Learn the warning signs of financial exploitation and how an attorney can help if you suspect abuse.
Residents of nursing homes are vulnerable to different types of abuse – including physical, verbal, and sexual. But another type of nursing home abuse that often doesn’t receive as much attention is financial abuse or exploitation.
State law defines financial exploitation as “the expenditure, diminution, or use of the property, assets, or resources of a protected person without the express voluntary consent of that person or his or her legally authorized representative or the admission of or provision of care to a protected person who needs to be in the care of a licensed hospital by an unlicensed hospital after a court order obtained by the State Board of Health has directed the closure of the unlicensed hospital. (§38-9-2(8))
In short, financial abuse can be any illegal or improper use of a resident’s money, credit, property, benefits, assets, or belongings. Examples include:
- Taking money out of a resident’s bank account without authorization.
- Forging checks.
- Overcharging for services.
- Charging for services that weren’t provided.
- Taking valuable items.
- Changing names on accounts, wills, and life insurance policies.
Residents who have dementia or other forms of cognitive decline are especially vulnerable. Isolation, loneliness, disability, and unfamiliarity with financial matters can also be factors. The abuser could be a nursing home staff member who works closely with a resident and has access to their financial information.
Signs of financial abuse
How can you tell if a loved one is the victim of financial abuse? Here are some signs:
- Unexplained withdrawal from financial accounts.
- Changes in the list of names authorized to access accounts.
- Unusual activity involving the resident’s credit card.
- Changes in a will.
- New and unusual financial accounts or transactions.
- Missing money or items.
- The resident talks about someone stealing money or property.
- The resident gets upset when talking about finances.
You know your loved one best. If you suspect that something is wrong, don’t ignore that feeling. If you think your loved one may be a victim of financial abuse in a nursing home:
- Keep documentation of your loved one’s financial transactions.
- Report your concerns to the nursing home administrator.
- Contact the Alabama Department of Human Resources, Adult Protective Services – Adult Abuse Hotline 1-800-458-7214 or Alabama Department of Senior Services – 1-800-AGELINE (1-800-243-5463).
- Contact an experienced Alabama nursing home abuse lawyer to review your legal rights and options.
How a nursing home abuse lawyer can help
An experienced attorney will be familiar with the laws concerning financial abuse and guide you through the legal process. Your lawyer can:
- Investigate the financial abuse.
- Interview witnesses.
- Review documentation.
- Consult experts as needed.
- Help you report the abuse to the proper authorities.
- Deal directly with the nursing home on behalf of your family.
- Help you take legal action if necessary.
Attorney Perry Shuttlesworth of Shuttlesworth Law Firm fights for the rights of nursing home abuse victims and their families. Our firm has been serving clients in Birmingham and throughout Alabama since 1998 and has a strong record of getting results. If you suspect the financial abuse of a loved one, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.