Financial abuse in long-term care facilities has wide-reaching consequences. The resident, their facility, and the broader community are all faced with the effects. Still, it’s important to remember that the resident is most at risk when it comes to their economic security. Depending on the situation, they could even be at risk of involuntary discharge or loss of housing for nonpayment.
If your loved one has been the victim of financial abuse in their nursing home, an Illinois nursing home financial exploitation lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can help. Our attorneys are well-versed in nursing home laws and regulations, and we’re prepared to help you take legal action to hold the negligent facility or employee accountable for your loved one’s losses.
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Financial Exploitation in Nursing Homes
According to the National Council on Aging, elder financial abuse and fraud cost older Americans over $36 billion per year. Report rates, however, are significantly lower than reports for physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. People who try to take advantage of nursing home residents may take money without permission, fail to repay the money they owe, or charge too much for services.
While anyone can be subject to financial exploitation, older individuals are more at risk because potential cognitive impairments can make it harder to make financial decisions and detect fraud or scams. Examples of financial abuse include the following:
- Unusual or sudden changes in spending habits
- Unexplained changes made to a will or other financial document
- Unpaid bills
- Fraudulent signature on financial documents
If you are worried your loved one’s nursing home is taking advantage of them and stealing their money or misusing funds, it’s important to know how to spot potential financial exploitation and know what to do to protect your loved one.
Signs of Financial Exploitation
There are a number of red flags to be on the lookout for if you suspect your loved one’s money or valuables are being stolen. First, be aware if your loved one reports a missing checkbook or credit card or complains about someone misusing their property. Depending on your loved one’s cognitive status, they may not be able to communicate to you that something is wrong, so take notice if they seem to be distraught or become secretive and start hiding possessions.
In addition to speaking with your loved one and noting their behavior and actions, take a look around their room or apartment. Be on the lookout for missing or replaced possessions, easily accessible blank deposit or withdrawal slips, and missing or unaccounted for medication.
When it comes to potential billing issues with the nursing home, double-check any unpaid facility or pharmacy bills before paying them to ensure they are valid. If new or repeated changes appear in statements, also make sure they are accurate. It’s also a good idea to avoid paying any bills in cash, as cash cannot be traced.
How Illinois Protects Elders From Financial Abuse
Nursing home residents have protected rights at the state and federal levels. In the event your loved one is taken advantage of and has possession or money stolen by their facility or an employee, you can take legal action to recover the losses and hold the nursing home accountable.
In Illinois, the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act outlines mandatory requirements for nursing homes. In terms of money, residents can manage their own financial affairs unless under guardianship, have adequate, secure personal storage for valuable items, and have their funds protected by their long-term care facility.
Adult Protective Services (APS) is primarily responsible for investigating reports of suspected elder financial abuse. Nursing home facilities are required to report suspected abuse, neglect, and exploitation to the applicable public authorities. If they fail to do so, legal action is taken, and the facility will be fined.
In addition to APS, exploitation can be reported to law enforcement, as it violates a number of criminal crimes. For example, an alleged perpetrator could be charged with theft, robbery, embezzlement, forgery, fraud, or money laundering.
At the federal level, nursing homes receive at least $10,000 in funds each year to report suspected crimes against residents to state survey agencies and local law enforcement. More specifically, nursing home owners, operators, employees, managers, agents, or contractors have to report suspicious events or behavior. If you think your loved one’s state or federal rights as a nursing home resident have been violated, it’s time to get in touch with a reliable law firm.
Contact Thomas Law Offices
If you believe your loved one has had property or money stolen from them in their nursing home, you can seek help from an Illinois nursing home financial exploitation lawyer from Thomas Law Offices. We’re prepared to evaluate the situation, conduct a thorough investigation, and determine if there are grounds for a claim. Contact us today to learn more.