Alleged Theft Underscores Memory Loss Patient Vulnerability

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WEST PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — More than 400,000 individuals in Pennsylvania are living with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory loss disorders. It leaves these patients vulnerable in so many ways.

The number of patients with Alzheimer’s or related disorders is expected to increase significantly as baby boomers reach the age of 65 and older. They can become vulnerable to crimes of deception which police say is the case of a longtime West Pittston native.

“It’s heart-wrenching seeing the person that she was when I was young compared to the person that she is now,” A diagnosis of Dementia Alzheimer’s nearly two years ago has robbed Zach Smith’s grandmother of her memory. But police say that’s not all that’s been taken from 81-year-old Nadine Smith.

Karen Jacobs, who is Mrs. Smith’s daughter said “To me it’s just somebody taking advantage of someone who can’t understand and can’t defend themselves.” Ms. Jacobs alerted police claiming her mother was the victim of theft by deception earlier this year at the hands of the owner of a six car garage. Ms. Jacobs, who has Power of Attorney for all of her mom’s money matters, spotted a discrepancy dating back to February. She was making the rental payments on behalf of her mother for the rented garage space and knew something was fishy when she saw her mother attempted to write out checks.

It turns out her mother was incapable of signing the checks. Ms. Jacobs soon learned another check in the amount of $200 to the property owner was allegedly written by that same person. “And she wasn’t owed any money at that point. I had already given her the check for February which was cashed on the same day she cashed the check she wrote herself.”

While an alleged $200 dollar theft may not seem like much, it underscores a significant vulnerability memory loss patients experience according to Alzheimer’s Association Greater PA Chapter Programs & Services Vice President Clayton Jacobs. “It’s really important following a diagnosis or when you notice issues to have a care plan in place that includes openly talking about financial issues.”

Mr. Jacobs’ recommendations include working closely with your family bank or credit union to provide an extra layer of protection for your loved one struggling with memory loss. “They can help identify if something doesn’t seem right as we move down this road.”

The alleged victim is now living in an Alzheimer’s care unit. The defendant, Natalie Fiore of Wyoming, failed to show for Wednesday’s preliminary hearing and faces further legal action. You can get more advice at a 24/7 Alzheimer’s helpline at 800-272-3900 or by clicking here.

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