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Long-term care residents are far too often the victims nursing home financial exploitation.  Although financial exploitation often occurs simultaneously with other forms of elder abuse, its increasing prevalence and devastation on the elderly requires particular attention.

We have written other articles on how to protect nursing home residents, but how do you spot signs of nursing home financial exploitation once you have placed your loved one in a facility?

While the signs are many and varied, common warning signs of nursing home financial exploitation include:

  • Sudden changes in a resident’s bank account, including large cash withdrawals
  • Missing personal property and valuables (jewelry, watches, clothing and other personal items)
  • Sudden liquidations of investments (CDs, mutual funds, stocks/bonds, life insurance policies and annuities)
  • Abrupt changes in wills, powers of attorney, trust documents or other financial documents
  • Unauthorized ATM withdrawals
  • Unexplained transfer of assets to someone outside the family
  • Missing mail
  • Unpaid bills, despite available financial assets to pay the bills
  • Unexplained, sudden changes in spending patterns
  • Visits from non-family members who are selling financial products or other services

These are all important factors to consider if you suspect a loved one is the victim of nursing home financial exploitation.

If you suspect financial exploitation, there are several actions that can be taken:

  • Routinely review your loved one’s bank statements and other financial documents.  Immediately report any suspicious activity to the bank or financial institution.
  • Take control of your loved one’s checkbook and credit cards.
  • Limit the amount of cash the resident keeps at the facility.  There is little reason for nursing home residents to have a large amount of cash on hand.
  • Protect valuable watches and jewelry by limiting use to outings and family visits.  Nursing home residents often look forward to “dressing up” for a meal or visit outside the facility, and wearing a valuable watch or piece of jewelry can often enhance these occasions.
  • Notify Adult Protective Services of suspected financial exploitation

Clear communication between the resident and her family members will help prevent financial exploitation.

Suspect Nursing Home Abuse?