Don’t Ignore These Signs of Nursing Home Financial Abuse
Denver personal injury lawyers who help victims of nursing home abuse and neglect often find that, while families and friends are quick to spot signs of physical, mental, and emotional abuse, they are not always as well-versed on the signs of financial abuse.
Financial abuse is a particular concern for elderly individuals who may no longer have the mental wherewithal to track or manage their own finances. Although they may own considerable assets, they may not have the ability to focus on the details as they once did. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation or abuse by unscrupulous individuals who see the elderly as targets, not human beings.
What is financial abuse?
Financial abuse or exploitation occurs when someone takes the money or property of an elderly person wrongfully or with an intent to defraud the elderly person. Because assets of value take several forms, so does financial abuse. Senior citizens who live in nursing homes may suffer financial abuse from direct caregivers, from the administrators of the nursing home, or both.
What are the signs of financial abuse?
Some common signs of financial abuse include:
- Significant withdrawals from accounts belonging to the elderly person, especially if those withdrawals seem to “vanish” or do not match up to the elderly person’s bills. As in any financial situation, an elderly person’s books should balance.
- Belongings or cash missing from the elderly person’s room. Although valuables like jewelry are among the items most commonly stolen, missing belongings do not have to be valuable to be a sign of abuse or exploitation.
- Unpaid bills and/or substandard care when the family knows or believes the elderly person has the financial means to pay the bills for proper care. Do not rely on bank statements to demonstrate that bills are paid – just because the money was taken out to pay the bills does not mean it reached the correct recipient.
- Unnecessary goods or services. These may include material goods like furniture or vehicles, “intangible” goods like unnecessary insurance policies, or services that the elderly person does not need, including medical services.
- Unusual or exploitative contracts or arrangements. Senior citizens are often targeted for “scams.” Watch for situations in which an elderly person is giving money to a questionable person or cause, or enters a contract that has questionable terms. Trust your instincts when evaluating these arrangements or contracts – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Changes to estate planning documents, especially change that leave a significant amount of money or property to a previously-unmentioned person or organization, such as a particular nursing home employee or the nursing home itself.
- Suspicious signatures that claim to be the elderly person’s signature, especially on documents that create a negative change in the person’s financial situation. The elderly person may have been pressured into signing the document, or someone may have forged the signature.
If you suspect a loved one is being abused or exploited financially, the experienced Denver personal injury lawyers at Levine Law can help you investigate what is happening and seek legal protection and compensation for your loved one. Contact us today to learn more.