Monthly case histories about the real guardianship experience
Guardianship Spotlight:
Beth Halprin, R.N., B.S.N.
Broward County Chapter President Designee
How I Became Involved in Guardianship

Beth Halprin
As a psychiatric nurse in Home Health Care for more than 30 years, I became keenly aware of the large number of elderly and mentally ill persons who needed assistance. Frequently, this population does not have family or friends able to legally navigate the medical and financial needs of their incapacitated loved one. Additionally, many of these people are easy targets for abuse, neglect and exploitation at the hands of those with malicious intentions. The members of the guardianship association have shown me that, through their depth of knowledge regarding these issues, many individuals are able to live out their senior years with quality and peace of mind. I am proud to be involved with this organization and have seen first hand the good that they have done for our community.
The Reuniting of a Family
Approximately three years ago I was asked by a nonprofit organi zation to visit the home of an elderly gentleman to see if guardianship was warranted.  I took one of the staff from the organization, as well as a professional  guardian.

"Ziggy" lived with his girlfriend of 20 years. She clearly had cognitive issues but was able to offer information regarding Ziggy's status. According to her, he had no contact with his multiple children. He appeared malnourished, disheveled, was unable to speak, and was not taking his medications. She also provided all of Ziggy's financial information, which showed that large amounts of money were being used to buy cars that we previously had no knowledge of, as well as other financial payouts.

We sent Ziggy to the hospital for a thorough evaluation. He was dehydrated, ravenous for food and medically unstable. An emergency temporary guardianship was put in place. The guardian was able to get Ziggy medically stable and later determined that the girlfriend was exploiting Ziggy and showering her children with gifts, including car payments. Once stabilized, Ziggy was placed in a safe environment and the guardian was able to determine that Ziggy had been isolated from his children for many years. Not only that, she found out that the children were more than eager to provide the care he needed!

The guardian had advocated for this gentleman and was able to reunite the family. One of his sons eventually took over the care for his father.

Last year I went to an event that was attended by many seniors in the community. I sat at a table and began a conversation with a gentleman and his son. They were both very well dressed, and based on my conversation with them, both were highly educated. After about 15 minutes I came to the realization that I was speaking with Ziggy and his son! I was astonished and had tears of happiness. Ziggy was speaking and socializing with others! The son was very thankful for my initial involvement with his father, but he repeatedly asked me to thank the guardian for all she had done, including being the voice for a person that was so neglected that he could no longer speak for himself. This is what guardianship is about.
What is a good tip for those selecting a guardian?
Light Bulb

I would recommend starting by looking at the Florida State Guardianship Association membership in your specific area. A rapport is important when questioning potential guardians and speaking to other professionals. It is necessary to understand that a guardian is an advocate for the ward and has a responsibility to act in a way that the person would have done before incapacitation. In a situation where there is friction between family members, the guardian will always act in favor of the ward, especially when it comes to safety.

- Beth
We hope these articles are informative for you. Please keep in mind  that some of the views expressed are not necessarily the opinions or  philosophies of other FSGA members. We recommend hiring a guardian  that is a good fit for you.
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