Elder abuse comes in many forms. The most obvious is physical abuse which may leave behind bruises or even broken bones. Verbal and emotional abuse may occur at the same time as physical abuse or may start before people become physically violent.
Financial abuse is another concern. Older adults in nursing home facilities are at risk for financial abuse. Employees at the facility where they live may resent their job responsibilities and the demands of the residents. They may take those frustrations out on the people for whom they should provide care.
What does financial abuse in a nursing home often look like?
The theft of money or resources
If your loved one receives cash to spend on themselves every month, an abusive staff member at the nursing home might start depriving them of that money by physically taking it from them or sneaking into the room while they sleep at night to steal it.
Jewelry, collectibles and any items with financial value could catch the eye of employees. Theft from residents is a common form of financial abuse in nursing homes.
The misappropriation or misuse of resources
Outright stealing is too blatant for some people. They worry about getting caught or have some misguided sense of ethics that prevents them from actually taking something that belongs to another person.
What they may do instead is use a resident’s credit card, debit card or checkbook for personal purposes. They could either steal the checkbook or card to use for personal purchases and then return it to the resident’s room or go shopping on behalf of the resident and add a few personal items to each transaction.
Coercion and manipulation
The subtlest form of financial abuse involves someone attempting a long con. They attempt to develop a positive rapport with a resident at the facility. They act as a surrogate family member, providing not just physical support but also emotional support.
Typically, they will combine their kindness to the older adult with a very sad, possibly fabricated, story about their personal life. They do this in the hopes that a vulnerable older adult in their care might decide to add them to an estate plan or simply start giving them resources. This form of financial abuse is particularly insidious because older adults may not recognize the ulterior motives of the people who should put their needs first.
As someone with a family member and a nursing home, you should keep an eye out not just for bruises but also for signs of financial misconduct. Identifying and fighting back against financial abuse and other forms of nursing home abuse will benefit your loved one who depends on daily support.