If you have a loved one in a nursing home facility, you’re likely aware of the guardianship program.
What you may not be aware of is a form of Broward nursing home abuse that involves financial exploitation by those designated to look after your elderly relative.
Our Broward nursing home abuse attorneys know that in a lot of cases, it’s a relative or close friend who takes over legal guardianship of an individual who is no longer capable of handling their own affairs, usually due to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or some similar ailment.
However, in some cases, the court will appoint an outsider who might be a professional, such as a home health aide or paid caregiver, to handle the elderly person’s daily finances.
While the majority of these individuals likely have altruistic motives of simply wanting to help, that’s sadly not always the case.
In fact, there have been more than 800 reports of elderly exploitation in Broward over the last year and nearly 650 in Palm Beach County. For both, that was an increase of nearly 15 percent, according to a recent report by The Sun-Sentinel.
With about 2,700 elderly guardianships in Palm Beach County alone, that’s a pretty significant opportunity for potential fraud, especially given that our 85-and-over population is rapidly expanding.
While family members may wish to press criminal sanctions against individuals who take advantage of their elderly relative, if the losses are significant or if the perpetrator worked for an agency that you trusted to care for your loved one, his or her estate may be entitled to some form of compensation by the company who employed that person.
Part of catching senior exploitation, however, is knowing what you should look for.
Essentially, financial exploitation of an elderly person is defined as the wrongful use of someone else’s property or finances by someone else.
Some indications that your loved one may be suffering financial exploitation by their Broward nursing home caregivers:
–Sudden or unexplained changes in the older relative’s bank account;
–The addition of other names on the elder’s bank account;
–Unauthorized withdrawals from their account from their ATM;
–Odd or abrupt changes to your loved one’s will or other legal or financial documents;
–Bills that are not paid, despite the fact that your loved one should have plenty of money;
–Signatures that appear forged on financial titles or transactions that seem suspicious;
–Unexplained transfers of certain assets;
–Expensive items, purchased without the consent of the elder;
–Isolation of the elder person (lack of attendance at activities they once enjoyed or difficulty reaching them by phone).
The state has an abuse hotline, as does Palm Beach County. However, if you should also contact an attorney as soon as possible to explore your legal options.
If you or a loved one have suffered from financial exploitation or nursing home abuse in Broward, West Palm Beach or the surrounding areas, contact the Law Offices of Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez for legal assistance. 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Senior Exploitation: How to spot financial elder abuse, By Diane C Lade, Sun Sentinel