Take care in selecting caregivers

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To the Editor:

I read with interest the article titled “Caribbean Cruise: Gifted or stolen?” (Nov. 21), about two caregivers charged in an alleged scheme to bilk an elder they worked for, in the Martha’s Vineyard Times. I had a similar experience with two women who provided care for my husband in 2018, when he was homebound with Alzheimer’s disease.

I employed these two women on referral by an acquaintance, and thought nothing of leaving them alone with my husband. Several months after my husband’s death, I discovered that a collection of antique buttons was missing, as were numerous other precious heirlooms that had been stored in the basement. While I acknowledge that most caregivers are good, honest, hard-working people, I wish I had not been so trusting, and had taken measures to protect my valuables. I also wish I had gone through an agency that carefully screens its caregivers, and takes appropriate action when unprofessional behavior is uncovered. 

Given the changing demographics of our Island, the demand for elder care is sure to increase, as will commercial opportunities. The Vineyard needs a better system of oversight. Until then, I hope those who privately hire caregivers will learn from my mistakes and take steps to protect their assets and financial information. 

Katharine A. Colon
Vineyard Haven

1 COMMENT

  1. I had similar experiences with elderly relatives. In keeping with their wishes to remain at home versus an old-age home we have numerous experiences with many care-givers. An elderly person home alone will ‘gravitate’ and become ’emotionally’ attached to whomever is there since that person is ‘the only one paying attention to me” (their words) As such, they are gullible to lending money, putting things on the credit card etc. We had a caregiver that would take the credit card to shop, and was observed meeting her husband in the store parking lot to give him a few bags of groceries on our tab. We had an expensive wine collection disappear. A few thousand in cash also disappeared. You cant be there 24/7 to watch, but the best policy is to hire an agency so that in the event of a problem the liability rests with them. Also, I’d recommend the ‘rotation’ of employees so that the elderly person does not become emotionally attached to the caregiver. The agency costs more, but its worth it.

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