Elder abuse nightmares driving state petition push for visitation reform

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An Alabama woman is calling on state lawmakers to pass a bill to protect the rights of adult children of elders under the guardianship of others to visit their aging parents.

Carrie Ford – who started a petition on Change.org Saturday addressed to Sen. J.T Waggoner and Rep. Ronald Johnson – says in her appeal she was prevented under current state law from seeing her father, who as a ward of the state had been left in a bad way and isolated from his family.

In recent years, I wasn’t allowed to go through the gates at Liberty Park to visit my father, Robert G. Ford, MD.  I was stopped by security,” wrote Ford. “I had not seen my father in over 2 years, until March 9th, when my sister and I became aware that he was left in a 12,000 foot square house alone, and he has Alzheimer’s Disease.”

She wrote he was subjected to squalid conditions with no recourse.

“My father had no working phone, no food in the pantry or frig, no bed that he could access, no toilet paper, no hot water and no heat. He stayed at a local hospital for 6 weeks,” Ford’s appeal continues.

The story is familiar to elder law observers around the nation. Ford invoked the Kasem Cares – founded by the daughter of radio legend Casey Kasem – which advocates for just the kind of reforms Ford is calling for, including guarantees that children of elder patients will have access to their parents.

Kasem Cares has gotten results recently, passing versions of their model “Visitation Bill” in Iowa, Texas and California. Ford hopes she can get the same kind of momentum going in Alabama.

“You can do your part to end the silent epidemic of elder abuse by taking the pledge to stand up against elder abuse,” Ford wrote. “There are 10,000 people who are turning 65 each and every day (Pew Research Center), and we are rapidly approaching a time where nearly 50% of the population will be 65 or older. Together, we can end the silence of elder abuse by standing united and raising our voices against this growing problem.”

As of press time, the petition was 32 percent of the way to its goal of 100 signatures.

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