If you’ve made the difficult decision to put a loved one in a nursing home, you’re entrusting their everything to the staff and doctors who are providing care. It’s common for patients to become friendly with staffers, and even to treat them as they would family members. But despite available protections, nursing home residents are frequent and easy targets for financial abuse, and may not even realize they are being targeted. If you believe your loved one is the victim of financial abuse in a nursing home, contact The Love Law Firm today. We may be able to help.
Elder abuse is notoriously under-reported, partly by the victims, who frequently fear retribution. Research estimates that 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have suffered some kind of elder abuse. Nursing home patients are already at a disadvantage because they are bedridden, and may be convalescing after surgery or a serious illness. Elderly residents may be overly trusting, or may have a degenerative neurological condition such as Alzheimer’s. These patients may not remember details, or are completely unaware that they have been victimized. Unscrupulous family members, caregivers and nursing home employees who have day-to-day contact with the residents can target these individuals by preying upon their trusting nature and occasional forgetfulness.
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of abuse, pay attention to anything unusual, and ask questions. You can fight back against someone taking advantage of your loved one.
Watch For Unusual Activity
MarketWatch reports that about 17% of elderly people have reported being scammed, and the average victim of elder abuse loses about $120,000. Banks are increasingly using high-tech methods to help prevent financial abuse of seniors, but it can still happen.
If you don’t see your loved one very often, it may be difficult to see that something may be wrong. (This is also true of physical and other types of abuse.) Visiting frequently, particularly by multiple family members, offers more opportunity to see something that’s “off.” Are you allowed to be alone with your loved one, or is there an overly-protective staffer lurking to overhear what’s being said? Is a distant family member suddenly visiting and friendly with your loved one? Are they suddenly being protective of their financial accounts, or don’t want to talk about money? Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Signs of nursing home financial abuse include:
- Alterations in wills, trusts and deeds
- New contracts, mortgages or loans
- New co-signers on bank accounts, with frequent withdrawals
- Activity in previously dormant bank accounts
- Changes of address
- Cashing a resident’s check without permission
- Sudden insufficient funds and/or overdraft fees on bank accounts
- Updated powers of attorney (to access financial accounts)
- Missing possessions (particularly valuable ones)
- Changes in investment accounts favoring another individual
- Any other questionable financial and/or legal arrangements
West Virginia Protects Vulnerable Adults
Many resources are available online to help protect vulnerable elderly individuals from financial abuse. Additionally, available technologies like direct deposit and automatic bill-pay can prevent your loved one from having financial documentation in the nursing home where it can be exploited.
In 2016, the state of West Virginia added and strengthened the laws protecting elderly and vulnerable adults, with additional penalties and fines for financial abuse. House Bill #4309, introduced on 1/27/2016, and signed by the governor on 3/25/16, establishes a cause of action, adds additional penalties, and allows for attorney’s fees in financial crimes against the elderly.
We Can Help
If you believe your loved one has been financially abused in a West Virginia nursing home, we stand ready to help you defend and protect them. We can offer you a contingency fee arrangement so we can start investigating your case immediately. Don’t let another day go by where your loved one may be in trouble and need help. Call Chad at The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344 5683.