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Nursing Home Abuse: Warning Signs Your Loved One is a Victim of Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation is just a single example of nursing home abuse that happens to elderly individuals. According to the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), this problem is one that is seriously concerning. Consider the statistics about this type of nursing home abuse.Nursing Home Abuse

  • Up to five percent of all Americans over the age of 60 experience some type of financial exploitation every year.
  • Almost $3 billion was exploited from seniors in the U.S. in 2010.
  • The Medicare and Medicate systems are being overburdened by cases of financial exploitation with almost one in ten victims of it having to be forced to rely on these programs after they lose their own financial security and stability.
  • New programs to end financial exploitation were introduced in 2011, but they were only effective in stopping one out of every 44 incidents.
  • The individuals who are close to the elderly person, such as friends, family members, neighbors, pastors, nurses, doctors and caregivers are most likely to perpetrate the issues of financial exploitation against seniors.

Common Examples of Financial Exploitation and Nursing Home Abuse

When financial exploitation occurs in nursing homes it can happen in several ways. Some of the most commonly seen examples of this include:

  • The use of technology to help scam older residents
  • A caregiver who uses the power of attorney status improperly
  • The cashing of a resident’s check
  • Theft of the resident’s physical possessions or money
  • The coercion or deception to get a resident to sign wills, contracts or documents
  • Forging of the resident’s signature

It is imperative that care providers and family members stay aware of any suspicious activity involving their senior loved one’s accounts, documents, cash or finances. Being aware of the signs of financial exploitation is also critical.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse: Financial Exploitation

There are several indications that your senior loved one, who resides in a nursing home, has become a victim of financial exploitation. These signs include:

  • Bills that go unpaid
  • Missing documents, statements, credit cards and checks
  • Inconsistencies between financial accounts and statements
  • Complaints from the elderly person of their property or money being stolen
  • The sudden lack of medications or basic personal needs
  • Agitation or distress when the person committing the abuse is around

Protecting Elderly Residents from Nursing Home Abuse

If you want to help protect your loved one from financial exploitation, you need to learn about the signs and dangers of this situation. By knowing the signs of this issue, you can take steps to prevent it, or act if you suspect it has occurred.

If you do suspect that your loved one is a victim of financial exploitation, or any type of nursing home abuse, contact the attorneys at Fetterman & Associates by calling 561-845-2510.

Additional Reading

The Increasing Trend of Accidents Among Older Truck Drivers in Florida

Proving Intervening Cause in a Florida Injury Case

How to Detect Financial Abuse in a Nursing Home

Abuse in a Nursing Home Financial abuse is often under-reported. This may be because those who suffer through this type of abuse are not always aware that they are being taken advantage of or cannot express their disapproval in a meaningful way.

In fact, one source reports that there are over 500,000 elderly people who are victims of financial scams every year.

Financial abuse of the elderly, including those in nursing homes, costs victims between $2.6 and $3 billion annually.

Learn more about the facts surrounding nursing home abuse.

These staggering numbers may be in response to increased technology, an aging population, and various social changes between age groups.

You may not realize it, but financial abuse is a form of personal injury, and a personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie can help you or your loved ones fight back against nursing home abuse.

Download a PDF version of How to Detect Financial Abuse in a Nursing Home

Types of Nursing Home Abuse or Elder Abuse

Usually, when you hear “abuse” you may automatically assume physical, sexual, or even verbal abuse. Unfortunately, “abuse” can involve a lot more…

  • Physical Abuse
    Physical abuse is any use of physical force that causes bodily injury, physical pain, or any type of physical impairment. For those in nursing homes, this type of abuse could include the use of unauthorized or inappropriate sedative drugs, physical restraints, or force-feeding.
  • Sexual Abuse
    Sexual abuse is the non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with an elderly individual. This includes those who are unable to provide consent as well. This is especially important for those who may have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Emotional or Psychological Abuse
    This type of abuse generally involves the infliction of pain, distress, or mental anguish. It can be through either verbal or nonverbal acts. It could include actions like threats, intimidation, harassment, or embarrassment.
  • Abandonment
    If an elderly individual is left alone and uncared for by another person who has assumed the role of caretaker, then they are likely suffering from a form of abuse called abandonment.
  • Neglect
    Like abandonment, if the caretaker refuses to fulfill their obligations as the responsible person for an elderly individual, then they may be engaging in neglect. This can also include the failure to pay for certain services for the elderly individual, such as water, heat, or rent. Click here for more information about elder abuse and neglect.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse occurs when someone else uses an elderly person’s funds, assets, or other property for their own personal gain or for the gain of someone other than the elderly individual. You can read more about types of elder abuse here.

What is Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse is difficult to recognize because it does not have physical signs or symptoms like other forms of elder abuse. You have to keep a close eye on the elderly person’s funds to determine if financial abuse is occurring.

Types of financial abuse can include:

  • Using credit cards, checks, or cash as if they were your own
  • Stealing cash, income checks (pension, Social Security, etc.), or personal items
  • Stealing the elderly person’s identity by using their name, birthday, and Social Security number (particularly to obtain credit)
  • Forging the elderly person’s signature
  • Tricking the elderly person into “investment opportunities” or to donate to a fake charity

In nursing homes, elderly people often rely heavily on their caretakers. These caretakers may even pay the individual’s regular expenses for them.

Even if a caretaker does not do this directly, it is fairly easy to find financial information and take advantage of an elderly person who may not have the capacity to watch their own finances any longer.

Signs of Financial Abuse

Although financial abuse can occur in nursing homes from the actions of strangers, it is far more likely that an elderly person will be taken advantage of by someone that they trusted—like family or friends.

Relatives may not even realize what they are doing is considered a form of financial abuse. You can protect your loved one by looking for signs of financial abuse.

Ask the following questions:

  • Do these signatures look like my loved one’s signatures?
  • Would my loved one have normally spent money on this item?
  • Why are these bills still unpaid?
  • Where are these funds transfers going?
  • Why is my loved one taking out large amounts of cash from their account?
  • Have any names been added to my loved one’s account?

Keep a close eye on usual changes such as unexplained disappearance of valuables or funds. This may require that you gain access to your loved one’s accounts to monitor money as it goes in and out.

If a will or other financial document changes, then this could also be a sign of fraud or financial abuse.

Legal Implications of Financial Abuse—Why You Should Contact a Port St. Lucie Personal Injury Attorney

If you discover that a loved one is the victim of financial abuse, do not just sit there—do something! Financial abuse is a crime. It could involve charges, such as:

  • Forgery
  • Embezzlement
  • False instruments
  • Financial exploitation
  • Identity theft
  • Larceny
  • Fraud

It can also lead to a personal injury case. Often, where there is one type of fraud or abuse, another can be found.

Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Port St. Lucie for more information about your legal options. In some cases, you may be able to recover what was wrongfully taken from your loved one.

Do not let someone else take advantage of someone you love. Take the first step toward fighting back and visit a personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie.


Port St. Lucie Personal Injury Attorney

How to Prevent Elder Abuse

In Florida, specific laws govern how patients should be treated while they stay in nursing homes. Florida law establishes very basic patient rights and implements standards that all nursing homes must follow.

These laws are meant to protect those in nursing homes who may not be able to assert their own rights. If a nursing home fails to adhere to these regulations, then that can be cause for a nursing home abuse claim.

Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

An estimated 1,800 deaths occur every year because of elder abuse. Roughly 10% of all seniors experience elder abuse every year, which is an estimated 150,000 people. Most states, including Florida, have enacted laws to help combat elder abuse.

Residents’ Bill of Rights

Florida created a “bill of rights” for nursing home residents. Each resident receives a copy of these rights when they begin their stay at the nursing home. The nursing home is required to treat residents in a way that would not violate the residents’ bill of rights.

Below is a quick summary of these rights. Keep in mind that this is not a complete list, and you may have additional rights beyond this brief summary.

1. Right to civil and religious liberties, including knowledge of available choices and the right to independent personal decision

2. Right to encouragement and assistance from the staff to fully exercise your civil and religious rights

3. Right to private and uncensored communication (unopened mail, access to a telephone, etc.)

4. Right to have visitors of your choosing and access to representatives of community-based legal, social, mental health, and leisure programs, and clergy

5. Right to have state and local representatives provide services to you

6. Right to present grievances to the staff or facility administrator, governmental officials, or any other person

7. Right to participate in resident group activities

8. Right to participate in social, religious, and community activities that do not interfere with the rights of others

9. Right to examine the most recent facility inspection information

10. Right to manage your own financial affairs or to delegate that task to someone of your choosing (the facility cannot require you to deposit personal funds with them)

11. Right to be adequately informed of your medical condition and treatments

12. Right to be fully informed of the costs of the nursing home, amenities, and services available either before your stay or at the beginning of your stay

13. Right to refuse medication or treatment

14. Right to receive adequate healthcare and protection and support services

15. Right to have privacy in the facility

16. Right to be treated with respect—courteously, fairly, and with the fullest measure of dignity

17. Right to be free from mental and physical abuse, corporal punishment, extended involuntary seclusion, and physical and chemical restraints (except when authorized by a doctor for a limited purpose and period of time)

18. Right to be transferred from the nursing home only for medical reasons or for the safety of the other residents, and given reasonable notice of the transfer

19. Right to freedom of choice in a physician and pharmacy

20. Right to keep personal items as space permits

Related Link : Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Staff Requirements

In addition to meeting all of the requirements in the residents’ bill of rights, nursing homes are required to have experienced staff and qualified healthcare practitioners.

For example, there are educational guidelines that must be met to work in a nursing home as a nursing assistant or healthcare practitioner.

Florida law requires that there be at least one dietitian, one nurse, and one physician available at the nursing home at all times. All staff members are also required to complete a comprehensive criminal background check.

Getting Help

A violation of any of the requirements listed in the residents’ bill of rights could be a form of elder abuse. Report elder abuse by calling the Elder Abuse Hotline (available 24 hours a day) at 1-800-96-AB– USE (1-800-962-2873).

If you suspect that a loved one is or has been the victim of elder abuse in the West Palm Beach area, you may have a personal injury claim.

The law team at Fetterman & Associates, PA would be happy to look over your case to discuss your legal rights with you. Call 561-845-2510 for a free case evaluation today.

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How to Spot Nursing Home Abuse

It’s always difficult when families are required to put an elderly loved one into a nursing home. Not only is the decision itself difficult, but finding the right nursing home is also difficult. There are many features that homes have to offer, but the most important feature is finding a home that takes care of their patients thoroughly.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Unfortunately, there are many cases where loved ones are abused or neglected under the care of a nursing home. It happens more often than what many believe. Abuse does not necessarily have to mean physical—it can be emotional and mental.

There are many different kinds of nursing home abuse that the elderly can endure, so it is important to pay attention and know how to recognize the early signs.


If you enter a nursing home and there are apparent signs of poor hygiene, such as cleanliness and odor, this may be a sign of neglect. Many patients in a nursing home require assistance doing basic things such as using the facilities or bathing. Because accidents do occasionally occur, it is important that the facility is maintained and kept clean.

Your elderly loved ones should always have a staff member available if they need assistance. If you notice any strange smells or regularly soiled clothing and linens, contact the facility administrator immediately.

The Residents

How to Spot Nursing Home AbuseFamily members should pay attention to what the patients have to say regardless of their mental state, particularly regarding basic needs such as hunger or thirst. Any signs of malnourishment could indicate neglect. Make sure there the staff is regularly checking in on them and making sure they have everything they need. Elderly folk may have memory issues or be battling cases such as dementia, but listening to what they have to say is important.

While physical abuse is less common, it does still occur on occasion. Pay attention to any injuries your loved one may sustain while in the care of the facility. If they have sustained odd injuries such as broken bones, hair loss, bruises, abrasions or more, this may be a sign that they are being physically abused.

The Staff

While the staff may always seem friendly when speaking to you or your family, pay attention to how they speak to other staff members or patients. Their tones should always be kind and they should retain a friendly and professional demeanor at all times. In addition, a staff member should never deny family members the right to see their elderly loved ones.

Some other apparent signs of abuse might include the refusal to allow a patient to leave; this can be done by removing their wheelchair assistance or holding them in a particular area.

Nursing Home abuse Attorneys Florida

Nursing home abuse is unacceptable, yet all too common. No family should have to fight nursing home abuse alone. If you suspect or think there is abuse occurring at a particular nursing home with a loved one involved, contact us online or call 561-845-2510 for a free initial case evaluation, or to learn more and find out how we can help.

Experienced legal professionals at Fetterman & Associates can help you get the assistance you need to ensure that your loved one is protected and that your family receives the proper settlement for any pain or suffering.

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