By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
Where do I start? First, the number of Houston Press Menu of Menus tickets sold should have been limited, or there should have been two functions, one going from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and a second one from 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Second, there should have been roped lines, even if short ones, to delineate where lines were to be formed for each of the food and drink tables. Many times, after standing in a vague line, someone invariably would just walk up to the table, cut me off and take the next plate that I had been patiently and politely waiting in line for. Third, it was impossible to tell what you were getting in line for until you got to the table, so signs above the tables that the crowd could see would have been nice. Fourth, there were not nearly enough trash cans; by 7:45, plates were piled a foot high or more on the few tables available to stand and eat at. Fifth, the area should not have been restricted to such a small space; there was a lot of space over by the Butterfly Exhibit that could have been used. Fifth, more tables and chairs should have been set up for people to sit and eat, because it was impossible to hold the wine glass, the plate and the pamphlet and eat anything without first finding a place to park and set things down, and there was almost no place to park. Sixth, the A/C should have been cranked up, because with all those people in there, it was a sweatbox. Seventh, the Roman exhibit was hidden in the back upstairs, and I had to ask five different people where it was before I found it. Finally, the buttons and circles or whatever those things were, were useless; in fact, the lady who passed them out didn't even bother to explain what they were for, and I only got a button. Because I couldn't get to all of the stations, I did not cast my "vote" on best food or best arrangement or whatever the heck the button was for. It was a miserable experience, and I had to apologize to the friends I dragged there, which was embarrassing, not to mention, we didn't get to more than six of the food stations because it was so crowded we left in defeat by 7:50 p.m. Pathetic — for the price of the ticket, it was totally pathetic.
Protect the elderly: I would like to thank Todd Spivak for his great article exposing elder abuse by the guardianship system that is supposed to protect people [“Taking Care,” April 19]. Unfortunately, these cases aren't unusual and many have horrific endings. I would like to see Todd do an in-depth article exposing how pervasive these cases of inappropriate guardianships really are.
There is a wonderful organization that would be a great asset in researching this subject. The National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse was founded by Robin C. Westmiller, who wrote a book about her dad's horrendous experience. Called Blood Tastes Lousy with Scotch, it's about how the author rescued her father from greedy cousins, thieving attorneys and the Florida Guardianship System. The court-appointed guardian got away with putting Robin's father in a nursing home without revealing to the facility that he had a wife, a daughter and three grandchildren, and depleted over $500,000 of his money in 18 months. Robin recently graduated law school and will be taking the California Bar in July. Last May she founded NASGA, which now has over 125 members in 22 states, all victims of this horrific guardianship experience. They can be found on the Web at nasga.us or www.stopguardianabuse.org.
My mother was held against her will at a nursing home for seven and a half months and hidden from visitors. Finally back home, she is now regaining abilities that she lost while at the nursing home. According to Westmiller, abduction and isolation are key factors when there is money involved. The emotional abuse of isolation takes its toll. People in nursing homes that take Medicare or Medicaid have a federal right of immediate access to their relatives. Nevertheless, there is an article in the June issue of the Ladies' Home Journal, under the Family Front Section, that exposes how that right is too often ignored. As in my case, the police too often go along with a nursing home's request to simply impose a "trespassing" ban against a relative. More effort needs to be made to uphold the rights of the elderly.
Federal and state laws are being ignored, and there are few experienced attorneys willing to take on these cases because, as Todd pointed out in his article, it can cost many thousands of dollars. Most families don't have that kind of money; meanwhile, the guardians are free to pay their own attorneys with the families' money to fight to keep the "cash cows" incarcerated in nursing homes.
I am looking forward to another great article by Spivak on the extremely flawed guardianship system in this country.