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What is elder financial abuse and what are the warning signs?

| Mar 3, 2019 | Nursing Home Neglect

Elder abuse in nursing homes is far more common than most people would believe, a fact that rings true in New York and throughout the entire U.S. When most people use the term “elder abuse,” they are referring to physical, sexual, emotional or even psychological abuse. Many individuals do not associate abuse with money, but the truth is that elder financial exploitation is one of the most common forms of nursing home abuse. If you have a loved one who lives in a nursing home, it is important that you understand what elder financial abuse and how to identify it.

According to ConsumerFinance.gov, elder financial exploitation occurs when a person takes money without permission, fails to repay money borrowed, does not do what a person pays him or her to do or charges far too much for a service. Elderly people are particularly susceptible to financial exploitation because cognitive impairment, which many elderly individuals live with, diminishes their abilities to make financial decisions for themselves or to detect scams or frauds.

Elder financial abuse is a costly and pervasive issue. According to Consumer Finance, older Americans lost at least $2.9 billion to financial abuse in 2010. Approximately five percent of Americans aged 60+ experienced financial abuse at the hands of a loved one in a single year. More recent findings suggest that protective services agencies only looked into one in 44 cases of financial mistreatment.

The consequences of financial exploitation go far beyond monetary loss. Financial mistreatment can cause severe depression, emotional distress, loss of independence, deterioration of physical healthy and shortened lifespan. For this reason, you should know how to identify it so you can put a stop to it.

Consumer Finance details dozens of warning signs of financial exploitation. Some of those warning signs include your loved one complaining of missing money, checkbooks or credit cards, or of them acting agitated during or after a visit with a certain family member. If you notice that items disappear out of your loved one’s possession, that someone has replaced an item with a similar item of lesser value or that your loved one does not have the basics, such as underwear or a toothbrush, he or she may be the victim of financial mistreatment.

Unpaid billing issues or the payment of bills in cash are also signs of financial exploitation. So too is a “chaperone” who does not leave your loved one’s side when he or she has company, statements about signing documents or an agent pressuring your loved one to deny treatment on the basis of cost.

The information in this article is for your educational purposes only. In no way should it be construed as legal advice. 

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