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Preventing the financial exploitation of the elderly

When a person is elderly and can no longer live independently, it means that he or she can be particularly vulnerable to different types of exploitation and abuse. This means that family members and loved ones should be alert and prepare to notice signs of abuse, especially if their loved one resides in a nursing home. Nursing homes should be safe environments where a person is cared for and protected in the more vulnerable later years of his or her life. However, there have been cases of people using their access to a nursing home to take advantage of elderly people and exploit them financially.

Each state has a set of laws and guidelines regarding how financial exploitation of the elderly is defined. There is an agency, the Adult Protective Services, that is dedicated to investigating these reports of such exploitation. They rely, however, on health care professionals or other people in close contact with the affected elderly person to make a report.

Common warning signs

It might not be easy for a person to spot that an elderly person in a nursing home has become a victim to financial exploitation. Therefore, it is important to be aware of some key red flags. If a nursing home resident reports that any type of financial document, credit card or checkbook is missing, concern should be raised. Similarly, if a resident appears to be distraught after visiting family, or suddenly becomes withdrawn or secretive, then it should not go ignored.

There are many protections in place to prevent the financial exploitation of elderly nursing home residents; however, suspicions must be raised in order for action to be taken.

Source: Consumer finance.gov, "Protecting the elderly from financial exploitation," accessed Oct. 18, 2017

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