Nursing Home Financial Exploitation
The placement of a family member or loved one in a nursing home is one of the hardest decisions we will ever make. Discovering that your loved one’s caregivers have taken advantage of them can be financially and emotionally devastating. Outright theft and exploitation can take place within long-term care facilities. If nursing homes are not diligent regarding their hiring process, it can have damaging outcomes due to lax application of appropriate care standards. Nursing home staff can be in a position to take valuable possessions or access resident financial accounts. When that happens, not only may criminal charges be brought against the offender, but the home itself may be held accountable for the crimes that were allowed to occur at the facility.
Unfortunately, nursing home financial exploitation has been on the rise in recent years.
How to Spot Nursing Home Financial Exploitation
The most important thing you can do if you or someone you know is facing this situation is speak up! Upon the first suspicion of theft or financial exploitation you should address the concern with nursing home administration. If you remain silent, those taking advantage of the resident are unlikely to stop until they take everything they can.
Some of the more common forms of nursing home financial exploitation are:
- Stealing the resident’s money or possessions
- Forging the nursing home resident’s signature to cash checks without the resident’s authorization
- Providing “services” which are neither requested nor needed.
- Charging exorbitant fees for services which were or were not actually received.
- Getting the nursing home resident to agree to unsound financial decisions.
The best way to protect your loved one from nursing home financial exploitation is to be ever vigilant. Review all financial transactions carefully. Obtain and keep for your records list of all charges and services received.
Make a List of All Personal Items and Valuables
Additionally, it is important to keep an inventory of all of your loved one’s possessions. Items such as personal jewelry, cash, and any other valuable possessions should be listed. The nursing home is responsible for making sure your loved one and her possessions are kept safe.
Some residents can be influenced to believe that the caregiver is protecting their interests. If you believe an employee at a nursing home is stealing from your family member, the employee and or the nursing home can be held responsible. If you think nursing home staff are stealing from your family member you should notify the facility administrators and contact an attorney.
Signs of financial exploitation may include:
- Using ATM cards and stealing checks to withdraw monies from the victim’s accounts
- Unexplained credit card bills
- Using a Power of Attorney, given by the victim to allow another person to handle his/her finances, as a license to steal the victim’s monies for the perpetrator’s own use
- Reduced balances in bank accounts
Responsible family or the power of attorney should keep a close eye on your loved one’s financial records. He/she needs to review checkbook registers, bank statements, and account information regularly and question anything that is suspect..
Financial exploitation of a nursing home resident can have devastating effects on the resident and their family. Sometimes it results in financial destitution or the inability to replace lost assets. The funds to pay for further long terms needs can be exhausted. Or the loss of a primary residence needed for security.
Interventions to address financial abuse include closing joint bank accounts, removing the victim from the nursing home, or having the victim revoke the power of attorney, if deemed necessary. For additional information regarding financial exploitation of elderly long term care residents, contact attorney Brent Wieand for a free consultation.