Financial abuse is a fast-growing form of exploitation in residents of nursing homes that can have devastating effects.

This type of abuse can be just as damaging as physical or emotional mistreatment, but is usually more difficult to detect and establish. 

Continue reading to learn about what constitutes elder financial abuse, the warning signs to be aware of, and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you or your loved ones. 

What is Elder Financial Abuse?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes elder financial abuse as the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an elder’s: 

  • Money
  • Benefits
  • Belongings
  • Property
  • Assets

Essentially, any sort of financial or material exploitation is considered abuse. This can happen to any senior, regardless of their socio-economic status. Nursing home residents are especially prone to this type of mistreatment, as they may be more vulnerable to deceptive practices taking place. In many cases, the victims are completely unaware that this is transpiring. 

Financial Abuse Examples 

Financial abuse does not occur in a one-size-fits-all formula. There are many variations of this type of exploitation, but here are some of the most common examples: 

  • Depriving an older person of rightful access to their assets
  • Forging their signature
  • Cashing their checks without permission or authorization
  • Stealing or misusing an elderly person’s money or possessions
  • Coercing them to sign documents, such as a contract or will
  • Improper use of guardianship or power of attorney 

Frequency of Financial Abuse 

Elder abuse is a serious problem in the United States. There are many different types and unfortunately, they are all quite common. Abuse is experienced by about 1 in 10 people aged 60 and older who live in nursing homes. 

An Oxford study from February 2019 discovered that about 13.8 percent of nursing home residents have encountered financial abuse. Conversely, only about 6.8 percent of them generally report it. Overall, estimates suggest that 64.2 percent of staff admitted to elder abuse over one year. 

Signs of Elder Financial Abuse 

It is important to understand the signs of financial abuse to safeguard your loved one if they are a facility resident. Some of the most common signs include: 

  • Unexplained cash withdrawals or transfers
  • Abrupt financial document changes
  • Living conditions that are below means
  • Cheap medications
  • Lacking medical devices
  • Missing cards or noticing unusual charges
  • Fraudulent signatures
  • Becoming reluctant to talk about financial issues

Preventing Financial Abuse 

Understanding the signs of financial abuse is a great start toward preventing it. Additionally, here are some other methods for avoiding this type of exploitation: 

  • Check reviews of nursing facilities before hiring anyone to administer care
  • Use automatic bill paying systems
  • Communicate with banks if you notice suspicious activity
  • Consider hiring a geriatric care manager to oversee finances
  • Be wary of caregivers who attempt to excessively isolate your loved one

Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton is Here to Help 

If you suspect that your loved one has been a victim of elder financial abuse, report it immediately to your state’s hotline. You should also contact the police and Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton. Our qualified attorneys have experience handling all types of elder abuse cases, including financial abuse. We fight for victims and their families to receive not only fair compensation but also respect and kindness. We have offices throughout Utah County as well as West Jordan in Utah.  

Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation today.