It is normal to worry about putting your loved one in a nursing home. The good news is that most of the people working in long-term care facilities and nursing homes want to support aging individuals. They treat them with dignity and respect.
Those who overtly abuse and neglect residents are often subject not only to termination from their jobs but also to criminal prosecution. Unfortunately, some of the people who target older adults are more subtle than others. They may engage in financial abuse instead of physical abuse. In other words, they seek to capitalize on their role as caregiver by stealing from or manipulating your loved one for their own financial gain.
Watching out for the three forms of financial abuse listed below can help keep your loved one a little bit safer.
- The most obvious form of financial abuse is outright theft
Your loved one may not be able to stand up for themselves when someone comes into the room and takes a card out of their checkbook, cash out of their dresser or valuables out of their purse. Other times, they may not witness the theft but will return to the room to discover items missing.
Some workers will steal money, property and even credit cards from residents for their own gain. In the case of credit card theft, it is not uncommon for them to return the card after making a few purchases in the hope that no one will notice. Others will convince an older adult to write them a check and then change the amount of the check in acts of blatant fraud.
- They might be coercive and manipulative
Some people won’t steal. Instead, they will engage in a mafia-like extortion racket. Residents that give them large tips or other valuable property may receive quicker responses to their calls for help, better food or better care and treatment. Other times, staff members will blatantly mistreat those who withhold assets and tips. Residents should not have a requirement to pay a forced gratuity to someone doing the basic function of their job.
- They might try to influence someone’s estate plan inappropriately
The most subtle form of financial abuse has a focus on long-term results, not short-term gains. Some caretakers will intentionally ingratiate themselves with residents that have substantial assets. They may tell stories about how tragic their own life was, often exaggerating their circumstances or blatantly lying. They will do their best to gain sympathy with residents in the hope of pressuring them into changing their estate plan for their own benefit.
Paying close attention to your loved one’s property and finances, as well as talking to them regularly about their daily life and the relationship that they have with the people working at the nursing home, can help you spot early warning signs of financial abuse and other ways that staff might mistreat your loved one.