Why Financial Abuse in Missouri Nursing Homes is Devastating
When you hear about elder abuse or nursing home abuse and neglect, your first thought is probably physical abuse, emotional abuse, or sexual abuse of a resident by a caretaker. And that is for good reason, because these are some of the most commonly reported types of abuse. But is stealing from a nursing home resident also considered abuse? Is there such as thing as financial abuse?What if I told you elder financial abuse and fraud is a national problem that costs senior citizens over $2.9 billion annually? What is I also told you that only one in 44 cases of financial abuse are ever reported? Suddenly this probably sounds like a much larger problem—because it is.
While financial abuse or exploitation doesn’t get the headlines that physical abuse does, it can also be just as crippling as physical abuse. Many nursing home residents rely on the saved money they have left and their limited income they may receive to cover medical expenses and medications out-of-pocket. Residents also use these funds to pay the nursing home’s high monthly fees. Yet, in some instances nursing home staff members have found a way to access the financial accounts of those they are supposed to be caring for and essentially robbing them of their hard-earned savings. To be clear, this is not just a problem in Missouri’s nursing homes; elderly people who are not in nursing homes also fall victim to financial exploitation making it all the more important to regularly assist your elderly loved ones with their finances as well as their physical needs.
What is Financial Abuse and Financial Exploitation in a Missouri Nursing Home?
Financial abuse or exploitation of a senior citizen is when one person improperly or unlawfully uses another individual’s funds, assets, property, money, stocks, or anything of value without permission, consent, or authority of law to do so. The underlying intent is larcenous, meaning that the offender is intending to take something from the senior citizen and make it the offender’s asset. This is also known as conversion, that the offender is intending to take something from the victim and convert it for his or her own uses. Common examples of financial abuse in a nursing home include the following:
- Taking money from a resident’s wallet, room, or purse;
- Stealing a resident’s possessions, to either use or to sell it;
- Cashing a resident’s checks for the offender’s personal use;
- Transferring money from the resident to the offender;
- Tricking or coercing a resident to give assets away, such as stocks, possessions, or money;
- Tricking or coercing a resident to sign a contract or Last Will that benefits the offender; and
- Putting expenses on the resident’s account that are the offender’s personal expenses.
Essentially any time an individual takes or uses anything from a resident without the resident’s consent or without authority of law (i.e., a power of attorney or agreement), it may be financial abuse or financial exploitation.
Who Commonly Commit Financial Abuse in a Nursing Home?
Anyone who has access to a resident’s assets or finances could commit financial abuse or financial exploitation of a senior citizen. This is particularly true if the resident is ill, has cognitive problems, is recovering from surgery or a procedure, or is unable to manage his or her own finances. Residents who do not have much involvement from family or friends are more likely to be the ones who are targeted, as thieves may realize that there is no one “checking” what is going on with the resident’s financial affairs.
The most common people who commit financial abuse against a nursing home resident include the following:
- Nursing home staff members;
- Contractors or repair workers in a nursing home;
- Guests of other residents, A resident’s own guests who see an opportunity for easy money;
- Other residents, particularly residents who are not cognitively impaired; and
- Even family members of the resident who may be trying to take financial advantage of the situation, such as changing a Last Will to ensure they get a larger share.
Victims of Financial Abuse or Financial Exploitation in a Missouri Nursing Home Have Rights to Protect
All types of abuse against elderly senior citizens is deplorable and even more so when it happens in a nursing home that is supposed to provide a safe environment for their residents. Financial abuse is not a “victimless crime,” because it affects the very foundation that the resident’s care is built on. When financial abuse happens in a nursing home it highlights other possible problems in the nursing home, such as possible problems with physical abuse and neglect of residents. Anytime a resident of a nursing home or a family member suspects that financial abuse is occurring, contact an experienced St. Louis nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer to review the bigger picture and investigate what is happening. Sometimes the financial abuse is not the only problem at that facility. Call the Terry Law Firm to schedule a FREE consultation to learn how we can help you today by dialing (314) 334-1441.