Although exact statistics aren’t easy to come by, it’s estimated that about forty percent of nursing home residents experience some type of abuse. Physical abuse is the most obvious type to notice, although financial abuse poses threat to nursing home residents, too.
Financial abuse costs seniors an estimated $2.6 billion every year. Older people typically have more money than younger people, not only in savings, but in the form of real estate, investments, or other assets. As with any other type of abuse in a nursing home, many residents are ashamed or afraid to report the abuse, or simply don’t understand that they have been a victim.
Financial abuse can be as simple as stealing money from the purse or wallet of a nursing home resident, or can involve setaling residents’ possessions, cashing checks without their permission, or forging their signature for financial gain. Subtler, yet no less serious, examples can include coercing a resident to change their will or sign financial documents and the improper use of a power of attorney or guardianship. Staff who interact with residents regularly, and who have more insight into their personal situation and financial affairs, are more likely to carry out this type of abuse.
There are some common signs of financial abuse to look for:
- A resident’s personal belongings missing
- Unexplained withdrawals from their bank account
- Large number of checks being written
- Additional names on financial documents
- Elderly loved one seems ashamed or reluctant to talk about financial issues
- Changes on a will or other important financial documents
Talking to your family member and staff regularly, and simply being aware of what to look for can all help to prevent any abuse.
If you suspect financial abuse, you should address your concerns to the director or person in charge of the nursing home. In all probability, they have no idea that this is happening, and part of their job is to fully-investigate any complaints or concerns from residents or family members.
Suspected abuse can be reported to the home’s doctor, nurse, or social worker, and you should also contact the National Eldercare Abuse Center. If all else fails, you may need the help and advice of a good nursing home abuse lawyer in San Diego who can investigate your case and decide on the appropriate course of action. You may end up moving your loved one to a new facility, a process that can be stressful and time consuming, although your main priority is to identify and stop any abuse.