News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.

Mission

The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

Pair allegedly swindled $450,000 meant for cat

John R. Ellement | The Boston Globe | April 17, 2014

Two Brighton roommates allegedly concocted a brazen scheme to bilk an ailing, elderly neighbor of $450,000 by agreeing to use the money to care for the woman’s beloved cat as long as it lived.

But instead of safeguarding the assets for the pet, a tabby named Puddy Cat, the two women are accused of going on a spending spree, buying a $28,000 Mini Cooper car, an iPad, a Vitamix blender, and a Netflix subscription — all while the 74-year-old woman, who suffers from dementia, was in a nursing home. They also siphoned off tens of thousands of dollars in cash, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Michele Granda said in Suffolk Superior Court Thursday.

Protecting our Parents: Can Science Help?

High-profile schemes to defraud the elderly of their lifetime savings have headlined top newspapers and tabloids alike. There was Brooke Astor, whose son and attorney were convicted of criminal fraud, Anna Nicole Smith and the fight over J. Edgar Marshall’s inheritance, and Huguette Clark, a multi-billionaire who lived for years in a hospital and whose death prompted a criminal investigation into her donations and inheritance. Unfortunately, these notorious cases are merely the tip of a vast and growing iceberg of financial fraud against the elderly. In 2011, Metlife Mature Market Institute estimated an annual loss of $2.9 billion in fraud against elders. Recent surveys indicate that more than 7.3 million Americans over 65 have been victims of financial fraud. As crime rates — and vulnerable populations — increase, the scientific and legal communities must pool our ever-increasing knowledge and resources to protect elderly family members.

Read the full article on the Huffington Post, published February 21, 2014. By Bruce H. Price, MD and Ekaterina Pivovarova, PhD. Written with Judith G. Edersheim, JD, MD.

For further resources on elder fraud and decision making, see the reference materials from our December 2013 event Capacity, Decision-Making and the Elderly: Brain Science Meets the Law, and follow-up article in the Boston Globe “Scammers take aim at aging population,” by event moderator and Globe reporter Kay Lazar.

 

Watch: Capacity, Finances, and the Elderly: Brain Science Meets the Law

Capacity, Finances, and the Elderly

Click above to view the flyer for this event.

On December 12th, 2013, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Bornstein Amphitheater, CLBB joined forces with the Boston Society of Neurology and Psychiatry to host a conversation among experts in neurology, psychiatry, and the law about how the science of aging could impact how we protect older adults from victimization and undue influence. Where do we draw the line between protection and paternalism?  What constitutes a bad financial decision?  Who needs additional protections?

Panelists included Bruce H. Price, MD, Chief of Neurology at McLean Hospital and Co-Director of CLBB;  Rebecca W. Brendel, MD, JD, Consultant to the Law & Psychiatry Service at MGH, Clinical Director of the Home Base Program,  Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Susan Stenger, Attorney with decades of experience handling probate litigation, including undue influence and lack of capacity cases; and Judge Susan Ricci, Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court in Worcester.

Kay Lazar, Health Reporter at the Boston Globe with a focus on Aging, Sports Medicine and Public Health, moderated a panel discussion and Audience Q&A following the speaker remarks.

To watch video from this event, visit our Vimeo channel on Capacity, or watch individual segments below.

Also, read Kay Lazar’s story about this topic and CLBB’s role in the Boston Globe.

Continue reading »

Financial Fraud in Nursing Homes: States Need Better Screening for Office Workers

The states have long been concerned with caregiver qualifications for nursing home employees. The elderly, whose health is failing, are at high risk for abuse, neglect, maltreatment, and assault by staff and even other nursing home residents. Accordingly, each state has enacted screening procedure to conduct thorough background checks on staff, and in many cases residents, prior to granting them access to the facilities. Yet, as USA Today reports, this high degree of caution has failed to translate to office workers in nursing homes. Unfortunately, the lack of proper screening procedures, has resulted in thousands, if not millions of dollars, in fraud. Read the full story here.

This timely reminder of the vulnerability of elderly is just another reason that CLBB’s work on understanding decision-making by the elderly is essential. If you are interested in learning more, please attend our symposium on 12/12/13 on Capacity, Finances, and the Elderly: Brain Science Meets the Law.

Source: USA Today, December 1, 2013.