People in nursing homes aren’t just at risk of physical, emotional and sexual abuse by staff and other residents. They can also become the victims of financial abuse (also known as financial exploitation). From outright stealing to persuading someone to sign over powers of attorney to them, people, sadly, sometimes take advantage of vulnerable seniors.
If you have a family member in a nursing home or other care facility, it’s important to watch for red flags that they may be a victim. These include things like the following:
- Your loved one tells you their money or property is being stolen. Don’t simply ignore these statements because they have cognitive impairment. If they’re missing cash, a checkbook, documents, jewelry or other items, look for them.
- Your loved one becomes upset or their mood otherwise changes for the worse when a particular staff member or resident is around. This could be an indication of any type of abuse.
- Your loved one begins hiding their valuables or other items they used to keep out.
- You notice things missing, and your loved one doesn’t know what happened to them.
- Your loved ones’ medications are missing or seem to be used up faster than they should be.
- A staff member or other resident won’t let you be alone with your loved one.
- Your loved one makes changes to their estate plan documents that give assets or authority to someone you don’t know.
These are warning signs that anyone with an elderly loved one should watch out for, whether they’re in a nursing home, assisted living facility or their own home. If your loved one has their own checking account and/or credit cards, it may be wise to take steps to be a joint owner so that you can keep an eye on the account activity.
If you believe that someone is being financially exploited by nursing home staff or other residents, it’s imperative that you notify the management immediately. If the problem isn’t resolved, it may be wise to contact an attorney to find out what legal options you have.