I have an elderly relative, he has no children so we are his caregivers, who lives 6 hours away. He would be considered mentally competent and has had a variety of caregivers since his wife died a few years ago.

In March he hired a woman who had recently left rehab and had an arrest record. He is an ex-psychologist so the idea of rehabilitating her was attractive but the deal was no drugs or alcohol. In June, he told my husband that he didn't know if he could support a fiance and her adult children. Now they have set a date for the wedding - she is 47 years old and he is 81 and on a walker.

She was arrested last week for drunk and disorderly. He tells everyone he doesn't know if he should marry her and she needs to go when she's not around. But, when she's there all conversations have to be on speaker phone and he's totally in love.

He can barely walk and she took him down an escalator a few weeks ago. Shockingly, he fell down it.

No one is allowed to stop by unannounced and, if they do, they can't go in the house. We went to see him last month and she now has control of his finances and convinced him that his previous bookkeeper embezzled money from him. It was the first thing he told us when we walked in the door.

Lots of behavioral changes, from saying something and then denying it to forgetting or ignoring his favorite sporting events.

My husband, a close friend of our relative and I are very concerned, especially since she has an arrest history and is known in the community for doing this to other men. She also has no way to support herself if he throws her out. She doesn't have a house, car and that is part of the original reason he took her in. Legally it all changes if they get married and we are trying to divert this disaster.

Does anyone know what steps we should take? He lives in North Carolina and we live in Virginia.

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Thank you! This is all great advice. His wife died extremely unexpectedly and we've been trying to prevent this ever since. He has a sister and brother still living but no "immediate" family, i.e. children or spouse. We are all very concerned and just aren't sure where to start. APS told me I could do a welfare check or file a report but they couldn't guarantee the report would be followed up on. I don't want to raise her suspicions because we want to keep access to him. I really appreciate the steps you gave me. Even if nothing comes of it, which I hope isn't the case, just having a plan of action feels better.
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Uh, oh. This is a really dangerous, volatile situation with land mines already exploding.

1. You quickly identified one of the factors: as a former psychologist, he's primed in the helping mode as a professional. She probably triggered that response and is exploiting it for her own benefit.

2. And he's probably lonely and flattered by a younger woman's attention,sinking deeper in her honey/quicksand trap.

3. Does he have any family left to intervene, as in ASAP?

4. If there are no family members, I would immediately contact the NC police in his area and ask about intervention. It wouldn't surprise me if they're reluctant to get involved, so raise the issue of her criminal record and ask about injunctive relief to keep her from contacting him. But this is iffy as well; hopefully you'll find a sympathetic officer.

4. I'm assuming you don't have any legal authority for intervening in his affairs, so you might also have to involve the local APS which could get legal authority to intervene if necessary.

5. APS could probably also arrange for a medical exam to determine his competency to make decisions. If found lacking, APS could, or would know of an agency that could, act on his behalf as a vulnerable adult to get ex parte (w/o a hearing) relief to prevent her from contacting him, and dipping into his bank accounts.

6. Research NC's state offices to determine if there's an elder law agency (Michigan has the Elder Law of Michigan group which is incredibly helpful). Raise the issues with them and ask how, as relatives (presumably w/o legal authority to act in his behalf) can intervene to protect a vulnerable adult relative.

7. Be sure to raise the issue of predatory control, restricting access to him.

8. See if one of the police departments, even your local one, can give you a printout of her criminal activity. Your relative may not wish to see it, but if you can get him alone, point out that she's a career criminal - and emphasize her past predatory actions.

9. This is important: contact the NC state correctional department to find out how to determine if a criminal is on parole. They might refer you to the local jurisdictions of her crimes, so you may have to contact them (i.e., the various areas in which she's had past criminal activity. I have a feeling she "moves around" to find the best targets.

As a repeat offender, it's very possible she is on parole, and that she's in violation if she was ever restricted from hussling older men. If so, her parole officer can violate her and initiate a hearing on the violation.

It wouldn't hurt to provide details on her latest activities, especially that she's got control of his finances.

10. Raise the escalator issue with the police and APS. Maybe her black widow genes have already activated, now that she's taken financial control.

I would think under the circumstances of his limited mobility, that such action on an escalator poses the threat of immediate harm. It most certainly does show that she doesn't know how to handle someone with his medical conditions and either doesn't understand or doesn't appreciate that escalators are not for people with walking limitations.

11. I think you might have to (a) file for guardianship or (b) ask APS to do so, to get her out of the picture if legal maneuvers don't work. Apparently he has some funds, so he might have enough to pay for a professional guardian (although I would never suggest this if there were decent alternatives), as they'll go through his money very quickly with their fees.

12. Another thing I wouldn't normally suggest but in this case I will. Bring him to stay with you for a few weeks, get him examined by a doctor to determine competency. Ask for blood work; I'm wondering if she's giving him unauthorized medicines to help control and manipulate him.

Be prepared for explosions though. He'll probably be angry, especially at you if he doesn't really understand what this woman is up to, and that seems pretty obvious.

13. This is really a long shot, but if she's a career manhunter, there is a pattern. The RICO statute addresses patterns of criminal activity. Originally enacted to address organized crime, I read some years ago that prosecutors were using the underlying pattern activity to expand to other forms of repeated criminal activity.

I haven't done any research on, nor do I know if RICO could be used for the proverbial black widows.

14. That raises another issue - what's happened to her former victims? Are they still living? Even if they were older, they still could meet an "untimely end."

Your post is very similar to one last year, I believe, in which a family was desperate to find workable solutions to deal with a woman operating in conjunction with another who acted as spotter, targeting older men.

If I can find it, I'll provide the URL and you can read what that family tried.
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Get on the phone to the Area agency on Aging in his county and tell them tbis story. As their advice. Get the number for Adult Protective Services in his area from the AAA.

Sadly, if he is competent, he can do as he pleases. But make sure he understands that if he makes this foolish move, you will not be supporting him.

A line that once worked for me... " you're too smart to do something this stupid". And as a psychologist, he knows all about the ethics of trying to rehabilitate someone you have a financial relationship with.
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