Reports of nursing home abuse and neglect have been increasing at startling rates in recent years throughout the United States. While much of this increase has been attributed to cuts that have been made to Medicaid and Medicare, not all abuse can be linked to these reductions. An equally debilitating type of nursing home abuse that is unrelated to budget cuts is financial exploitation of the elderly. This abuse damages not only the victim, but it often times it also harms the victim’s family members and their ability to afford this elderly care. Our Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys have many years of experience handling these types of cases and we consistently obtain the largest possible compensation for our clients.
Nursing home abuse and neglect arises in a variety of troubling ways. Within the realm of nursing home abuse, there is mental, physical, and sexual abuse. Physical and sexual abuse is generally easier to detect because it often manifests physically identifying symptoms. Mental abuse can be more difficult for victim’s family members or even nursing home staff to identify. However, changes in attitude and demeanor can suggest the possibility of such abuse. Nursing home neglect is another type of abuse that frequently occurs to elderly patients of care facilities. This neglect manifests in a purposeful or unintentional failure to satisfy the needs of an elderly patient.
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Another type of nursing home abuse is that of financial exploitation. Financial exploitation is essentially the improper usage of an elderly patient’s monetary funds without the owner’s permission or through means of deception. Financial exploitation can occur at many different level of severity ranging from the simple theft of an elderly patient’s pocket change or their personal belongings all the way to illegally accessing their bank accounts and wills. A very common form of financial exploitation is the cashing of elderly residents’ welfare and social security checks.
The reason this type of nursing home abuse can occur is because the elderly victims are often not of sound mind. Nearly 40% of all nursing home residents are suffering from the incurable Alzheimer’s disease. And nearly 50% of all nursing home residents likely have some form of dementia, Alzheimer’s being the most prevalent one. These debilitating diseases are usually the reason elderly individuals have been placed by their loved ones in nursing homes and elderly care facilities. The danger being that the prevalence of mental disorders is known to many at these facilities, including those that would commit financial exploitation. As a result, these elderly nursing home residents can be completely helpless to predators seeking to steal from them.
This nursing home abuse can be perpetrated upon the elderly victims by many different parties. Sadly, the most common perpetrator of financial exploitation of elderly residents of nursing homes is a family member of the victim. Nursing home staff members have also been found to have committed financial exploitation. Lastly, even other elderly nursing home residents have perpetrated financial exploitation against their fellow residents.
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While it can be difficult to discover this financial exploitation, there are some cues that should alert family members of the victim that it is occurring. For one, if an elderly person has been placed in a nursing home, especially because of mental reasons, they should not be in control of their finances. Instead, a family member, an attorney, or an independent third party should be controlling the finances. This will debilitate most efforts to steal a resident’s money. With that said, the most common signs that financial exploitation is occurring are large amounts of checks being made to cash. Another common sign is any recent changes in one’s deeds, wills, or trusts. However, detecting document changes can be difficult, as often times family members only have access to these documents after the owner is deceased.
So if you or a family member has suffered any type of nursing home abuse or neglect, please contact an attorney immediately to reclaim the compensation you deserve.