Did you know that Wall Street has found a way to cheat, steal, and defraud Americans without ever being held accountable for their actions? It’s called forced arbitration.

Buried in the fine print of many bank and credit terms of service are dangerous forced arbitration clauses that kick cheated consumers out of court and instead funnel them into a secretive dispute mill rigged in favor of Big Banks and predatory lenders. With forced arbitration, corporations have granted themselves a license to steal and evade the law. And they are getting away with it.

But with your help, this can be stopped. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) can revoke corporations’ license to steal by stopping the abusive practice of forced arbitration.

Join me in telling the CFPB to put Americans’ financial security above Wall Street profits and stop forced arbitration. Sign the petition to the CFPB today!

Petition: https://www.change.org/p/revoke-corporations-license-to-steal-stop-forced-arbitration

Thank you –


The Ithaca Journal interviewed renowned aging and long term care expert Bill Thomas who is an author, physician, and internationally recognized authority on longevity.  H is challenging conventional views on aging and long term care.  He is the co-founder of the The Eden Alternative and founder of the Green House Project.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. You wear many hats as an expert on aging, author, gerontologist and performer who is working toward changing the culture of aging, how do you synthesize your work?

The first thing I would emphasize is that I’m a nursing home abolitionist. I believe that American society made a wrong turn about a half century ago when it started institutionalizing older people on a mass scale. This experiment has been conducted and failed. These institutions don’t provide people with a life worth living and it’s time to think about a future without nursing homes.

I’m a pro aging activist. I write about it, think about it and perform and travel and tour trying to help our culture and society begin to identify how we might rethink or re-imagine aging.

Where did we go wrong as a society?

The problem is that we created a system that encourages people to think of older people by their deficits and weaknesses and not to think of them of their strengths, wisdom and well-being. The nursing homes see themselves doing a good job if they attend to the medicines and the cleanliness and bring the nice volunteers in now and then. The problem isn’t them, they’re playing the game the way they understand it. The problem is the game is rigged in such a way that the only thing that matters to them is their decline. What we argue for is a different approach where what matters most about older people is their growth.

What does that look like in practice?

The emphasis is on relationships. A nursing home can be full of people and be the loneliest place in the world. If you don’t have relationships that matter, then it’s hard to find joy.

You co-founded the Eden Alternative approach with your wife, Jude Meyers-Thomas, (in 1992) and now there are over 500 long-term care facilities that have adopted the philosophy around the world. Can you explain what it is?

The Eden Alternative is what I call a heart transplant for a nursing home. We take out the mechanical heart and we put in a real flesh and blood heart. The whole idea of the Eden Alternative is that people in order to thrive need to be connected to the world around them and to live in a place that is more like a garden and less like a hospital.

And the Green House Project?

The Green House grew out of the Eden Alternative. It is a small intentional community of 10 elders (in over 27 states around the country). You want to live in a house you come to know. One of the definitions of a nursing home is a “life among strangers.” In a Green House there are no strangers and that’s key.

Part of your work is combating agism, can you talk about that and some concrete steps we can take to fight agism?

Agism is like racism and sexism in that people are judged on a single attribute and conclusions are drawn on them. Part of the work I do is campaign against agism. I call out ageist language and policies where I see them. It’s amazing how pervasive it is. The word “elderly” for instance. “Elder” carries with it a picture of a person accomplished in life, not their job, but they have an abundance of lived experience. “Elderly” is frail weak, disabled, diminished, suffering. What I find is there is no redeeming parts of the word “elderly.” There’s no good part. You never find older people using the word “elderly” to refer to themselves. You never meet a person who says, “I’m Tom’s elderly mother.”

Another word that is used thoughtlessly is “still.” You can take any sentence about any older person and use the word “still” to indicate ageist bias. Your mom “still drives.” It’s exactly the same meaning “my mom drives,” “my dad works as a lawyer, he’s 86.” “Still” says this person is admirable because this person acts like a young person and says young people are admirable and old people aren’t. So if you want to be an admirable old person you have to act like a young person. And the word “still” is used as a form of praise but in fact it’s coming out of a deficit.

And what can we do to help change the culture of aging?

One thing we can do is change the map of your life. In the map of life we have as a society, you grow to maturity, become an adult and then do everything in your power to remain an adult as long as you live, independent, productive, valuable. That’s the map. However, for a large part of human history the map of life for women, for instance, was: maiden, mother, crone. Crone meaning a woman wise with time. A crone would be a midwife, a healer, a counselor, a matriarch. A woman who had outgrown motherhood, adulthood and into another phase of life.

What do you envision for the future?

Eldertopia. It’s a society where we create an abundance of opportunities for the old to rely upon the young and the young upon the old. We’ll know we’re there when there’s a real increase in inter-generational reciprocity. What we want is to bring the generations together so they can rely on each other. America does a lot of wasteful things but the catastrophic waste of the wisdom and life experience of older people is probably the most shocking and decadent misuse of an abundant natural resource and that’s the lived experience of older people.

As part of the ongoing campaign to end forced arbitration, AAJ joined with the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) and the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) to launch a petition urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to prohibit forced arbitration.

We need your help! Please join us in telling the CFPB to restore corporate accountability and stop forced arbitration.

Sign the Petition: http://ow.ly/K1Rvi

Share & Like on Facebook: http://ow.ly/K1SrU

 Retweet on Twitter: http://ow.ly/K1Sw7


The Patriot News reported the disturbing theft of jewelry of residents at Church of God Home.  An engaged couple, Laneice Baker and Dwayne Banks, are accused of pawning jewelry stolen from nursing home patients.  Baker, who worked as a certified nurse assistant at the nursing home from October 2014 to February 2015, stole wedding bands, rings and other jewelry from patients, police said. Residents of the home discovered their rings were missing from their fingers or their rooms while they slept, according to police reports.  Baker is charged with several counts including felony theft, and receiving stolen property. Banks is charged with receiving stolen property and conspiracy to receive stolen property.

Baker and Banks were caught after North Middletown Twp. Police and executives at Church of God Home narrowed down a list of suspects. State police in Chambersburg arrested the couple and transported them to Cumberland County Prison.


Detroit’s WXYZ reported that the family of a 69-year-old woman who was raped by a Sterling Heights nursing home employee is now suing the facility for negligence.  The victim claims workers at HarborChase of Sterling Heights knew about other sexual assaults by 22-year-old Mazen Zuhairi, but failed to stop them or fire him timely.  Zuhairi was sentenced to two to 20 years in prison for raping the woman last May.


The Bangor Daily News reported that Sara N. Comtois who had been charged with gross sexual assault as a result of an incident at a local nursing home a year ago has pleaded guilty to lesser charges, according to documents filed in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court in Ellsworth.  Comtois was working as a nursing aide at Penobscot Nursing Home.  She received a sentence of three years in prison with all but 45 days suspended for conviction on a Class C felony charge of intentionally endangering the welfare of a dependent person. Comtois also pleaded guilty to a charge of assault in relation to the March 26, 2014, incident and was ordered to pay $415 in fines, fees and surcharges, according to court documents. She will begin serving two years of probation upon her release from jail.

The two counts of gross sexual assault were dismissed as a result of a plea deal with prosecutors. The victim in the incident was a 74-year-old man who was a resident at the home, which shut down last summer after the federal Department of Health and Human Services decided to revoke the facility’s Medicaid and Medicare certifications. According to federal investigative reports on the facility, the assault was one of several incidents that prompted the closure of the nursing home, which was licensed to have up to 54 patients.

Other factors related to the revocation order that were cited in reports by federal inspectors include:

— The April 29, 2014, death of a patient after a fall at the nursing home.

— Substandard physical conditions and sanitary practices.

— Improper or insufficient record keeping, physician visits and handling of patient medications.

The Daily News reported the tragic sexual abuse of a vulnerable nursing home resident.  The nurse who sexually abused the resident t with dementia took a plea deal that’ll send him behind bars for just six months.  Nanic Aidasani, 42, pleaded guilty in Bronx Supreme Court to endangering the welfare of an elderly person and sex abuse at the Manhattanville Health Center on Feb. 18, 2014.  Under the terms of the deal, Aidasani will be stripped of his nursing license and have to register as a state sex offender.

The victim’s children said that the promised sentence wasn’t enough — but were relieved that the case was over.  “At least he’s paying some time,” said Loida Rivera, the victim’s 35-year-old daughter, tearing up outside the courtroom after the plea was announced.

Oregon Live reported the recent lawsuit filed by David E. Pattison for neglect at Avamere Crestview of Portland.  Pattison was under doctor’s orders not to walk after back surgery, so he checked into Avamere.  The first day there, he says, staff left him unattended in bed. After more than three hours of waiting to relieve himself, he finally — and painfully — made his way to the bathroom on his own, he says.  A call button he’d repeatedly pressed “either did not work or was ignored by staff,” states the suit. Staff had not left him a bed pan and Pattison “was unwilling to suffer the indignity of soiling himself,” so he eventually made his way to the toilet, the suit states.

Pattison claims he waited another 45 minutes sitting on the toilet for help, but no one came. When he tried to help himself, he ended up fracturing his pelvis, he says.  Pattison’s attorneys say that on their client’s first and only day at the nursing home, he had a view from his bed down the hall to the nurse’s station. But for the entire three-plus hours he waited in bed for a dose of pain medication and help to the bathroom, he saw no one

Pattison filed suit against the corporation that owns the nursing home, Avamere Health Services — claiming that the for-profit nursing home and its staff broke the Hippocratic Oath, “to do no harm.”  A searchable database compiled by the Oregon Department of Human Services shows 18 substantiated lapses in patient care from 2007 to present day at Crestview.Among the lapses: failing to provide adequate pain management, a fall that resulted from failing to provide adequate staffing and a resident who developed skin ulcers from the facility’s failure to provide appropriate skin care, according DHS.

Half of the damages that Pattison seeks are for past and future medical care. His suit claims that after he fractured his pelvis, he fell into a downward health spiral. And today, two years after the February 2013 incident, he spends 80 percent of his time in bed. Doctors had expected him to walk again after back surgery, but the pelvis fracture changed that.  The other half of damages that Pattison seeks are for his “serious loss of human dignity,” pain and suffering, the suit states.

The suit claims that Avamere’s actions “amounted to gross negligence” because the company was “aware of widespread care deficiencies,” but it “refused to implement adequate measures to correct” those problems. The suit points to substantiated allegations of shortcomings in patient care at both of the nursing homes, dating back to 2007.


The New York Times reported that Federal investigators say they have found evidence of widespread overuse of psychiatric drugs by older Americans with Alzheimer’s disease, and are recommending that Medicare officials take immediate action to reduce unnecessary prescriptions.  Experts have raised concern about the use of antipsychotic drugs to address behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The Food and Drug Administration says antipsychotic drugs are often associated with an increased risk of death when used to treat older adults with dementia who also have psychosis.  Antipsychotic drugs are expensive, costing hundreds of millions of Medicare dollars. They also increase the risk of death, falls with fractures, hospitalizations and other complications.

The findings by the Government Accountability Office, said officials needed to focus on overuse of such drugs by people with dementia who live at home or in assisted living facilities.  The Department of Health and Human Services “has taken little action” to reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs by older adults living outside nursing homes, the report said. Doctors sometimes prescribe antipsychotic drugs to calm patients with dementia –often in nursing homes that had inadequate numbers of employees.

 Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and chairwoman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, who with Mr. Carper requested the study, said, “The report raises many red flags concerning the potential misuse and excessive use of antipsychotic drugs for patients with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”

Toby S. Edelman, who represents patients as a lawyer at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, said, “We could save money and provide better care if nursing homes reduced the inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs.”

A Chicago psychiatrist pleaded guilty last month to taking illegal kickbacks of nearly $600,000 to prescribe an antipsychotic drug for his patients. The doctor, Michael J. Reinstein, also agreed to pay $3.79 million to the federal government and the State of Illinois to settle a lawsuit asserting that he had been involved in the submission of at least 140,000 false claims to Medicare and Medicaid. Law enforcement officials said he had prescribed clozapine for thousands of older and indigent mentally ill patients at 30 nursing homes and other sites.  The lawsuit said drug companies had paid kickbacks, consulting fees and entertainment expenses for Dr. Reinstein as part of an effort to induce him to write prescriptions for clozapine. Last March, Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries and a subsidiary, IVAX Pharmaceuticals, agreed to pay $27.6 million to settle allegations that they had violated federal and state False Claims Acts by making payments to Dr. Reinstein.

NJ Online had a great article about protecting loved ones from elder abuse quoting esteemed nursing home advocate/attorney Saul Gruber.  Our senior citizens are the heart of the population, but are often times forgotten when placed into long-term care facilities.

“The nursing homes get to a point where they are trying to make money and the biggest expense is labor, so that’s where they make cuts,” Gruber said. “Understaffing is the biggest problem. The employees are OK, but they can only do so much. If they are told to feed eight people at each meal, but those eight turn into 14, it’s tough.”

Federal guidelines were first put into place in 1987, Gruber said.  “Everything was put on paper,” he said. “Everything they had to do to maintain patient care. They know what they’re supposed to do. The problem is they aren’t doing it.”

Signs of elder neglect or abuse

Bed sores – Pressure ulcers or bedsores occur when a patient is not being moved often enough and not being fed a proper diet, according to Gruber. “We see those a lot,” he said of neglect cases. “I call them rotting, smelly holes in someone’s back.”

FallsGruber said it is the staff’s responsibility to do whatever is necessary to prevent falls. “There are a lot of things they can do,” he said. “If they fall out of bed, be sure the bed is near the wall. Use rails. If person seems to fall at 3 a.m., maybe take them to the bathroom at 2:30 a.m. so they don’t have to get out of bed. They are supposed to try to prevent falls. Prevention is key.

Strange smells – Gruber suggests conducting a “smell test.” “Bad smells are a give-away for many different issues,” he said. “Even if it’s a very antiseptic feel and smell, it’s not really a home, and what is that smell covering up?”


Care assessments – When a patient is admitted to a long-term facility, staff members are required to perform a “care assessment.” “They should be assessed so the staff knows what they need, what problems they have, and how to care for them,” Gruber said. “These assessments need to be done all the time because patients change.” Care assessments look for a patient’s “red flags” – such hazards as falling due to instability, pressure ulcers due to lack of movement, choking, and malnutrition.

“Then they are supposed to make up a care plan – it’s not magic,” Gruber said. “What are they at high risk for? And here’s what to do to prevent these issues and care for the patient.”  Then, that plan must be utilized faithfully.

“If a care plan is put into place to prevent falling and the patient continues falling, the staff can’t just say ‘oh well.’ They have to do more,” he said.

Be familiar with the staff – Gruber said, once your family member is settled, get to know the staff members who will be caring for your loved one.

“When you put someone into a facility, you have to become friendly with the staff because they will tell you what’s happening,” he said.

Vary your visitation – If a patient is being neglected or abused, staff members may pay attention to when the the family comes in and be sure that the situation looks perfect.

“Go visit at different times of the day,” Gruber said. “Don’t always go at 3 p.m. and don’t tell them when you are coming, and just see what’s happening.”

Check online – Gruber said medicare.gov publishes reports on the performance of each of the approximately 300 nursing homes throughout the state.

“Each nursing home has to be inspected a minimum of once per year,” he said. “It’s called a survey. They pull random charts, and interview staff and families, to make sure doing what they are supposed to be doing.”  These reports can show you what areas a facility has had problems with.

“When picking, look online at reports,” Gruber said. “If you think you don’t like a nursing home, don’t go there. If you’re already there and think something is wrong, it probably is.”  Gruber said the most import aspect is being present.

“You’ve got to be there,” he said. “some families are afraid that if they raise trouble, then when they are not there, their loved one won’t be cared for properly. Let (staff) know you will know if they neglect the patient.”

He said one of the most difficult parts of his job is dealing with a family’s guilt.

“I’ve sat here with clients crying, saying, ‘Why did I put my mom there? I knew it was bad and now she’s dead,'” Gruber said.