Elder financial abuse costs seniors roughly $36.5 billion dollars a year. Financial abuse of seniors in nursing homes can include theft of personal property, forced withdrawals and deposits of funds, or the coerced transfer of titles and deeds to nursing home staff.
Common Forms of Financial Abuse
Theft of Personal Property – Jewelry, artwork, electronics, and other valuable personal possessions is a common form of nursing home abuse as small possessions are easily stolen from nursing home facilities.
Trust Fund Theft – Long-term care providers who manage resident’s trust funds can easily embezzle funds from these accounts. In 2013, regulators uncovered more than 1,500 cases of trust fund theft in nursing homes across the country.
Prescription Drug Fraud and Theft – It is fraud to charge residents for a name brand medication and then deliver another, often generic or counterfeit drug in its place. Nursing facilities that do this then pocket the difference. Another form of fraud involves pilfering small, often unnoticeable quantities of a patient’s prescription such as opioids and then reselling these “on the street.”
Account Fraud – A caregiver in a nursing home may coerce an elderly resident to add them on to their personal financial accounts including bank accounts, brokerage accounts, etc. This caregiver then proceeds to drain these accounts.
Inclusion in the Will – Caregivers may coerce or threaten elderly residents to include the caregiver within the resident’s will. Often, these inclusions are not discovered until after the resident has passed away.
Protecting Loved Ones From Elder Financial Abuse
Vigilance is crucial in protecting a loved one’s finances from theft or misappropriation. Regular audits of an individual’s spending, investments, and physical possessions can help ensure that the resident’s assets are not stolen or misused.
Preventing elder financial abuse depends on limiting access to all accounts, installing alarm systems at personal residences, limiting the amount of valuable property taken with the resident into the nursing home, and monthly monitoring of financial statement. These are the most effective methods of keeping a loved one’s finances safe and secure.
Family members and friends should contact a Chicago nursing home abuse attorney as soon as elder financial abuse is suspected. Early action can help protect the individual’s physical assets and financial accounts. Taking immediate action can help preserve evidence that can be used to show the extent of the theft and the impact it has had on the individual’s finances.