Nursing Home Financial Abuse Lawyers
There are many ways that elders can experience abuse in nursing homes. Most people tend to assume that physical abuse and emotional abuse are the only two forms, but elderly individuals are also susceptible nursing home financial abuse.
When you leave your loved one in the care of a nursing home, you expect they will be well cared for. Unfortunately, neglect and abuse in nursing homes are all too common, and financial abuse can be especially upsetting.
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of nursing home financial abuse, you must report the issue and get help right away. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to recover any money or personal assets that were stolen.
At Crossen Law Firm, our Indiana nursing home abuse attorneys understand how devastating it can be to learn your loved one has been experiencing abuse in their nursing home. We are dedicated to helping victims of nursing home abuse and their families get the help they need and ensure the right parties are held accountable.
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of nursing home financial abuse, contact a skilled nursing home abuse lawyer right away at (317) 401-8626.
What is Elder Financial Abuse?
Elder financial abuse is a form of exploitation. Financial abuse can occur to anyone, but it is most prevalent among vulnerable groups, such as elderly individuals. Because older adults are more easily confused, they are often the target of people who seek to take advantage of them. This can happen to them at any time, but it is especially common when they are living in a nursing home.
Nursing home staff spend a lot of time with the residents, which means they can easily learn a lot about them and their financial assets. Staff can also build a rapport with the residents, which means a resident is more likely to trust them. This makes it easy for these individuals to take advantage and gain access to credit cards, bank accounts, wills, and other financial assets.
Residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia are at high risk of being the victims of financial abuse in nursing homes because they can more easily be confused and taken advantage of. This type of abuse is also more common when nursing home residents don’t have a lot of family or when they are often left alone and don’t receive many visits.
Types of Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes
There are many different ways your loved one can be financially exploited in a nursing home. Financial abuse doesn’t just mean that they have had money stolen. Examples and types of financial abuse in nursing homes can include:
- Stealing cash or credit cards
- Asking residents for money
- Stealing valuables and personal property
- Gaining access to bank accounts
- Gaining access to and selling assets or property
- Taking control of power of attorney and making changes to wills
Warning Signs Your Loved One is Being Financially Abused
While physical and even emotional abuse can have more obvious signs, financial abuse in nursing homes can be much harder to detect. As such, it’s not uncommon for financial abuse to go on for years before anyone notices. Unfortunately, the longer financial abuse occurs, the more devastating it can be, resulting in entire accounts being drained and victims losing all of their assets.
That said, there are some things you can look for that may indicate your loved one is the victim of financial abuse. These can include:
- Unpaid bills
- Unexplained foreclosure notices or liens on property
- Unexplained changes in bank accounts
- Unexplained purchases
- New names added to bank accounts or credit cards
- Sudden changes in a will or other estate documents
- Large sums of money being withdrawn
- Personal property and valuables going missing
- Large sums of money or personal property being gifted to nursing home staff
While nursing home financial abuse is often perpetrated by the staff that work in the nursing home, it’s important to note that someone outside of the nursing home could also be taking advantage of your loved one. If the resident has access to a computer, for example, someone could be financially exploiting them through email or over the internet.
Someone could also visit your loved one at the nursing home and pretend to be a friend or family member to take advantage of them. Another warning sign could be unexplained visits from people you don’t recognize or your loved one talking about someone new that you aren’t familiar with.
How to Protect Someone from Elder Financial Abuse
Nursing homes should have systems in place to prevent their residents from being abused in any way, including financial abuse. This includes preventive measures and knowing how to recognize when residents are being abused.
To prevent elder financial abuse, nursing homes should closely monitor residents and their interactions with staff and unknown visitors to ensure they are not being taken advantage of. This should include training staff on how to prevent, identify, and respond to financial abuse situations.
Of course, this doesn’t work if the staff themselves are the ones taking advantage. Still, nursing home management should have a system in place to ensure their employees are behaving ethically and doing their jobs to protect and care for residents. This includes holding regular meetings, conducting case reviews, and implementing a plan of action for when financial abuse occurs.
Part of training staff should include teaching them how to recognize when residents are potentially being financially abused. Again, this can be more challenging as staff should not have access to a resident’s personal financial accounts, but there are other things they can be trained to look for. This can include changes in behavior, a resident acting distraught or agitated after being visited by a certain person or after interacting with a certain staff member. They can also look for signs of valuables in the resident’s room going missing.
Overall, without good management and protocols for handling these kinds of situations, abuse can easily get out of hand.
Steps to Take if You Suspect Nursing Home Financial Abuse
There are also steps you can take to protect your loved one from financial abuse. Though nursing homes have a duty to provide a standard level of care to protect their residents, you cannot guarantee that this will happen. If you suspect your loved one is being financially abused, it may be up to you to take action.
- Record: The first thing you should do if you suspect abuse is document and record as much as you can for evidence. Make a note of any changes to your loved one’s behavior, note if certain staff members seem suspicious or any new visitors your loved one has received, and keep records of all documents that could indicate financial abuse. These include bank statements, changes to estate documents, changes to names on property, etc.
- Report: The next step you should take is to report the issue. You should bring the issue to the attention of the nursing home management, but there are also outside sources you should notify as well to ensure the case is handled properly. This includes filing a report with Adult Protective Services, law enforcement, and your local ombudsman. Every state has an ombudsman program that will appoint an ombudsman to resolve issues in nursing homes related to health, safety, and welfare, which includes dealing with financial abuse matters.
- Get in touch with a lawyer: Finally, after reporting the issue to the appropriate parties, it is beneficial to contact a lawyer. Investigating nursing home abuse is not easy, but a lawyer can help. They can help you gather the evidence needed to prove what happened and protect your rights and the rights of your loved ones to ensure the correct parties are held accountable. A lawyer can also help you file a claim or a lawsuit to recover financial compensation for the losses you or your loved one have experienced as a result of the abuse.
Explore Your Legal Options With an Indianapolis Nursing Home Financial Abuse Lawyer
Discussing your case with an experienced Indiana nursing home abuse lawyer can help you during this trying time. If your loved one is the victim of nursing home financial abuse, we can investigate what happened, ensure your rights and the rights of your loved one are protected, help you file a claim, represent you in court if necessary, and ensure you and your loved one are fairly compensated for your losses.
At Crossen Law Firm, our team of personal injury lawyers will fight tirelessly on your behalf and the behalf of your loved one to help you get what you are owed. You will not owe us anything unless we win your case.