Guest Column: The end of personal freedom

Imagine this scenario. You’re a decorated war veteran who fought for the freedoms this country stands for. You’ve worked your entire life to build financial security for yourself and your family. You’re a bit forgetful, perhaps your home is a bit untidy, but you like it that way. You eat what you want, when you want and are enjoying life in your golden years and the freedom you fought so hard to secure for our country.

Then, one day there’s a knock at your door. A stranger you’ve never met from Senior Services has decided you’re not making the right decisions “necessary to care for yourself,” and within a few days has made the decision for you that you need a “guardian.”

They produce a court order, signed and sealed, that strips you of your basic constitutional rights to your property and your liberty. You’re relocated to a nursing home, denied access to your family and your friends. You’re cut off from all communications with the outside world because the “guardian” is now in complete control over your life. You’re put on anti-psychotic medication; your cries for help fall on deaf ears. You die alone while some stranger sells your home, all of your possessions and keeps the proceeds for themselves, and you end up buried in an unmarked grave. Alone and forgotten.

This is not some horror story, nor a history of events that occurred in Nazi Germany. These are the true facts of what is happening in almost every state in our country and now has the Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich’s approval.

Under Illinois’ new Elder Abuse and Neglect Act, even though a person may be fully competent, a government official from Senior “Services” now has the power to decide whether they are “simply not making the decisions necessary to care for himself or herself” and, to take the “necessary steps to help the senior” including petitioning the court for guardians.

The new Act defines incapacity as “self-neglect,” a condition that is the result of an eligible adult’s “inability, due to physical or mental impairments or both, or a diminished capacity, to perform essential self-care tasks that substantially threaten his or her own health, including providing essential food, clothing, shelter and health care and obtaining goods and services necessary to maintain physical health, mental health, emotional well-being and general safety.”

This definition differs substantially from the Black Letter Law definition of an incapacitated person, which states: “An Incapacitated Person is a person who is impaired by an intoxicant, by mental illness or deficiency, or by physical illness or disability to the extent that personal decision-making is impossible.”

According to Senior Services Executive Director Bette Schoenholtz, “A person who is extremely literate, able to totally communicate what is going on on a daily basis, well read but not able to make a decision to place themselves in a safe living environment” so Senior Services of Illinois will make that decision for them by placing this individual in a “safe living environment,” whether or not they wish to go.

There is no protection from this “service” for individuals who do not wish to be helped. At this point, there is nothing anyone can do to prevent future abuse of the system as long as the government assumes what is “in the best interest” of an individual, ANY individual. “Hell no, I won’t go!” is no longer a battle cry of 18-year-olds avoiding the draft. The elderly are caught in the legal maze of guardianship abuse initiated by our government in a misguided effort to “care” for our citizens from birth to grave. We are becoming a “nanny” state, which ignores the cries and heartaches of victims and their families while the “guardians” and their attorneys are free to rape and pillage vulnerable citizens with the legislature’s and the judiciary’s blessing.

The National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse was formed in May of 2006 in an effort to unite fragmented senior advocacy organizations, victims and their families under one strong civil service action umbrella. We are committed to our mission to free victims from unwarranted and unlawful guardianship/government control.

The Illinois new Elder Abuse and Neglect Act simply makes NASGA’s effort to stop them more difficult. But far from impossible.

Robin C. Westmiller is president of the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (NASGA), Web site

From the Nov.8-14, 2006, issue

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