- Posted June 11, 2013 by
Interview with Carolyn A. Brent: A Caregiver’s Story
I had the opportunity to interview Carolyn A. Brent who is the founder of the nonprofit organization A Caregiver’s Story and Grandpa’s Dream. She is an activist and advocate for caregivers. Brent has proposed a bill in the California state legislature and hopes to see it on the 2013 ballot.
Carolyn A. Brent gave a presentation to the California State Assembly in February about raising the penalties for vexatious litigation. She recently shared how her own battles as a caregiver have pushed her to help others in the same role.
“For 12 years, I took care of my father, a veteran who earned a Purple Heart, as he suffered from dementia, and my siblings refused to help,” stated Brent. She was the sole caregiver for her father and moved him into her home. After his dementia became more serious, and he was found wandering the streets 170 miles away from her house, she was forced to move him into a care home. Brent paid an additional $6,500 a month out of her own pocket for his private assisting living facility because the $1,500 he received in benefits from the government was not enough. She worked full-time in the sales division of the pharmaceutical industry to support him.
Carolyn A. Brent stated her nightmare began after her father had an emergency and ended up in the hospital. “My siblings thought my father was going to die. They took me to probate court and accused me of neglecting him. One of my family members filed a restraining order, and I was investigated by both the state and federal government. They wrongly believed my father had money, but I had been paying for all of his expenses,” mentioned Brent.
Brent became the victim of vexatious litigation as her family dragged her through different jurisdictions just to drop the charges as soon as she made a court appearance. Her sister actually forced Carolyn’s niece to give her one of the restraining orders outside of the courtroom. Brent was wrongly accused of abuse and neglect. The restraining order prevented her from seeing her father as his condition deteriorated. “To this day, I still don’t know where he is buried. I only know he died because someone called me. My sister ended up putting him in a state institution because she couldn’t afford the private facilities,” said Brent.
Carolyn A. Brent is advocating for a change that would make vexatious litigation less appealing to family members and others. Currently, it is a misdemeanor, but she would like it to become a felony. Since 2008, she has been pushing for this change while helping caregivers. She has supported her nonprofit organization with her own money and has spent $100,000. She hopes she can partner with others in the future and find more funding to advocate for this important cause. Brent would like to prevent other caregivers from becoming victims of this type of abuse.