Guardian Games

Kathleen Ulsrud may have fleeced dozens of elderly clients. So why is she still in business?

And Taft discovered more financial aberrations. "We started seeing even-dollar-amount checks made payable to hospitals -- $400, $900, $1500 -- amounts you wouldn't expect to see written out to a hospital. It made no sense." Similarly, Taft believes, Ulsrud fraudulently accounted for the checks, wrote them out to cash, and endorsed them.

In February 1998 Taft and Twomey invited the Broward Sheriff's Office, the state attorney, and the Department of Children and Families to help investigate. Ten months later Ulsrud was arrested. The final tally: 277 questionable checks, 39 instances of fudged treatment plans, and 18 elderly people who may have been exploited. "I don't see where this woman would have had time to eat or sleep when she was running around cashing checks and taking checks to all these places," says Taft.

It's unlikely Ulsrud will get work as a professional guardian again. But she's still a member in good standing of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers and is listed as such on the association's Website (www.caremanager.org). Association president Dianne Boazman finds that a little hard to believe. "I can't imagine a Florida care manager didn't report that."

Who's guarding whom? Former professional guardian Kathleen Ulsrud (right) is no friend to the elderly
Miami Herald
Who's guarding whom? Former professional guardian Kathleen Ulsrud (right) is no friend to the elderly

Boazman's organization doesn't require background checks, although it does call for members to have at least a bachelor's degree in gerontology, social work, nursing, or counseling. Ulsrud has a master's degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin.

Indeed, even if she were kicked out of the association, Ulsrud could still call herself a geriatric care manager. And she could still work in a field where trust is everything. "All [care managers] are is basically guardians," says Twomey, "but they are totally unpoliced out there."

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