When you think of nursing home abuse, physical abuse is usually the first thing to come to mind. However, many are unaware that stealing money is a form of elderly abuse and can happen to a loved one who is in a nursing home. Earlier this month, three women were arrested for theft, fraud and stealing money from an elderly woman in a Nashville nursing home.
The victim, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and her husband, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor, both trusted their care to the nursing home they resided in. A nursing home employee took advantage of that trust when she stole the couple’s shared checkbook, the woman’s ID and her Social Security card. The nursing home employee and her two sisters cashed more than $10,000 in checks.
The worst part is, according to the executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Aging, this type of horrible situation happens all the time.
Why are Elderly Residents Targeted for Financial Scams or Theft?
Unfortunately, seniors are more vulnerable than most when it comes to exploitation for their money, assets or property. Signatures may be forged, wills forcibly changed or the victim may be tricked into signing documents without fully knowing what they are signing, or why. Disturbingly, abusers are typically family members, hired contractors and nursing home employees.
Worse still, senior residents are often unaware when the elderly abuse is occurring. Though, if they are aware, many victims can be embarrassed and reluctant to tell their loved ones or report it to the proper authorities. As a result, many financial abuses go largely unreported.
How Can I Protect My Loved One From Nursing Home Abuse?
While Tennessee lawmakers created an Elder Abuse Task Force to help protect the aging population, there are still red flags that you can look for if your loved one is a resident at a nursing home, such as:
- Unpaid bills
- Large withdrawals or transfers from bank accounts
- Bank statements that are missing
- A change in people your elderly loved one puts their trust in
- Belongings go missing
- A lack of documentation detailing financial arrangements
- Suspicious-looking signatures
- A lack of memory or awareness of financial arrangements made
Seniors who are particularly isolated or suffer from mental or physical disabilities are particularly susceptible to this form of elderly abuse. If you suspect your loved one is being exploited for financial purposes or is suffering any form of nursing home abuse, it is important to contact an attorney immediately to assess your rights.
“Even to your old age, I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you.” Isaiah 46:4