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How to Spot Signs of Elder Financial Abuse This Holiday Season

This holiday season—as families gather to celebrate, give gifts, and create new memories—it’s important for those with elderly loved ones to remain alert to signs and symptoms of nursing home neglect and financial abuse. For those with an aging relative who lives in a nursing home, even a brief holiday visit provides an opportunity to watch for any evidence of economic exploitation.

Scammers view elderly people as easy prey. To guard yourself or a loved one against financial exploitation, it’s important to know the warning signs—and what to do if you spot them.

What You Should Know About the Increased Risk for Financial Abuse Around the Holidays

The holidays are a wonderful time of year to get together with family and celebrate the season. However, this time of year can also cause a great deal of inconvenience and challenges for already understaffed long-term care homes. Likewise, the holidays can be a peak season for scammers who capitalize on the generosity of their victims.

Considered the most common type of elder abuse, financial exploitation is defined as the illegal or improper use of an elderly person’s funds, property, or assets. Financial abuse can occur in numerous ways, including forging signatures, deception when signing documents or wills, and theft. Financial elder abusers perceive the elderly population as vulnerable and unlikely to fight back or expose the abuse. This type of exploitation can be a one-time incident, but more often than not, it continues for many years.

Unfortunately, most perpetrators of financial abuse aren’t strangers. Data from the National Center on Elder Abuse indicates that 90 percent of these perpetrators are people the victims know well, such as caregivers, nursing home staff, neighbors, friends, and even family.

The Signs of Elder Financial Abuse and How to Spot Them

Families should be the eyes and ears of nursing home residents, watching for any signs that may indicate elder financial abuse. Some of the most common signs of financial abuse include the following:

  • Unexplained withdrawals: Any mysterious withdrawal from a savings, checking, or retirement account should be investigated. Unexplained withdrawals should be seen as red flags of financial abuse.
  • Changes in financial condition: If you notice that your loved one’s finances have changed drastically, you should consider the cause for these changes. Someone else may be fraudulently using your loved one’s accounts.
  • Financial document changes: Any unanticipated changes to a loved one’s financial documents—including their will and power of attorney—should be seen as a potential sign of financial abuse.
  • Large withdrawals from accounts: Any large withdrawal from a bank account is suspicious, especially if your loved one doesn’t have direct access to their finances. It’s possible that an individual—perhaps a nursing home employee—got access to your loved one’s bank account and is withdrawing money fraudulently.
  • Theft of property: Abusers sometimes steal an elderly individual’s property, buying an item from them at a price far below the item’s market value, or “borrowing” something and never returning it.
  • Identity theft: Abusers may use the victim’s credit history to take out loans or obtain credit. Other forms of identity theft involve using the victim’s identity to obtain medical care or as an alias when committing additional crimes.

One way to protect your loved one’s assets is to create a system of checks and balances. Assign two or three people to be in charge of one part of the elder’s finances. This system gives each person some measure of influence over the others when it comes to making decisions. This way, if someone tries to make a hasty or unwise decision, the others would be able to have a say in whether or not it’s a good idea.

Another method of protection involves setting up automatic bill paying and direct deposit systems for your loved one. With no middleman, it eliminates the chance of money going missing.

If you believe that your loved one is the victim of financial elder abuse, take action. There are several ways you can help, including calling emergency services and reaching out to a trusted nursing home abuse lawyer.

Call an Expert Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in New York City

We understand how stressful it can be to watch your loved one face any form of trauma, pain, or distress. If you believe that a member of your family is caught up in a harmful or neglectful situation this holiday season, contact the trusted attorneys at Dalli & Marino.

We’re a group of successful nursing home abuse lawyers whose verdicts and settlements have recovered millions of dollars for our clients since 1996. Our team of highly skilled trial attorneys approaches each case on an individual basis and is dedicated to helping your loved one recover the money they deserve to compensate you for the financial losses they suffered. Give us a call at (888) 465-8790 or complete our contact form today.