Senior citizens who reside in nursing homes are, unfortunately, often seen as easy prey by unscrupulous caregivers. Because so many victims do not report their abuse, many scams and thefts go unreported. Assisted living facilities do not always properly screen their employees, many of whom are underpaid for the work they do. If you suspect that a parent or relative is being exploited, the nursing home may not do anything about it. Learn the signs of this abuse and what can be done about it. Financial abuse of the elderly takes many forms. Among them are:
- Identity theft, including opening accounts in the victim’s name
- Stock broker fraud and financial adviser misconduct
- Stealing cash, checks, credit and debit cards
- Forging signatures, or obtaining them in deceptive ways
- Accounting or legal malpractice, for instance, improperly designating power of a nursing home abuse attorney to oneself
- Exploiting residents who lack capacity or the ability to consent to financial decisions
- Threatening, manipulating, or intimidating older individuals to turn over property or assets
Anyone can be a victim of fraud, theft, and other types of dishonest conduct. However, residing in a nursing home or similar facility increases the chances that an older person will be abused. These environments often breed social isolation, especially when the victim’s family rarely visits. An elder individual who doesn’t often see anyone may have nobody to turn to if he or she discovers something. Therefore, one way to prevent financial (and other) abuse is to frequently check in with the resident.
Family members should keep an eye out for indications that abuse may be present. These can include sudden or unpredictable changes in mood or behavior. Unexplained financial transactions, such as multiple ATM withdrawals, should also raise a red flag. Missing property, including checkbooks, debit cards, and financial instruments, could be a sign that something is wrong. A victim may refuse to answer questions or discuss suspicious transactions out of fear or embarrassment.
Not all signs of abuse are readily noticeable, however. A dishonest adviser, accountant, or lawyer could convince the victim to execute documents with financial consequences. These can include conveyances of property, modifications to wills, and other changes. Not all of these are discovered until long after the fact. Identity theft can continue for years unnoticed, especially if bank statements or other records are also stolen.
While many financial crimes leave a paper trail, others are hard to trace or prove. A cash withdrawal from a card creates a record, but the cash itself can easily be stolen. The same goes for jewelry, rare coins, artwork, and other hard assets. Missing valuables can quickly change hands or be concealed, and it is usually difficult to recover them.
If you discover wrongdoing, you may wish to privately investigate the matter first. This can start with going directly to the nursing home staff and explaining your concerns. Unfortunately, however, this may only get you so far. Management may not be concerned, or they could even be the ones engaging in the wrongful conduct. The longer it takes to do something, the harder it will be to return whatever has been stolen or mishandled.
Notify an Experienced Georgia Attorney if You Suspect Abuse
Time is of the essence when it comes to stopping and reversing financial abuse of nursing home residents. Reach out to local authorities if you suspect a crime has been or is being committed. But don’t hesitate to seek civil relief for these activities as well. This is where the attorneys at Schneider Hammers can help. We will investigate the abuse and fight to hold the nursing home, employees, and other parties liable. Contact us today.