When You Hear the Word ‘Guardian’, What Leaps to Mind?

Like most people, you’re probably thinking that guardians keep you safe. And for the most part, you’d be right. A guardian is someone who should be keeping you from harm, who protects you from danger, like a parent. After all, isn’t that why parents are called guardians under our legal system?

Unfortunately, while these are all the things a guardian should be, too often we see the meaning of the word twisted to benefit someone else.

Guardianship is receiving a lot of attention these days. You may have noticed our header for the annual appeal this year with the posed question: “What do SeniorLAW Center and Britney Spears have in common?”

We are both dedicated to shining a spotlight on the nationwide scourge of guardianship abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In tones of heartbreak, frustration, and anger, Britney Spears has described in detail her powerlessness to control nearly every aspect of her life.

Whether you’re a pop icon embroiled in a 13-year guardianship saga, or our client Joseph who just wants to live in safety and peace, this issue is finally receiving the attention it demands.

Joseph’s Story

Meet Joseph, a 79-year-old SeniorLAW Center client who had received treatment at a rehab facility for a blood clot. After he received treatment, his hospital sent him to a local rehab facility. While there, Joseph had no therapy, no services. Just a bed and three meals a day.

On his own, Joseph regained his strength and asked to go home. But the facility refused to let him go. Why? Because the rehab doctor said he was “incapacitated.” They used this diagnosis to apply for guardianship.
But Joseph was just fine. Eventually he was allowed to leave. But the rehab facility continued to pursue guardianship…we believe to get paid from Medicaid for Joseph’s stay.

Can you imagine…sacrificing someone’s independence for money?

That’s when Joseph called us for help. We got him a second opinion. Thanks to our efforts, their attorney withdrew the guardianship petition before the first hearing.

Today, we are helping Joseph arrange his affairs to ensure he never has to go through this nightmare again.

Thanks to SeniorLAW Center, Joseph found his way out of what might have been a terrible ordeal. But what if we had not intervened so quickly? What happens to all the other older people who might face a similar situation, but have no idea where to turn for help?

How SeniorLAW Center Helps

If a Pennsylvania court deems you “incapacitated” and assigns you a guardian, you may lose near-complete control of fundamental decisions about your life: where to live, how to spend your income or manage your assets, and even who can come visit you or not. Of course, guardianship may be necessary in many cases, and there are many wonderful guardians who care deeply for the people they love. In the hands of a malicious party, however, guardianship can destroy nearly every single facet of independence in your life.

Through your continued support, SeniorLAW Center has already made great strides in reducing guardianship abuse in the state of Pennsylvania. Through our advocacy and work with courts, legislators, and partners across the state, we helped develop and update the Guardianship Tracking System, which standardizes guardianship filing and reporting state-wide. In addition, through SeniorLAW Center’s advocacy, guardians are now required to submit a criminal record check from each state they lived in over the past five years.

We are so proud to share all these successes and more with you because we could not have achieved anything without your continued support. Now, during a time when guardianship abuse is on everyone’s mind, we need you now more than ever.

Will you join us in helping seek justice for older Pennsylvanians like Joseph across the Commonwealth?

How You can Help

Older Pennsylvanians continue to need SeniorLAW Center services. Your support helps not only to prevent guardian abuse, but also unlawful eviction, elder abuse, financial exploitation, homelessness, and poverty.

COVID-19 continues to exacerbate the need for our services. The eviction crisis is still imploding, older people are facing egregious forms of elder abuse and financial exploitation, grandparents raising grandchildren need essential resources in order to raise children who have been abandoned, abused or neglected, and so much more.

Our case load grows larger every year. Your gift of support helps SeniorLAW Center serve more and more older Pennsylvanians when they need us most. Today, given the countless challenges our clients face, we would be so grateful if you would support SeniorLAW Center with a donation…any amount you are able to give. Thank you again for being there for Pennsylvania’s vulnerable older people. Thank you for believing in SeniorLAW Center.

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Help Support SeniorLAW Center

Your support of SeniorLAW Center helps to ensure that Pennsylvania’s elders may age with dignity and safety, free from abuse and violence, in their homes and neighborhoods.

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