, and changing doctors to a local one have all had their share of delays and setbacks.

Bureaucratic red tape hurdles, COVID-19 closures affecting businesses and services are all just a part of the intricate fabric of recovery now.  Leaving your job to be an at home caretaker for an elderly adult is a 24/7 commitment with many challenges.  The additional financial burden is evident every day with things such as

·         Neurological visits and visits to other medical specialist

·         X-rays

·         Psychological examinations

·         Physical therapy

·         Traveling expenses

·         At home care

·         Household

·         Legal expenses, etc.

Nevertheless, we will prevail and be victorious.  It is our hope and prayer that this GoFundMe will be a great benefit to Lottie as she struggles to recovery on so many levels.

 

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Organizer

Daniel Ferebee 
Organizer
Waldorf, MD
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