Elderly financial abuse occurs when someone improperly or illegally uses an elderly person’s money, property or assets.
The media does not cover a lot of stories about financial abuse of the elderly, but it is a widespread problem, costing victims approximately $2.6 billion each year, according to a 2009 study from the MetLife Mature Market Institute and National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.
Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse because they often have cognitive problems and are dependent on others to make decisions for them.
Residents may not monitor their bank accounts and other assets on a regular basis or at all. This can allow an abuser to steal or misuse the resident’s money or assets for a significant amount of time before the resident realizes or understands what is happening.
That is why family members and friends are often the ones who discover their elderly loved one is suffering financial abuse or exploitation at the nursing home.
If your loved one has been a victim of financial abuse, our Savannah nursing home negligence lawyers may be able to help. Contact our firm today.
TYPES OF NURSING HOME FINANCIAL ABUSE
Some of the most common forms of financial abuse of nursing home residents include:
- Forging the resident’s signature
- Stealing or misusing money, possessions or other assets
- Coercing or deceiving a resident into signing documents, including contracts or wills
- Improperly using conservatorship powers or powers of attorney
- Cashing a resident’s checks without permission or authorization
- Misusing money that is designated to pay bills or other financial obligations
- Using credit cards or credit information to set up accounts
PERPETRATORS OF ELDER FINANCIAL ABUSE AT NURSING HOMES
Anyone who comes into contact with a nursing home resident or has control over them can commit financial abuse. However, financial abusers are often people who have close relationships with residents, including:
- Other service and business professionals at the facility
- Family members
Family members, friends and colleagues are more likely to commit power of attorney abuse because they are often the ones who hold power of attorney.
Power of attorney is a written authorization for someone to act on another’s behalf if that person is incapable or unwilling to do so. This position makes it very easy to abuse that person’s finances. That is why residents’ families need to make sure the person who holds power of attorney is honest and can be trusted to responsibly manage the resident’s finances.
HOW TO SPOT FINANCIAL ABUSE
There are several tell-tale signs of financial abuse of a nursing home resident, such as:
- Unexplained transfer of money or assets to another individual
- Sudden changes in the resident’s will
- The resident begins living well beyond his or her means
- Checks are frequently written to a particular financial professional or caregiver
- Unexpected withdrawals from a bank account
- The resident is missing personal belongings
- The resident is reluctant to talk about routine financial issues
- The resident’s bank signature card contains additional names
HOW TO PREVENT NURSING HOME FINANCIAL ABUSE
There are several steps you can take to ensure your elderly loved one’s assets are not stolen or abused:
- Include several people in major financial decisions to help ensure one individual does not try to take advantage
- Check references before hiring caregivers
- Use automatic bill pay
- Communicate with banks and other financial institutions and ask about suspicious financial activity
- Avoid hiring caregivers who attempt to constantly isolate your loved one
One of your loved one’s rights as a nursing home resident is to live free from any form of abuse or neglect, including financial abuse.
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused financially, you may have legal options. Contact our personal injury lawyers in Savannah for more information.
We can help put a stop to the abuse and hold the perpetrators accountable. We may also be able to obtain compensation to help you recoup your loved one’s financial losses.
Call 855-856-4212 or Live Chat with a representative.