Is Financial Exploitation a Problem in Nursing Homes?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Tyler D. Bailey, Esq. with Bailey Law Firm, L.L.C..
If you reside in or have a loved one residing in a nursing home, it’s important to be on the lookout for any signs indicating abuse or neglect might be at play. Unfortunately, due to problems like understaffing and burnout, it is not uncommon for residents’ care and wellbeing to fall by the wayside. However, another less-discussed but equally prominent risk in nursing homes is financial abuse or exploitation. In fact, according to the Nursing Home Abuse Center, financial exploitation is the most common type of elder abuse, with estimates reaching nearly $3 billion in money exploited from older Americans each year.
Financial exploitation may be hard to recognize if you don’t know what to look for.
The following are common examples of financial exploitation that a nursing home resident may not notice right away or without the help of a loved one outside the facility:
- Forging resident signatures
- Tricking or coercing residents into signing legal or financial documents
- Cashing a resident’s check and taking all or part of the money
- Using technology to scam or trick elderly residents
- Misusing power of attorney or caregiver status
It’s important for family members to help keep an eye on their loved one’s finances inside a nursing home. If money seems to be inexplicably disappearing, this could indicate your loved one is being financially exploited, whether they know it or not. However, another common cause of financial exploitation occurs when a family member or caregiver misuses power of attorney; this type of financial abuse may occur in a nursing home or even a home-care environment with family members.
According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center, red flags that could indicate financial abuse include the following:
- Complaints of theft or not having enough money
- Unpaid bills
- Inconsistencies with financial accounts
- Missing checks, credit cards, or billing statements
- “Gifts” being given suddenly or frequently to nursing home staff
- Changes in behavior, particularly hoarding or hiding possessions
- Lack of personal items, such as those used for basic care and even medication
- Agitation around a particular staff member
If any of the above red flags show up, it’s important to do some investigating into your loved one’s finances. Talk to the nursing home administration to determine if they have any suspicions of their own. If this does not yield any results, or your concerns are not quickly and satisfactorily explained, the next step is to talk to a nursing home abuse attorney. Nursing home abuse attorneys know exactly what type of evidence to look for in financial exploitation cases and can conduct a swift and thorough investigation to determine how the money is disappearing, who is liable, as well as what kind of financial recovery can be made.
To learn more about financial exploitation in nursing homes, or for help investigating, reach out to a nursing home abuse attorney sooner rather than later.