Mark Trusted His Neighbor…Find Out What Happened Next

July 14, 2016

Iona social worker Christine Kenny provides city-wide support to people with mild memory loss who live alone.
Iona social worker Christine Kenny provides city-wide support to people with mild memory loss who live alone.

Imagine having your trust broken by someone close, maybe even a neighbor. Now consider if you had no family support and significant memory loss. Where would you turn?

For Mark, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, Iona Senior Services — and more specifically, social worker Christine Kenny — was the answer. Funded through the D.C. Office on Aging, Christine is able to provide support to vulnerable older adults across the city who have mild memory loss and live alone. She provides money management support, making sure that clients pay their bills on time, are managing their personal funds, and are not being exploited.

Mark, who has visual impairment that makes reading mail particularly challenging, also depends on Christine to regularly open and sort his bills. When a routine review of Mark’s bank statement showed multiple ATM uses on the same day, Christine knew something was wrong. “Mark’s mobility is impaired; he couldn’t possibly have gone to two ATMs in the same day,” says Christine.

Immediately, Christine jumped into action. After speaking with Mark, she uncovered that a neighbor, who Mark had shared his card and PIN information with for assistance in emergencies, was withdrawing additional money without Mark’s knowledge. All told, the neighbor may have made more than $200 worth of unauthorized withdrawals, which is nearly 30% of Mark’s tight monthly income.

A Safety Net for Mark

Fortunately, Mark had Iona as his safety net. Besides referring the case to the Adult Protective Services, Christine has also offered other options like personally accompanying Mark to the bank. “There are a lot of seniors who don’t have trusted family members or friends that can help them. And for people with memory loss, financial aptitude is often the first ability that becomes impaired,” Christine says. “As a social worker, I’m able to provide assistance or resources so they can remain in their home or community. Adding the money management program to Iona’s services has been so important.”

Written by Rosie Aquila

Rosie Aquila is Iona’s Communications and Marketing Manager. A graduate of Kenyon College (where she worked as editor for the college’s newspaper), Rosie joined Iona’s team in 2014.