The Illinois Department on Aging (IDOA) received more than 16,500 reports of abuse in 2017. Financial exploitation, also called financial abuse, accounted for the majority of cases with more than 8,000 reports. While some of the older adults were living at home with family, many others were in long-term care facilities when the financial abuse happened. The IDOA further reported that family members filed 16% of these reports.
It can be concerning when your parent or spouse in the nursing home is suddenly missing personal items or money. At first, you may put this down to their forgetfulness. However, if the incidents of loss continue, you might wonder whether they are suffering from financial abuse or exploitation in their nursing home. A Forest Park missing money or personal items lawyer may be able to assist you.
Older persons have the right to live in safety and dignity without mistreatment. Illinois nursing homes have to ensure that their care is in line with state and federal legislation, such as the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act. The act protects the elderly from nursing home abuse. It states that nursing homes should maintain their residents’ “physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being.” This includes freedom from financial abuse.
If your loved one has been losing money or personal items, perhaps repeatedly, the facility or nursing home staff may be at fault. It may help to speak to a Forest Park missing money or personal items lawyer to inquire about the legal avenues open to you and your loved one, and how to remedy the situation. You may be able to receive compensation for any material losses as well as emotional suffering due to theft and loss. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today and speak to one of our team members.
Financial Rights of the Nursing Home Resident
If your loved one in the nursing home is of sound mind, they have the right to manage their funds and finances. According to The National Consumer Voice For Quality Long-Term Care, the nursing home should not be withholding these rights, which include:
- Managing their accounts and finances
- The ability to access their own money
- Freedom to spend money as desired
- Privacy for spending habits
Nursing home residents may also appoint someone who handles their finances for them.
In a nursing home, if money goes missing, it can be difficult to trace who took or misplaced the cash. Sadly, many thieves and criminals see this as an opportunity to steal money from a resident who may be starting to suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s.
This is why it is important to pay close attention to your loved one’s state of mind as well as to their finances. Try to encourage your spouse or parent to keep records and receipts of any purchases so that you can follow up if anything seems wrong, or if any money goes missing. Remember that someone could be stealing small amounts from your loved one over time, which would make the disappearance of cash far less noticeable.
Discourage your loved one from keeping or “hiding” large sums of money in their room. Encourage them to keep just enough cash for their personal needs at hand, keeping the majority of their funds safe in an interest-bearing account, for example.
Missing Personal Items
Some of the most frequently lost items in nursing homes, according to a Fontys University of Applied Sciences study, are, among others: glasses, hearing aids, clothes, dentures, jewelry, and photographs/memorabilia.
Some of these items have emotional and nostalgic value to a resident, such as photographs and memorabilia. For many residents, these items represent a connection to their former lives, helping them remember happy times. Losing these nostalgic items can have a detrimental effect on a nursing home resident’s mental health.
Losing any old family photographs, heirlooms, or other irreplaceable items can also be upsetting for the entire family. Although the items may have little to no monetary value, they may be “priceless” to an elderly person and their relatives.
Other items have practical and monetary value, for example, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and dentures. While it is, of course, possible to replace these items, they are expensive and may need several appointments with doctors, dentists, and optometrists. Replacing these items time and time again can be prohibitively costly as well as impractical.
Losing practical items can make it quite difficult for a nursing home resident to partake in their normal daily routines and even put their health at risk. Lost dentures, for example, can cause dental problems and malnutrition. When a hearing aid is missing, the elderly person is unable to communicate effectively with others or watch television, potentially leaving them isolated and bored. Losing glasses can have an impact on the elderly person’s ability to get around safely and may even cause them to fall and hurt themselves.
It can help to make a list of the valuables and personal items in your loved one’s possession, and tagging these items or engraving them with the initials of your loved one.
For a free legal consultation with a Missing Money or Personal Items Lawyer serving Forest Park, call (800) 794-0444
Nursing Home Responsibility
Illinois nursing homes have responsibilities when it comes to making sure that their residents’ possessions and monies are safe on the premises. According to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care, some of these responsibilities are:
- Creating policies for theft and investigation of the theft, as well as posting it on the premises
- Training and informing new employees on theft and loss procedures
- Creating an inventory of property help by residents in the facility. Nursing homes should write inventories down and update it regularly.
- Tagging, engraving, or otherwise marking residents’ personal items and property
- Submitting reports to the police in writing for the loss of any item over $100
- Starting inventories of loss and theft for items over $25
If you find that you have replaced your loved one’s personal items at a considerable expense, and feel that the nursing home has let your loved one down, speak to a Forest Park missing money or personal items lawyer from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today. We can discuss your case and advise you completely free of charge. Find out today how you and your loved one could receive compensation for your losses.