Monday, April 16, 2012

LAST WILL AND EMBEZZLEMENT: must-see documentary for seniors -- & their offspring

Not simply an expose of scams against seniors -- of which you may have seen a news story or two over the years -- but a thoughtful, frightening, reasoned exploration of these crimes, how they came about, what can be done (or can't, together with why not), LAST WILL AND EMBEZZLEMENT is a model documentary in many ways. I am sorry that the earlier DVD sent me to screen never arrived and its replacement came too late for me to cover prior to opening. But the film is so good and so important to our currently fast-aging society, that I am taking away from other posts to get this one up today.

The film's co-producer Pamela S.K. Glasner and her father were victims of one such scam, and their story, along with those of several others -- including long-time actor Mickey Rooney (below) -- are shown here. And while each story is heart-rending on its own, what the filmmakers do with these by talking with various experts in the field of geriatric care -- attorneys, social workers, and geriatric care managers, as well as the victims and their families -- is even more important.

You come away from this documentary with a renewed understanding of and appreciation for the plight of the elderly (and their families), as well as a better understanding of what can and can't be done in solving the crisis. The current combination of our (and the world's) increasingly aged population and the increasing economic strain on both individuals and the state has created a world in which the criminal justice system cannot or will not prosecute many of these crimes. Consequently, criminals who prey upon the elderly see and make use of their increased opportunity.

As one victim points out, "At least my father, with Alzheimers, did not realize what had happened." This, notes the film's excellent narrator Artie Pasquale, "is remedy by dementia." And it is terribly unjust. To its credit, the movie-makers (talented first-timer Deborah Louise Robinson, shown at right, is the director and co-writer) point out the difference between elder crime/abuse and interfering with an elderly's person's civil rights. As one social worker explains, It may be stupid or crazy, but any one of us has the right to go spend all our money on gambling -- unless we're found not to be of sound mind. There's often a fine line here, and the filmmakers admit this.

We get a very good explanation of the differences between Alzheimers disease and dementia. They are not the same: As the social worker points out, "When you've met one Alzheimer's patient, you've simply met one Alzheimer's patient, for the disease strikes each one in different ways."

You come away from this documentary with a much clearer understanding of the big picture regarding elder care, especially -- as is happening more and more often worldwide, because of a population that is living to a much older age --- older seniors who are being cared for by their already-senior relatives.

What to do? Put laws in place that make it more difficult for scam artists to cheat the elderly. More important, though, is insisting that law enforcement prosecute and punish the offenders. And that, in these current economic times, is a lot more problematic. In any case, this is indeed an important, must- see documentary that does its subject full justice.

Opening this past Friday at New York City's Quad Cinema, Last Will and Embezzlement, 82 minutes, from Starjack Entertainment, will also be shown at other venues across the country. Click here to see them all. Or order the DVD when it's available. In either case, see the film.

Stills, except for the one of Ms Robinson, 
are courtesy of Starjack Entertainment. 

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