Trust is at the center of many resident/nursing home relationships. This trust can make it hard for residents and their families to believe nursing home staff would abuse their power. The sad truth is: nursing home abuse towards residents can show up in many different ways, including physical, emotional, mental, or through financial wrongdoings, often leaving families worrisome and anxious about the possibility of a loved one being injured, ignored, left without proper medical care, or taken advantage of.
The Associated Press recently highlighted the issue of elder financial abuse in a January 29, 2018 story. The news organization reported that a former nursing home supervisor in West Virginia had been sentenced to one year and one month in federal prison for embezzlement, after admitting to diverting residents’ payment checks into a bank account dedicated for nursing home expenses. Once the deposit was made, the employee would write checks to herself and forge signatures to make the checks usable. A federal court in Charleston found the thirty-five-year-old woman guilty of mail fraud and ordered her to pay more than $81,000 in restitution.
Examples of Elder Financial Abuse
The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse estimates that elder financial abuse may cost victims roughly $3 billion each year, creating serious and widespread legal issues for families and nursing homes across the country. These financial abuse occurrences can appear in many forms.
- Cashing a resident’s checks without permission or authorization
- Coercing a resident to sign documents, such as checks, contracts or wills
- Improper use of guardianship, conservatorship, or power of attorney
- Financial exploitation
- Forging a resident’s signature
- Stealing a resident’s money, or their possessions for financial gain
Stories like the West Virginia case are maddening reminders that anyone involved in nursing home care can be dishonest and abuse their power. It may be up to families or other staff members to help identify any signs that may lead to a serious abuse issue.
Identify the Signs of Elder Financial Abuse
Financial abuse may occur with a distinct warning sign, or without any red flag at all. Sudden and unexplained checks and disappearance of personal items are among the most telltale financial abuse warning signs, but families, friends, and caregivers should be alert and aware of ANY suspicious changes that may indicate elder financial abuse. There are several signs to watch for, including:
- Transfer and withdrawal of money or assets to another individual
- Changes in the elder’s will, financial documents, or banking methods
- Timely payments written out to specific individuals
- New or additional names on the elder’s bank signature card
- Reports of a change in the elder’s signature
- Resident complaints of misplaced or missing personal items
- Fear to talk about financial concerns, documents or issues
In most cases when a nursing home employee has abused their position, or acts negligently, the facility itself may bear some responsibility.
Skilled Attorneys Can Speak for Abused Residents
Levin & Perconti has become one of the most widely-known and respected nursing home abuse and neglect law firms in Illinois, achieving multiple million dollar verdicts and settlements. Our experiences have helped us empathize with the families of nursing home abuse victims and help them move forward once trust has been broken.
If a loved one has been financially exploited by the staff in their nursing home, they may be entitled to compensation. In Illinois, there is a time limit to file a case like this, so please contact us now for a free consultation with one of our skilled nursing home attorneys.