You like to think that your loved one is safe and being well-cared-for in their nursing home. Unfortunately, elder abuse in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities is extremely common. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that one in six people over the age of 60 experienced some type of elder abuse. Even more shocking, perhaps, is that two out of three staff members report having committed abuse in the past year.
There are different kinds of abuse, including physical, sexual, and emotional. Financial abuse in nursing homes is also a major problem, as it can be difficult for family members to recognize that it is happening.
Caregivers and other nursing home staff also have easy access to the personal items of the elderly residents, and items can easily be removed from residents’ rooms without them even noticing. Elderly residents are also more likely to be taken advantage of and coerced into making changes to wills and bank accounts. This can have long-term consequences for the resident’s and their family’s financial health.
Understanding Financial Abuse
Financial abuse in a nursing home occurs when the resident’s money or personal belongings are taken from them. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), it could include actions like taking valuables from their room, forging checks, taking their retirement income, or using their bank accounts or credit cards.
Financial theft can also include actions that have many further-reaching consequences, such as changing the names on bank accounts, wills, life insurance policies, or even the title to the elderly adult’s home.
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Signs Your Loved One Is Financially Abused in Their Nursing Home
According to NIA, financial abuse is a widespread problem that can be difficult to detect. However, there are some signs that your loved one is experiencing financial abuse, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
One of the signs that your loved one is being financially abused is if they do not recall important financial matters, particularly if they were usually aware of these things in the past. For example, if you see that your loved one’s name is on a withdrawal slip from the bank, but they do not recall taking money out of the bank or ATM, there is a cause for concern.
While their inability to remember this detail could simply be the result of diminished mental capacity resulting from age, it is also possible that someone else obtained access to the account and helped themselves to money.
Some other signs of financial abuse in nursing homes are:
- Unusual changes in spending behavior
- Loans that the elderly adult cannot explain
- Fear and anxiety when finances are bought up
- Assets that disappear unexplainably, such as cash, securities, and valuables
- Giving financial control to someone new without warning
Guarding Against Financial Abuse
There are some steps, according to the AARP, to reduce the likelihood of financial abuse. One step is to continually monitor your loved one’s bank accounts and credit cards on an ongoing basis. This will help you quickly notice if there is an unexplained change in their behavior, allowing you to rapidly address it with them.
Some other things you can do are:
- Monitor direct deposits for checks and automatic bill paying systems.
- Ask the banks to monitor the accounts for any activity that is unusual.
- Visit your loved one regularly to develop a strong rapport with them, so they are more inclined to be open about financial abuse.
- Watch their behavior closely to ensure caregivers are not isolating them to target them for financial abuse.
What to Do If You Suspect Financial Abuse
If you suspect that a nursing home is financially abusing your loved one, the first thing you should do is speak to them privately. They may or may not be aware of the problem, but they also could give you rational explanations for changes in spending habits, for example. It is important to have all the facts before you take your suspicions further.
Next, talk to the administrators of the nursing home. They may already have their suspicions and could potentially help you uncover the responsible party.
You may also want to consider consulting with a lawyer who has experience working on nursing home abuse cases. They know the evidence to look for and can help you build a strong case while you focus on your loved one and family.
For a free, no-risk review of your case, call Ben Crump Law, PLLC at (800) 959-1444.