Elder abuse is a prevalent issue that isn’t talked about by many. Unfortunately, one in six people over the age of 60 years old experience some kind of elder abuse in community settings, like nursing homes. The two most common types of elder abuse are psychological abuse and financial abuse. However, other types of abuse, like physical, neglectful, and sexual abuse all occur more than we may think.
Long-term care facilities and family members are often at fault for these types of abuse. People often view the elderly as vulnerable, easy targets, which is why they experience these types of abuse.
People believe that they can get away with their crimes against an older person, but that’s not the case. Here at Eberst Law Firm, we’ll help ensure that they are held liable for the damages they do.
What is financial abuse?
Financial abuse refers to the “misuse or withholding of an older adult’s resources by another,” as stated by the National Council on Aging. This financial exploitation is possible because older adults often require some degree of caretaking, like someone keeping their finances in order.
When someone acts as a fiduciary through guardianship or power of attorney, it means they are to be trusted with such a task. If this person abuses their position by
- using the money for themselves,
- withholding finances,
- unauthorized sale or transfer of elder’s property,
- wasting or intentionally mismanaging assets, or
- failing to use assets for the elder’s support and maintenance,
it’s considered financial exploitation or abuse. There are serious consequences in place for anyone who breaches their fiduciary duty.
Why are elders in nursing homes at risk of financial abuse?
When your elderly loved one is in a nursing home, they aren’t able to tend to their own finances as well as they did when they lived on their own. Their fiduciary is responsible for making any necessary payments and moving money around as needed.
They are less capable, mentally or physically to ensure that their money is being managed correctly. They may not have access to their mail first, and they may not be kept well in the loop about what’s going on at all times.
Because your elderly loved one can’t always check to make sure money is being used appropriately, financial abuse can occur.
In some cases, it can be hard for a person in an assisted living facility to know that anything is going on with their money until it’s too late. That’s why the person appointed to take care of their finances is generally someone trusty worthy. Unfortunately, even those we trust most may cause financial abuse for whatever reasons.
Statistics on Elder Financial Exploitation in Assisted Living Facilities
There are many different statistics available about financial exploitation that occurs within assisted living facilities. One study states that 6.8% of assisted living facility occupants that had self-reported abuse stated that they had experienced financial abuse while a similar study found that 5.2% had experienced financial abuse from a family member and 6.5% had experienced financial abuse from a stranger.
Signs and Risk Factors of Elder Financial Abuse
If you’re worried about your elderly relative that lives in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you will want to look out for the following signs of elder abuse. If you believe that your loved one is experiencing some kind of financial abuse, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible, and speak with your loved one about what’s going on.
In some circumstances, your loved one may be aware of the circumstances. However, they may feel powerless to do anything to stop it from happening. Signs of financial elder abuse include:
- Large withdrawals from the senior’s bank account or large transfers between different bank accounts
- Higher spending with no reason behind it
- Changes to spending patterns
- Increased credit card charges
- Another person being added to the senior’s bank account or another person being given signatory power
- Unpaid bills when the senior has enough money in their account to get the bills paid
- The senior is being isolated by a person in power
- Changes to your loved one’s behavior or personality
Unfortunately, there are also some risk factors that put seniors at a higher risk of being financially abused, including:
- Women are more likely to experience financial abuse, especially those between the ages of 80 and 89
- People who live in social isolation
- People who are experiencing declining mental or physical health
Contact a Florida Nursing Home Attorney to get Justice for Your Family Members
If you believe that your loved one is experiencing financial elder abuse, please contact our talented team of attorneys here at Eberst Law Firm. Our years of experience working on similar cases will prove invaluable, allowing you to recover damages and get the justice you deserve for your family members’ elder abuse case.