Reasons and Methods for Financial Abuse of Residents in Nursing Homes
Nursing home abuse and neglect isn't always what we think. Financial abuse of residents is also abhorrent behavior with similar damaging effects as psychological or sexual abuse. Unfortunately, residents may endure financial abuse in silence, or not even realize it's occurring due to physical or mental illnesses. And unless you control your loved one’s financial records, or watch for signs of this abuse, you may not realize he or she is a victim until it's too late.
What Is Financial Abuse?
Stealing cash, checks—such as Social Security benefits or pension funds—or personal property is one form of financial abuse, but people may also do the following:
- Use someone's credit cards, cash, or checking account without permission
- Engage in identity theft by stealing the resident’s name, date of birth, social security number, or other account information
- Forge the person’s signature on checks, deeds, mortgages, financial investment accounts, or other documents
- Convince the person to sign financial documents
- Abuse a position of power of attorney, guardianship, or conservatorship
- Trick an elderly resident to invest in a pyramid scheme or other investment
Common Perpetrators of Elder Financial Abuse
While any nursing home resident can be the victim of financial abuse, they tend to be people who are isolated, lonely, have mental or physical disabilities, or are grieving over the loss of a loved one. Perpetrators of financial abuse include:
- Caregivers who provide daily care to a resident
- Nurses and doctors
- Other health care providers at the nursing home
- Third-party service and business providers at the facility
- Family members
People who victimize nursing home residents perceive them as easy targets. They engage in these illegal and abusive actions for some of the following reasons:
- Financial difficulties, including gambling addiction
- Alcohol or drug addiction
- An enjoyment of abusing others—some people seek out nursing home jobs because they consider seniors to be vulnerable and easy targets
- A belief a nursing home resident is too frail or incapacitated to take legal action, or will die before legal action is pursued
- A mindset that they have a right to certain property because of potential inheritance
- Negative feelings toward or conflicts with other family members and a desire to prevent them from inheriting from a resident.
In some instances, a nursing home staff member or third-party provider develops an unusually close relationship with a victim to increase his or her dependence. This can provide the perpetrator with more access to the person’s financial assets and records, and enable him to more easily convince the resident to transfer property, money, and control of his finances to him.
Do you suspect that nursing home staff is stealing from your loved one or otherwise engaging in financial abuse? Have you noticed an employee developing an unhealthy interest in him or her? Fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation to learn how Alan Morton can help you identify the perpetrator and stop financial abuse.