According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the most common form of elder abuse is financial exploitation. Financial exploitation is also known as financial abuse and includes the fraudulent, unlawful, or improper use of someone’s assets for financial gain. These assets can include benefits, property, or money.
The consensus study Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America asserted that elder financial exploitation could be extremely damaging to the victims since this crime is often committed by caregivers, friends, and even relatives. Unfortunately, this type of exploitation occurs much more often than reported. For example, the SEC cited a study that revealed that around 44% of other cases go unreported for every case of financial abuse.
If your loved one is in a nursing home and you believe they have been a victim of financial exploitation or other types of abuse, get help from a Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyer. Financial abuse can happen to elderly individuals who live at home or nursing home facilities. Relatives of nursing home residents should be aware of the risk factors of financial exploitation to protect their loved ones.
Financial Abuse and Senior Citizens
Some of the reasons a family member may require round-the-clock care are also why these individuals could be at risk for financial abuse. One of the main risk factors is cognitive decline. Other chronic mental or physical conditions can make elderly individuals extremely dependent on the medical staff members providing care for them. The National Center on Law & Elder Rights states that 50% of people with dementia will encounter some form of abuse or mistreatment in a nursing home.
Senior adults may also be targets for financial exploitation due to the retirement benefits and other assets they earned over their lifetimes. Another major risk factor for financial exploitation is isolation. When older individuals don’t have much interaction with friends and family, they are more likely to be exploited by caregivers.
Potential Signs of Financial Abuse
It is crucial to recognize indicators of financial abuse so you’ll know how to protect your family member from being exploited if they live in a nursing home or receive 24-hour at-home care. There are some signs that your loved one is being abused financially:
- Indicators of financial activity that your family member could not have done independently. For instance, if your loved one lives in a nursing home, they are probably not making several ATM withdrawals a day.
- Signatures on checks and other financial documents that you don’t recognize.
- Unpaid bills, which are usually paid regularly.
- New relatives or people posing as friends who show a sudden interest in the senior individual’s assets.
- Missing valuable items or monies that are gone without explanation or the elderly person’s knowledge.
Unfortunately, elder financial exploitation will likely worsen as the population of elderly adults is steadily increasing. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the worldwide population of adults aged 60 and older is expected to double. There will be an estimated 2 billion people in this age group by 2050.
Other Types of Elder Abuse
Sadly, financial abuse is not the only form of abuse that older people experience. If you believe your loved one has been a victim of financial exploitation while in a nursing home, there’s a chance that other types of abuse are occurring.
For instance, your relative may be experiencing physical abuse or violence at the nursing home, including slapping, kicking, hitting, or burning. This can occur at the hands of the nursing home staff or another resident.
Emotional abuse can also occur in the nursing home. This can include verbal and non-verbal actions that cause harm to the resident, such as threatening, name-calling, or using social or physical isolation to “punish” a resident.
These abuse tactics are often used in addition to financial abuse to discourage residents from reporting the exploitation.
If you suspect a loved one is experiencing any form of abuse in the nursing home, file an official complaint with the authorities and hire a lawyer. Your attorney will review all the evidence about the case and tell you which processes are necessary to settle the matter and get your loved one the compensation they deserve. Schedule a consultation as soon as possible to find out what you can do to help a relative who is not being treated well in a nursing home setting.
As a freelance writer, Barbara Sanford dedicates most of her career to law reporting. Her greatest satisfaction is to convey legal matters to the public in a language that they can understand. She is active on various platforms and media outlets, writing about common legal issues that people confront with every day. While medical malpractice is her strong suit, Barbara covers plenty of other topics, including personal injury cases, family law, and other civil and even criminal legal matters.