'Star Trek' Star Nichelle Nichols Diagnosed with Dementia. Accusations of Senior Abuse.

According to reports, like so many others on Earth, Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols has dementia. Now there are accusations of senior abuse.

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'Star Trek' Star Nichelle Nichols Diagnosed with Dementia. Accusations of Senior Abuse.
3 Min Read August 29th, 2018 Updated:August 16th, 2021

According to reports, like so many aging Americans on the planet Earth, "Star Trek's" Nichelle Nichols has been diagnosed with dementia. 

Her conservatorship documents obtained by the website TMZ say she has significant impairment in short-term memory and moderate impairment when it comes to abstract concepts, time, place, and recall. 

In 2015, she suffered a mild stroke while at home. Often a stroke can lead to mild to progressive cognitive impairment. Dementia usually requires supervision and long-term care services and supports.

The 88-year-old was America's first black woman to star in a primetime show after being cast in 1966 as Nyota Uhura on Star Trek. Media reports say she was diagnosed with dementia officially in 2018.

Now legal papers file with the Los Angeles district of the Superior Court of California describe allegations of sustained elder abuse. 

Nichols began her show business career at age 16 as a singer with Duke Ellington in a ballet she created for one of his compositions and later sang with his band. After switching to acting, she was nominated twice for the Sarah Siddons Award for best actress in "The Blacks" and "Kicks and Company." Her film debut found her dancing with Sammy Davis Jr. in Porgy and Bess (1959). A guest appearance on The Lieutenant (1963) led to an offer from Gene Roddenberry to join the cast of Star Trek (1966). Her best-known role on the series is communications officer Lieutenant Nyota Uhura. She later repeated her role in a string of successful Star Trek films.

Sustained Elder Abuse

Her former manager Gilbert Bell, who spent about a decade living in a guest house on her Woodland Hills, California, is being accused of exploiting her. Her son, Kyle Johnson, has filed for conservatorship of his mother because her health has made her a prime target for senior exploitation.

Unfortunately, those living with dementia are at a higher risk of financial exploitation since it is easier for family members, close friends, caregivers, and even financial advisors to manipulate them or trick them into giving up assets and other valuables. Many of these people are paying for care out of savings or have friends or family provide caregiving services.

Health insurance, including Medicare and supplements, will not pay for most long-term health care. Medicaid will pay for long-term care services but only if the person has little or no income or assets. Long-Term Care Insurance will also pay for care, but you must purchase a policy when you are younger and enjoy reasonably good health.  

Dementia - A Huge Worldwide Problem

Worldwide, around 50 million people have dementia. Every year, there are nearly 10 million new cases. In the United States, one in three seniors dies with some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This is more than both breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. The result is billions in caregiving costs and impact on families and their assets.

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An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

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