Financial Exploitation: A Very Real Threat for Seniors in Nursing Homes

Considering the hefty fees that nursing homes charge, one would think they would be a haven of care and comfort for the seniors who check in.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Financial exploitation is a growing concern among seniors, and nursing homes, unfortunately, can be breeding grounds for this type of abuse.

Nursing home abuse attorneys are always willing to come to the rescue of seniors who are being exploited, with or without their knowledge.

What Is Considered Financial Exploitation of Seniors?

Financial exploitation of seniors is the illegal or unauthorized use of an elderly person’s money, property, or assets for the benefit of someone else. It’s a form of elder abuse, and it can have devastating consequences for a senior’s financial security and well-being.

Here’s a crucial point to remember: exploitation can occur even if there’s no violence or threats involved. Deception, undue influence, or taking advantage of a senior’s diminished mental capacity are all forms of exploitation.

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimates that financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse, affecting millions of seniors each year. 

The crime can be perpetrated by anyone, but caregivers, family members, and even nursing home staff are often in a position of trust and can easily exploit a senior’s vulnerability.

How Are Seniors Exploited in Nursing Homes?

The methods used to exploit seniors in nursing homes can be as diverse as the perpetrators themselves. Here are some common red flags to be aware of:

Stealing Cash, Credit Cards, or Personal Belongings

This is a blatant form of theft, where cash, jewelry, credit cards, or other valuables are taken from the senior without their knowledge or consent.

Billing for Unnecessary Services

Nursing homes have a responsibility to provide accurate billing. However, in some cases, family members, caregivers, or even facility staff might inflate bills or charge for services that were not rendered to the patients.

Pressure to Change Wills or Beneficiaries

The exploiters may try to manipulate a senior into changing their will or beneficiary designations to divert assets to themselves. 

Sweetheart Scams

Sadly, seniors can also be targeted by individuals who feign affection to gain access to their money. Those who are seldom visited by friends or family are very likely to fall victim to sweetheart scams due to their desire for companionship.

Misuse of Power of Attorney

A power of attorney grants someone legal authority to manage an elder’s finances. These fraudsters can pressure a senior into signing over the power of attorney and then misuse that authority for personal gain.

Deceitful Investment Schemes

Seniors can be targeted by scammers who promise high returns on risky investments. These schemes often involve manipulative tactics and prey on an elder’s trust or limited financial knowledge.

Fake Charities or Solicitation Scams

Seniors are often generous and willing to donate to worthy causes. Unfortunately, some may be targeted by fake charities or solicitation scams where their donations are pocketed by fraudsters.

Signs of Financial Exploitation

Noticing the signs of financial exploitation is the key to preventing them as early as they begin. Here are the core signs you should look out for.

  • Unexplained Withdrawals or Changes in Spending Habits

Unusual bank statements with large withdrawals, particularly to unknown recipients, can be a red flag. Be mindful of sudden changes in how a senior spends their money.

  • Missing Valuables or Unpaid Bills

If personal belongings like jewelry or cash go missing, or if bills start piling up despite the senior having sufficient funds, this could indicate exploitation.

  • Reluctance to Discuss Finances

A senior who becomes secretive or hesitant to discuss their finances might be experiencing pressure or coercion.

  • Changes in Legal Documents

Be aware of any unexpected changes to wills, power of attorney documents, or property deeds. These could be signs of manipulation.

  • New “Friends” or Caregivers Who Shower the Senior with Attention

While genuine friendships can blossom, be wary of individuals who suddenly take an intense interest in an elder’s well-being, particularly if they’re pressuring them for money or financial information.

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