Most in Providence have likely heard stories of nursing home residents suffering physical abuse at the hands of their caretakers. Often, it takes a family member of friend recognizing the signs of such abuse in order for it to ever come to light. However, there is another form of nursing home abuse that leaves no physical traces, yet still can be just as damaging: financial abuse.
A 2003 report on elder abuse funded by the National Institute of Health listed the following as examples of financial elder abuse:
- The theft or unauthorized use of money or personal property.
- Fraudulent charging or overcharging for care services.
- Coercing an elderly person into signing a financial document.
- Misusing power of attorney or conservatorship authority.
- Forcing a senior to sign a financial document.
- Using credit or ATM cards, or cashing checks without permission.
Often, caregivers or nursing home staff will take advantage of the decreased mental capacity of a resident or his or her solitude for their own financial gain. Unfortunately, in many instances, the elderly victims of this abuse don’t even know that it’s happening. Those who do discover it are often too ashamed to admit that it happened, or they fear that they’ll experience reprisals if they do report it. Indeed, data from the National Center on Elder Abuse shows that only one in every 25 cases of financial exploitation of the elderly is actually reported.
This puts an even greater onus on the family members of nursing home residents to stop such abuse before it becomes too late. They are encouraged to closely monitor all bank and credit card statements, as well as any other financial documents. Should any suspicious activity be observed, it should be reported immediately.