Elderly Con Victim: ‘I Didn’t Know an Older Person Needed Protection’ With AM-Guardians of
Elderly Con Victim: ‘I Didn’t Know an Older Person Needed Protection’ With AM-Guardians of Elderly IV Bjt
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Homer Kamar sat on a dinette chair in his tidy high-rise apartment and said he was living in paradise.
Kamar, an 80-year-old retired Army medic, used to live in tattered clothes in a cluttered trailer home where no one cared for him but himself - not very well, by his own admission.
″I hadn’t changed the bed sheets in over six months and the toilet froze up,″ Kamar said.
″I didn’t know an older person needed protection from anything.″
But Kamar did need protection - from a con scheme that drained $14,000 from his bank account on a single day in 1983.
He didn’t want to discuss the details but said he was bilked by two men who showed up at his door, took him to his bank, persuaded him to make two $7,000 withdrawals, then vanished.
He never saw the money again.
″I was a simpleton,″ Kamar said ruefully. ″I didn’t know anything about economic robbery.″
Kamar went to the police, who couldn’t find the thieves. The police referred his case to a social services agency, which then contacted Volunteers Intervening for Equity, an organization of senior citizens who volunteer to help others.
Through VIE, Kamar met G.D. ″Jerry″ Kaufman, the man he now jokingly but affectionately calls ″father.″
″Out of the shadows, out of the darkness, he all of a sudden appeared,″ Kamar said with a grin as he pointed to Kaufman, a 67-year-old former Union Pacific Railroad manager who is Kamar’s court-appointed conservator.
Kaufman is one of 25 VIE volunteers who are conservators for 46 elderly people in Omaha. The conservators, appointed to oversee the protected individuals’ money, are trained in the requirements of state law.
Executive Director Sandra Gaube said VIE does not seek out cases but only acts on referrals, most from the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging, the Nebraska Department of Social Services and nursing homes.
VIE will only take on cases in which the person to be protected agrees to the conservatorship.
″Most cases are generally low-income people who have had a lot of difficulty handling their finances or have had a lot of health problems,″ she said. ″It’s such a relief for them not to have to worry about paying their bills. They know it’s being taken care of.″
At his apartment, Kamar cares for a small spider plant he’s put on a bedside table. There’s a kitchen off the living room where he cooks some of his meals. A stereo phonograph sits in a corner of the living room, where he watches television on a recliner. The dinette table is covered with a bright red-and-white checked tablecloth.
A housekeeper cleans Kamar’s apartment regularly, and Kaufman said he talks to Kamar by phone at least once a week and sees him often.
″The benefits you get out of it are really tremendous,″ Kaufman said. ″You develop kind of an attachment.″
Kamar can’t forget the change in his life.
″I began to feel almost human when I got furniture,″ he said. ″I didn’t have those garage rags for sheets anymore. I thought I’d gone to heaven. I’d never known such happiness.″