Elder Care Abuse: Protect Those You LOVE

Wealth of the Wicked: An American Tragedy of Elderly Abuse

By Janice Lauderdale

Reviewed by Fran Lewis

Elder abuse is something that is very prevalent today. There are so many seniors that are left alone or have home care that often leaves them injured, riddled with bedsores, and in dire need of medical attention. Elderly people do not always understand their rights and thus they need an advocate to speak for and to protect them not only from physical and mental abuse but also from having their assets depleted by a relative or friend that is out to fleece them and use the elderly person’s resources as their own. Author Janice Lauderdale, in her novel Wealth of the Wicked: An American Tragedy of Elderly Abuse, brings to light this very issue in a poignant and heartbreaking story of a wonderful and trusting woman named Lucille.

Danielle Carrington is the niece of Lucille who has taken on the responsibility of caring for her elderly aunt. Danielle assists with her shopping needs, makes sure not only that Lucille’s medications are filled but also that she takes them, and  makes sure her finances are in order. But, when Lucille becomes unable to stay alone in her own house and requires assistance, the unthinkable happens. Since Lucille prefers remaining in her own home, there now enters her worst nightmare: Drake (her nephew and Danielle’s lazy freeloading brother) who has only his interests at heart. A really smooth operator and a great liar, Drake convinces his aunt to pay him what she felt was an outrageous amount of money to “care” for her. He claims he will cook her meals and clean her house, and make sure that she gets to all of her appointments. What does happen will make you shudder and make you want to take action along with Danielle against Drake for his horrific behavior.

Each time Danielle visits with her aunt, she sees Lucille declining in many different ways, but, the worst has yet to come! Danielle makes sure that her aunt’s finances are in order and that her safe deposit box, with all the money and documents remained untouched. When Drake convinces his aunt to turn over the money to him, Danielle takes action and you will not believe the end result. Drake then convinces Lucille to sign a bogus living trust, knowing full well that Lucille has no idea what she was signing!

The author takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster with Danielle using graphic descriptions of Lucille’s decline and Drake’s behavior which enables the reader to grapple with the mental capacity of how someone previously thought trustworthy could now heartlessly abuse this poor woman both mentally and physically. The verbal abuse and the physical neglect inflicted on this wonderful and kind woman will horrify you. Drake even dares to be rude and abusive to Danielle, often lashing out at her in order to prevent her from helping Lucille.

When Danielle realizes the unscrupulous pursuit of Drake to acquire all of Lucille’s assets and become sole heir of her house and finances, Danielle realizes that legal measures must be taken to stop him. But, in Drake’s twisted and sick mind, he feels and relates to the reader that he is the injured party and should be granted his aunt’s house and her money.

The scene in the courthouse is heartbreaking and makes you wonder about our legal system and how well the rights of the elderly are protected. Lucille, when questioned, seems brainwashed by her nephew, not realizing his true intentions. Will the judge see through all of the lies and deceptions? Where will Lucille reside at the end of the trial, and what will be the final outcome?

Lucille was diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimer’s; yet, I wonder if she had been properly taken care of if any of this would have happened. With a mother who does have the illness, it is horrific, and Aricept and Namenda will not restore the person’s memory or even enhance their cognition skills. Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder and was named for a German doctor by the name of Alois Alzheimer. He first described the disease in 1906. The disease destroys brain cells and the result is memory loss and problems with thinking and dealing with the world. It gets worse over time and there is no cure. But, with proper care, would Lucille have had this illness?

The trial goes on and the family of Lucille endures many changes. There now exists rifts among the members created by Drake’s actions.  Life becomes really hard for Danielle who was only concerned that justice be done, but in her quest for justice, she receives a harsh dose of reality from her family who, by the time of the trial, has ostracized her.

As you read about the trial you can hear the voices in your head of each of the witnesses and form your own opinion of how justice would best be served. To learn just what happens to Lucille’s estate and who does win, if you could call it winning, you need to read this book and understand why the author wrote it and how important her message to everyone is.

There is a National Center for Elder Abuse directed by the United States Administration on Aging. They are committed to helping national, state, and local partners in the field to prepare those who are going to care for the elderly so that they do so with this goal in mind:  so the elderly can live with integrity, independence and without abuse.

Throughout the process of getting the right home care for my mom, I dealt with various home health care agencies. Some of the workers were qualified and compassionate and there were some that were not. Some I found to be downright rude and abusive when speaking to my mom when they thought I was not listening while others were great. With a mother in the last stages of dementia/Alzheimer’s I am blessed to have four home health aides that are so wonderful, kind and compassionate. They are truly part of my family.

Janice Lauderdale has related a story that is near and dear to her heart because she lived it. She is still living what happened to her and she will never forget the abuse incurred by a member of her family by one of her family members.

This book also provides many resources so that everyone may learn not only the warning signs of elderly abuse but also where to find and get the help you might need. So, protect your loved ones, and make sure that they are in a safe and caring environment. As Danielle relates in her prayers to God throughout the book, so does this reviewer pray that Janice and her family never ever have to go through such an ordeal ever again.

Janice’s book is heartfelt, well-written, extremely emotional, and at times will bring you to tears as you feel the emotional upheaval that Danielle and her family encountered. This book should be in every library as a resource for those who want to better understand the issues that the author brings to light. It should be on the shelves of every nursing care facility to enable every medical provider to learn that when patients like Lucille are seen and present themselves as she did, the medical provider will know that immediate  action must be taken to protect an elderly person from the Wickedness of those trying to prey on them to become Wealthy.

If Lucille could speak she would say: Thank you Danielle for caring for righting the wrongs and caring for me. Thank you Janice for writing this book.

Thank you for giving me the honor of reviewing such an important book.

Fran Lewis: reviewer

Author of the Bertha Series of Books and Memories are Precious


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