Financial exploitation or abuse is a major problem in nursing homes throughout the United States. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), it can cost older adults as much as $36.5 billion every year. While not all elder financial abuse occurs in nursing homes, they are a common source.
Both federal and Kentucky state laws are clear on the rights of older adults residing in nursing homes. These laws protect them from all forms of abuse, namely, physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse.
If your loved one’s money or personal items have gone missing while living in a nursing home, you can take action. Our Louisville missing money or personal items lawyer can help you investigate the circumstances and determine if a theft occurred. Based on our findings, we may be able to help you pursue compensation from the responsible party. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to speak to one of our team members today.
Financial Abuse Defined
Financial abuse or exploitation refers to the improper or illegal usage of someone else’s funds, assets, or other property. Older adults-particularly those suffering from cognitive impairments due to dementia and related diseases-are more at risk for financial abuse.
Iit is often a close relation or caretaker that takes advantage of these situations and commits financial abuse. This can include nursing home staff members who spend a significant amount of time caring for the resident each day.
Examples of Financial Abuse
There are many ways caregivers or guardians of older adults can commit financial abuse and fraud. Some forms of financial exploitation may be obvious, while others may be more subtle. Common examples include:
- Forging the victim’s signature on checks or other transactions.
- Theft of personal items, assets, or possessions.
- Coercing or otherwise deceiving the victim into signing documents (e.g., a new will, contracts, or property transfers).
- Any improper use of guardianship, conservatorship, or power of attorney.
- Cashing the victim’s checks without permission or authorization.
For a free legal consultation with a Missing Money or Personal Items Lawyer serving Louisville, call (800) 842-6336
Signs of Financial Abuse and Exploitation in Nursing Homes
If your loved one resides in a nursing home, it is essential to keep checking their possessions, accounts, and other assets to ensure they remain intact. You will also want to establish a procedure for your loved one that allows them to access money or valuable items while preventing exploitation. The following are examples of financial abuse signs to watch out for:
- Unexplained withdrawal of securities or sums of money
- Sudden changes in banking practices or bank statements
- Inclusion of names you do not recognize on bank signature cards, account information, or next of kin details
- Sudden and unexplainable changes in wills or other financial documents
- The disappearance of personal items or possessions
- Unpaid bills despite there being enough funds
- Unauthorized cashing of checks without the victim’s knowledge or approval
- Provision of substandard care
- Discovery of forged signatures for financial transactions
- Subscriptions to unnecessary or unrequested services
- Unexplained asset transfer or property sale, especially to uninvolved relatives or strangers
If your loved one complains that their personal items or money are lost, it is critical to investigate the cause. Begin by making a report to the nursing home administration and contacting legal representation. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help if the administration fails to provide satisfactory answers.
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Financial Rights of Older Adults in Nursing Homes
Any older adult of sound mind residing in a nursing home has the right to financial independence. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) states that these residents maintain the right to manage their own financial affairs. Nursing home caregivers or administrators must never withhold or abuse their residents’ rights to:
- Spend their money as they wish.
- Manage their funds and accounts.
- Access their money.
Additionally, they must provide privacy regarding their financial affairs and spending habits. Nursing home residents may appoint someone to handle their finances on their behalf, whether or not they have impaired cognitive function. However, residents with dementia or other kinds of cognitive impairments are especially vulnerable and require protection. Their legal guardians should be responsible and trustworthy people who take these duties seriously and look out for red flags.
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How to Protect Your Loved One from Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes
As a guardian, you must pay attention to your loved one’s mental state and keep track of their funds, assets, and other belongings. This may involve keeping records of all payments, statements, bills, and receipts. It is not uncommon for people to steal small amounts over time, hoping that they will go unnoticed.
Encourage your loved one to keep only what they need around them and to make sure their possessions are locked away if they leave the room. It can help to ask the nursing home administration if there are safes for valuables and important documents the resident needs to have with them.
Regarding personal items, remember that carelessness with personal belongings can encourage theft. You can deter a thief from targeting your loved one by:
- Leaving them with small amounts of cash for personal use.
- Making an inventory of all valuables and checking against it regularly.
- Providing a lockable drawer for personal items.
It is not possible to eliminate all risk of financial abuse and theft. However, following these tips can help you to recognize when it happens and guide your investigations.
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How Our Louisville Missing Money or Personal Items Lawyer Can Help You
If you suspect your loved one had money or valuable possessions taken from them in the nursing home, a Louisville missing money or personal items lawyer from our firm can be a valuable resource. We can help you investigate the situation and determine who to hold responsible. A nursing home facility may be liable for failing to enforce measures that prevent theft of their residents’ belongings.
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we represent victims of nursing home abuse and neglect throughout Kentucky. You can trust our lawyers to work hard to get justice for your loved one. We offer free, confidential, no-obligation case reviews, so you have nothing to lose by reaching out. Call us at (800) 842-6336 for your initial, complimentary appointment.