What to Know About Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes - Mazow | McCullough, PC
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What to Know About Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes

Nursing home abuse is an unfortunate reality for more than 5 million American seniors every year, according to a recent report from the National Council on Aging. But this isn’t always physical or even emotional abuse.

The World Health Organization suggests that the rate of financial abuse is three times more prevalent than physical abuse, six times more prevalent than sexual abuse, and one-third more prevalent than neglect. Here’s what to know about financial abuse in nursing homes and what you can do to protect your loved one.

What is Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse occurs when a nursing home staff member takes something of value from a patient by any means. This includes but isn’t limited to things like:

  • Physically taking items from a patient’s room
  • Taking money or credit cards from a patient’s wallet
  • Copying credit card numbers to make online purchases
  • Convincing a resident to sign a check made out to the staff member
  • Changing names on bank accounts, life insurance policies, or legal documents

How and Why Does Financial Abuse Happen?

Bad actors often take advantage of the declining mental health of nursing home patients. They assume it’s easier to steal from elderly people with health problems who may not remember or be able to communicate what happened.

Some patients also don’t have family who come to visit, which further decreases the chances staff members will be spotted engaging in unethical behavior. Unfortunately, many thieves get away with financial abuse in nursing homes for those exact reasons.

Signs Your Loved One May Be a Victim

It’s important to be aware that financial abuse occurs often in nursing homes and recognize that there’s a possibility it could happen to your loved one. Here are some signs to be on the lookout for:

  • You find that money or cards are missing from your family member’s belongings
  • You discover that your loved one has changed the beneficiary on their will or life insurance policy
  • Your loved one is missing jewelry, their watch, or other valuables that can easily be sold or pawned for cash
  • Your loved one is getting bills for credit cards or loans in the mail that they can’t explain or don’t remember taking out
  • You see unexplained charges on your family member’s bank or credit card statements
  • Your loved one seems anxious, upset, or confused when asked questions about their finances or missing belongings

If this happens, remind your loved one that they aren’t to blame for being stolen from and reassure them that you’re there to help. Financial abuse can be difficult for patients to come to terms with mentally and emotionally, so it may be a good idea to look into counseling or other types of support.

Ways to Protect Against Financial Abuse

If you haven’t yet taken steps to protect your loved one from financial abuse, now is a great time to get started. Here are some things you can do:

  • Visit your family member often. Thieves are less likely to target residents who frequently have outside visitors.
  • Check their bank account. Make a habit of checking for strange activity or transactions you don’t recognize, so you can act quickly if there’s ever a problem.
  • Pay attention to their behavior. If your elderly family member starts acting out of the ordinary, especially in regards to money or finances, this can be a good indicator something is wrong.
  • Keep an inventory of their belongings. Note things that you bring or take away and check their room often to see if anything is missing.
  • Get power of attorney. If you have power of attorney, your loved one can’t make changes to their will or other important documents without you. This means staff members can’t manipulate your loved one into signing away money or benefits.

How and When to Get Legal Help for a Nursing Home Abuse Case

If you suspect your elderly family member has been financially abused in a nursing home, don’t wait to get the legal assistance you need. A qualified nursing home abuse attorney can help your family protect your loved one and hold thieves and negligent long-term care facilities responsible.

Contact Mazow | McCullough, PC today for more information about different types of nursing home abuse and what you can do to help your loved one. We’re standing by now to answer your important questions at (978) 744-8000 or toll-free at (855) 693-9084.

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