Two kinds of financial abuse exist at assisted living facilities. Financial abuse may occur when someone legally appointed to handle a resident’s finances misuses their funds. In other cases, someone steals from, commits fraud against, or otherwise takes advantage of a resident to access their money and other property. This scenario can involve family members, staff, visitors, or strangers.
Both of these types of financial abuse can be devastating for the victims. They can lead to financial problems that leave the resident without the means to pay for the care that they need.
The exploitation of older adults by people legally handling their finances
In some cases, the people who residents in these facilities trust to handle their finances—and who have a legal duty to manage their finances—engage in financial abuse. Examples of people who many handle a resident’s finances include:
- Legal guardians
- Agents under powers of attorney
- Social Security representative payees
- VA fiduciaries
- Assisted living facility managers
These individuals may be legally responsible for managing and using the assets belonging to a resident to care for them and provide for their needs. Residents often choose trusted family members or friends to serve in these roles. Unfortunately, this level of trust can leave residents vulnerable to financial exploitation.
When these individuals misuse the funds or fail to spend them on necessities, the resident can go without the care that they need. For instance, if a legal guardian fails to pay the assisted living facility, the resident could lose their housing. Likewise, failure to pay insurance premiums or medical bills can be detrimental to residents getting the healthcare they need.
Theft and scams impacting assisted living residents
In some cases of financial abuse, the perpetrators have no legal duty to manage or safeguard resident finances. Instead, an abuser may try to gain a resident’s trust in order to take advantage of them.
They may mislead, lie, or misrepresent their intentions to convince the victim to:
- Sign over ownership of assets
- Give them cash
- Otherwise provide access to their funds
Any manipulation that causes a resident to turn over funds or property when they normally would not qualifies as financial abuse.
Perpetrators of this type of financial abuse can range from family members to assisted living facility staff to strangers. Whether the perpetrator is a family member taking advantage of a close relationship or a stranger trying to carry out a scam on random or targeted residents, the effects can be devastating.
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The impact of financial abuse at assisted living facilities
Assisted living facilities are supposed to provide services that protect your loved one from harm, including the risk of financial exploitation. Yet, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) affirms that financial abuse is not uncommon.
The typical assisted living facility offers residents 24-hour assistance with:
- Daily activities
- Medication management
Relying on others for this assistance can place residents in vulnerable positions in which they may experience financial exploitation.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, residents of assisted living facilities are at greater risk for financial exploitation if they have cognitive impairments stemming from conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The exploitation of finances is also more likely to affect members of this population if they lack the social support system to help protect them.
When someone takes advantage of a resident’s finances, they could lose the following due to unpaid bills and missing funds:
- Their housing
- Medical care
- Other necessities
Fighting back against financial abuse of assisted living residents
If you discover that your loved one has suffered any of the different kinds of financial abuse at assisted living facilities, you have legal options. With the help of our firm, you may be able to hold those who committed this abuse or allowed it to occur accountable for their actions.
We can help you stop financial abuse and pursue those who failed to protect your loved one. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 today to get more information about the legal services that we can offer you in a free consultation. We handle cases on a contingency-fee-basis, which means that you owe us nothing until you receive compensation.