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Understanding Financial Abuse of the Elderly

Financial exploitation can hurt anyone, but elderly individuals are especially susceptible to scams and other types of deception. Many seniors suffer from physical disabilities, have poor memories, and are less savvy with technology, making them more vulnerable than most. Plus, many scams target seniors specifically because they often have more money stored away than most young people who are just starting out. Unfortunately, this type of abuse can occur anywhere, but nursing home residents might be more in danger than most.

If you suspect your elderly parent or relative has suffered financial abuse, it is important that you understand how it occurs and what to do next.

Who Is Responsible?

Anyone who comes in contact with your elderly loved one could potentially take advantage of them, but consistent caregivers or visitors are the most likely culprits. In most cases, the person who takes advantage of the elderly is someone they have come to trust or rely on. They might be a caretaker, relative, neighbor, nursing home employee, doctor, nurse, or even a counselor or pastor.

Know the Signs

Your loved one might not even be aware he or she is being exploited, in which case you may not notice behavioral changes. When the exploited party is unaware, changes to their bank account, credit cards, credit score, or legal documents might be a better indicator that something is amiss. If you notice unexplained purchases, money transfers, new credit cards, or a sudden drop in your loved one’s credit score, it is time to investigate.

Sometimes, the exploiter might also try to work with the elderly individual and their attorney to obtain certain rights through a power of attorney. They might even try to change a will or trust to establish themselves as beneficiaries.

If the elderly person is confronted with the exploitation, they will likely feel embarrassed and defensive. They might lash out when questioned or could become angry. They might also think they are not really being exploited. The thief might have convinced them to gift certain funds or credit cards, or they might have persuaded them to change legal documents under false pretenses or outright lies. Remember, everyone reacts differently, so if you notice any strange behavior from your loved one, try to have a discussion about the issue, and seek legal help.

What Should You Do Next?

Elder abuse can happen anywhere, and even though nursing homes are the most common platform, exploitation could occur at home, in a store, or even in the hospital. After you’ve attempted to discuss the issue with your loved one, make sure you gather all of the facts and determine whether or not something could be amiss. If you suspect that your loved one has been, or is currently being, exploited, take immediate action by speaking with an attorney. If your loved one is in a nursing home or assisted care facility, consider removing them from their care immediately and tell them about the issue you’ve encountered. Unfortunately, there might be other victims in the home.

Contact Simeone & Miller, LLP today to get started on your Washington DC nursing home abuse case with the help of our personal injury lawyers.