When people entrust their relatives or loved ones to nursing homes, they want to rest assured that these people will be cared for and treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and some residents in nursing homes are subject to abuse. Abuse, however, is not just limited to physical acts or neglect. Nursing home abuse can extend to include financial abuse, and can have a large impact on the wellbeing of victims of such abuse. In fact, according to the 2011 MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse, it is estimated that, in 2010 alone, victims of elder financial abuse lost as much as $2.9 billion.
What is Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse, which is also known as financial exploitation, occurs when one party improperly or illegally uses another party’s funds, assets, or property. While this form of abuse is not much of a problem for most people, residents of nursing homes are in a unique position, since they may be more vulnerable to deceptive practices. A resident of a nursing home might suffer from any health or cognitive issues that could prevent them from being aware of any financial abuse taking place. Some examples of financial abuse include, but are not limited to:
- forging a resident’s signature
- stealing personal information in order to withdraw the resident’s money
- pressuring the resident to modify a will, deed, or trust
- charging false fees.
While these are some examples of financial abuse, it is clear that in ordinary circumstances, detecting financial abuse can be difficult if you are not aware of the circumstances. Fortunately, there are ways to detect whether a resident of a nursing home is a victim of financial abuse.
Signs of Financial Abuse
The signs of financial abuse can range from subtle to overt, and the presence of one just might be an indicator that there may be other forms of abuse, both financial and otherwise. Signs of financial abuse include:
- frequent withdrawals from bank accounts
- unexplained transfers of money to other people
- abrupt changes in the resident’s legal documents
- a sudden reluctance to talk about financial matters.
Who Commits Financial Abuse?
While you might think that only the staff of the nursing home might be responsible for financial abuse, the truth is that any person who has contact with, or control over, a resident in a nursing home may commit this type of abuse. This includes relatives and family friends who might have access to the resident.
In addition, the nursing home resident might also grant what is known as a power of attorney, which allows an individual to act on behalf of the person granting the power if that person is either incapable of acting or unwilling to act. While a power of attorney can be a beneficial tool, it is vital that you make sure that a power of attorney is granted to someone who is trustworthy, and capable of honestly and competently working with the resident’s finances.
Contact an Attorney
Nobody wants to see their relatives get hurt while under the care of a nursing home. Unfortunately, elder abuse can happen to anyone at any time. If you or someone you know is affected by nursing home abuse in Charleston, North Charleston or Walterboro, call a dedicated, experienced nursing home abuse attorney at David Aylor Law Offices for a free consultation