From March 2013 to August 2018, there were 116 confirmed reports of theft in Minnesota assisted living homes. Of those cases, 104 reported the specific amount of money stolen. The researcher determined that an average of $1,130 was stolen from each victim who reported a theft during the five-year period.
However, these numbers “are likely a fraction of the financial exploitation of seniors and vulnerable adults happening in Minnesota,” according to Pioneer Press. The Pioneer Press interviewed the Steven’s Square Foundation for Elder Voice Family Advocates founder and the Elder Justice Minnesota policy director for their report on this story. They shared the beliefs that many incidents of nursing home theft go unreported: The article stated, “National data shows for every reported instance of abuse, neglect, theft, or other offense when a senior is victimized there are roughly 24 other offenses in the community when elders are the victims that are not reported.”
Addressing the Issue
Minnesota is currently the only state that does not require the licensing of elder care facilities. This will change once new legislation takes effect in 2021. Minnesota will also increase regulations in care centers, including the addition of a resident bill of rights.
Nursing home patients have been permitted to install cameras in their rooms to identify thieves and abusers, but with the new laws, this practice will become more regulated as well. Residents must tell facility management if they are installing a camera; supporters hope the legislation will help prevent mistreatment of seniors.
Identifying Financial Abuse of the Elderly
Financial exploitation in nursing homes typically involves stealing cash, jewelry, or credit cards from residents’ rooms, but can also involve incidences of coercion in which a senior is tricked or forced to sign away assets or guardianship rights. Facility staff and visiting family members are common perpetrators of these crimes.
Signs of financial abuse may include:
- Unawareness of financial status
- Changes to a will
- New authorized users on credit cards
- Checks written to suspicious parties
- Unexplained withdrawals
- A sudden inability to pay expenses
Any questionable changes to a nursing home patient’s finances should be a cause for concern. If you observe any unusual activity from an elderly loved one and believe they are a victim of any form of abuse or neglect, contact Brown & Barron, LLC.