Norma Carpenter, a nurse and school board member, visited her 82-year-old mother regularly at a personal care home in Indiana County. The two would walk hand in hand through the home, stopping to hug each other.
Then, in October 2012, Norma was banned from visiting or calling her mother, Mary Little, who has dementia. Her visits, she was told, left her mother sad and depressed.
In December, Norma discovered that her mother had been moved nearly 100 miles away to a Fayette County nursing home.
All of these decisions were made by a court-appointed guardian.
“It’s terrible. I mean, you can’t see the person who loved you and raised you and she needs us now more than ever,” Norma said.
Pennsylvania is fourth in the country in terms of its elderly population, and as the state’s more than 3.3 million Baby Boomers join the ranks of the elderly, state courts and welfare systems will be put to the test. Guardianships are especially open to abuse because there is little regulation or oversight.