Elderly financial exploitation is an all-too-common problem. In 2012, a MetLife study estimated the annual financial loss from elder financial abuse exceeded $2.9 billion. Most of the time, the elderly are victimized by relatives or predatory financial professionals. Still, plenty of cases occur at the hands of home health aides and nursing home staff.
Elderly financial exploitation often involves wealthy seniors. Anyone with an account at their nursing home, however, should keep a careful eye on their account transactions. Small thefts from these accounts can deplete their funds over time, and often no one notices until the nursing home misses a payment.
Many nursing homes offer to manage funds for their resident. These funds can be used to cover basic bills and nursing home payments. Regulators can review residents’ accounts to look for discrepancies, and relatives may take that initiative as well.
How Did Two Home Health Aides Steal from the Elderly?
Two recent cases demonstrate how easily some health care workers can financially exploit the elderly. In March of 2021, two home health aides faced felony charges of financial exploitation of an elderly person.
One home health aide served as an office coordinator at Transitions Healthcare Capital City in Washington D.C. According to court records, she forged signatures to withdraw funds from residents’ accounts managed by the facility. (Forging signatures is one of the most commonly reported methods of financial exploitation. Caretakers should make sure to watch for discrepancies in signatures, especially on financial documents.) The Department of Justice also alleges she redirected money orders intended for residents into her own account. Between 2018 and 2019, the law enforcement agency alleges she stole $7,421.
Another home health aide has been charged with stealing $8,076 from an elderly man with limited mobility. She allegedly used his debit card to make unauthorized withdraws from ATMs as well as purchases at Target, Mary Kay Cosmetics, and nail salons.
These may sound like small amounts, but they add up. The billions lost to exploitation means more strain on an already overburdened Medicare and Medicaid system – the Nursing Home Abuse Center reports that one in 10 victims of financial exploitation will have to rely on federal programs.
What Are the Signs of Financial Abuse?
Anyone who has concerns about an elderly person’s financial exploitation should keep the signs of abuse in mind. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau cautions that the following could be signs of financial abuse:
- Use of high-pressure tactics to coerce a signature from an elderly person.
- Elderly person’s account frequently has checks made out to “cash.”
- Frequent gifts to facility staff or volunteers.
- Failure to pay care home fees.
- A resident bounces a check and does not know why.
- Nursing home resident starts hiding possessions.
- Resident is missing basics, but their personal account is depleted.
Who Reports Elderly Financial Exploitation?
Federal law requires long-term care facilities that receive government funds to report suspected financial crimes to local law enforcement. These reports must be made within 24 hours of forming the suspicion.
If you have concerns about a relative’s account, you should contact the nursing home administration and alert them of your concerns. Concerned relatives may also want to consult a nursing home abuse attorney. For a free case consultation, contact the attorneys of Fitapelli Kurta, at (877) 238-4175 or email@example.com.