With the busy lifestyle many individuals maintain, it’s easy to see why nursing homes are so relied upon for seniors who are no longer fully capable of caring for themselves. Unfortunately, because of their need for assistance and care, it’s these individuals who are also more vulnerable and susceptible to unforgivable actions.While the physical abuse of seniors is one of the most disgusting acts a person can perform, financial exploitation of the elderly is just as damaging and often occurs more than any other form of abuse. Learn what financial exploitation of seniors is and how to watch for it below.
Common Forms of Financial Exploitation Your Loved One Might Have Suffered
As a general definition, financial exploitation is when someone either steals, takes, or misuses assets from someone as a means of their own personal benefit. This can occur in a number of ways in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, including matters involving:
- Fraud– This involves the perpetrator acting in a dishonest way when entrusted with the assets of an elderly individual. This can include the unauthorized use of checks.
- Theft – This occurs far too often in nursing homes and involves a caretaker physically stealing money or other items from an elderly resident.
- Electronic – Referred to as phishing, this occurs when someone uses electronic messages to encourage the elderly to enter in sensitive bank information or passwords.
One of the most serious types of financial exploitation involves fraud in which a caretaker utilizes the elderly individual’s bank information, credit cards, or spending assets on their own expenses or for personal gain.
Who Perpetrates the Financial Exploitation of Seniors?
Many people think of the elderly as vulnerable and easy targets. Combine this fact with the reality that an older person might have their life savings tucked away so that they will have enough money to live on or they might receive a monthly pension or Social Security check. An unscrupulous individual or organization might view a senior as a walking piggy bank.
Here are some of the common parties who take advantage of older adults:
- Other people living in the senior’s household might take valuables that belong to the older adult and sell or keep the items for themselves. Household members might use the senior’s checkbook, cash, or credit cards to run errands like buying groceries, and make unauthorized purchases for themselves or keep some of the cash.
- Trusted advisors, like the clergy or a representative of a charitable organization, could manipulate the older adult into making donations they cannot afford to make. Often, these “donations” actually end up in the advisor’s pocket.
- A financial manager a senior hires to handle their investments could embezzle from the senior’s accounts or steer them into making investments with lucrative commissions for the financial manager, even if the investment is not in the older person’s best interest.
- A senior who lives in a nursing home could become a victim of theft or financial exploitation by visitors who come to see the senior or other residents, nursing home employees, and third parties who come to the facility to provide goods or services.
- Con artists who offer “free inspections” of the roof, gutters, foundation, windows, and other parts of the house or yard often tell an older person that there is a significant problem that needs immediate repair to avoid much more expensive work down the road. The older adult gets grossly overcharged and can get tricked into signing financing paperwork with illegal terms.
- Online scammers who get seniors to respond to “phishing” emails that could capture personal and financial information that the perpetrator of the fraud will use to the detriment of the older person.
- People who call the senior on the phone and get them to send money or gift cards to them, claiming that, for example, the older person’s grandchild is traveling in another country and got injured or jailed.
With every passing day, there seems to be yet another scam created to steal money or other assets from older adults.
Signs That an Older Adult Might Be the Victim of Financial Abuse
You might want to investigate what is happening if you see the indications like these:
- An older adult used to go out to eat, go shopping, or engage in other social activities but no longer does so out of fear of not having enough money.
- A senior who used to go to the hairdresser or barber regularly now looks shaggy or unkempt. They resist offers of transportation for haircuts.
- The older person is now wearing clothes that show more wear and tear than previously.
- The senior might appear suspicious or even paranoid about people stealing things.
- A caregiver might prevent the older person from going places or receiving visitors, to keep the senior from telling people about the financial exploitation.
- When you visit the older adult in their home or in their room at the nursing home, you notice that some things have gone missing. The senior might appear confused or claim to have given the items away. People who exploit older adults often trick them into thinking that they have gifted things to their financial abusers.
- The senior appears noticeably more worried about money than in the past.
Essentially, if you notice your loved one’s bank or credit card statements include strange expenses or checks that are unaccounted for, it could be an indicator that they’re the victim of financial exploitation. Even worse is when the caretaker convinces the elderly that they’re using the funds for intended purposes, but instead use the money for something else.
Retain an Attorney That Takes on in Elder Abuse Cases
At Brown & Barron, we take financial elderly abuse very seriously. We work hard to help the elderly and their loved ones seek justice and hold those responsible fully accountable for their actions. It’s important to report financial exploitation as soon as you are convinced it is occurring.
People who financially exploit the elderly usually do not stop until they get caught, or they take everything of value from the older person. It is difficult for law enforcement to obtain convictions in these cases, and much more challenging to get the wrongdoer to return the money and items. So, time is of the essence.
Our nursing home abuse attorneys work hard to protect you and your family every step of the way. Trust that we’ll do whatever it takes to get you through this situation in the most positive manner possible.