According to the 2011 New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, more elders are the victims of elderly financial abuse each year than any other type of abuse – including physical, emotional and sexual abuse, as well as neglect. The study, which asked seniors and their loved ones to report abuse by caregivers, found that 41 out of every 1,000 seniors in the survey had suffered victimization through major financial exploitation.
What is elderly financial abuse?
Financial abuse of the elderly occurs when another person takes unapproved control of a senior’s finances, property or assets, or otherwise exploits the senior for personal material gain. There are a number of common schemes that abusers use to take advantage of vulnerable seniors. These may include:
- Forging signatures on checks and other financial documents
- Stealing money, possessions, or other assets
- Cashing a senior’s checks without authorization
- Using a debit or credit card without permission
- Using coercion to convince a senior to add the abuser to a will or other document
- Deceiving the senior into giving authorization to access accounts
- Improper use of power of attorney or conservatorship
What are the signs of financial abuse of the elderly?
Signs of elder abuse are often easy to spot if you have access to your loved one’s financial accounts and records. If not, they can be more difficult to see. Discussing your senior’s finances openly, either with your loved one or the person authorized to access her records, can help you identify any signs of financial abuse. Things to look for include:
- Sudden changes in banking habits
- Unexplained withdrawal of money, often with someone accompanying the senior to the bank
- Unknown or unauthorized names added to the bank signature card
- Unexplained charges on the senior’s debit or credit card
- Sudden changes in wills, powers of attorney, or other documents
- Disappearance of money, property, or assets
- Missed bill payments despite having adequate funds in an account
- Forged signatures on checks or other financial documents
- Sudden involvement of previously unknown relatives or caregivers in financial matters
- Charges for unnecessary services or those that a resident never received
- A senior who believes they are being taken advantage of by a caregiver
What do I do if I suspect financial abuse?
If you believe your loved one is suffering from elder abuse, you should take action to immediately safeguard their assets from the abuser or any other unauthorized user. If you believe it is a nursing home staff member, notify management immediately. You may also want to make arrangements to transfer your loved one to another facility.
Do I need to enlist the help of an attorney?
A nursing home abuse attorney at Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A. can help you pursue a civil case if your loved one suffered elderly financial abuse – or another type of abuse – at the hands of a trusted caregiver, nursing home staff member, or other abuser. Under Ohio law, victims of financial abuse are often eligible to recover compensation for the damages they suffered. Contact us today at 419-843-6663 to schedule an appointment.