Financial abuse of nursing home patients, also referred to as financial exploitation, occurs when someone illegally or improperly uses an elderly person’s funds, assets or property. In some cases, this is a nursing home employee. In other instances, it involves a person from whom the nursing home had a duty to protect the patient.
It’s well-established that nursing home residents are in a unique and vulnerable position to be victims of financial abuse. They may have considerable assets, but they are often especially vulnerable to deception. Residents are often not even aware that the financial exploitation is taking place. That’s why there is so seldom accountability.
One exception to this occurred recently in Missouri, where local news outlets reported a nursing home employee was sentenced to 10 years in prison for financial abuse that included stealing Medicaid checks and other property.
The 41-year-old defendant reportedly received 10 years for receiving stolen property and another 7 years for financial abuse of Medicaid patients. Those two sentences are to be served concurrently, so the defendant will serve a total of 10 years, rather than 17. In addition, she has been ordered to pay restitution to her victims in the amount of $45,000, as well as more than $15,000 in court costs. This was after she pleaded guilty to three felony charges.
Defendant was employed at the business office of a nursing home for two years, and was responsible for managing accounts that held residents’ funds in a trust. She reportedly siphoned off nearly $45,000 of that money for her own financial gain. She did not have the consent of residents or her family members to do this. All the victims in the case were both elderly and incapacitated.
The National Adult Protective Services Association reports elder financial exploitation is one of the fastest-growing types of abuse involving seniors and those with disabilities. The agency estimated 1 in 20 older adults were financially exploited or mistreated at some point in the recent past.
Our Orlando nursing home abuse attorneys know elder abuse in general is extremely under-reported, and when it comes to financial abuse, the agency indicated only 1 in 44 cases is ever reported. Although 9 in 10 perpetrators of this abuse are family members or others who are closely trusted, it’s not uncommon for nursing home employees to engage in this type of activity too. Further, nursing home administrators and staff need to be trained in how to recognize this type of abuse and mistreatment, and on how to intervene when necessary. Failure to do so can be grounds for liability as well.
Some examples of financial abuse involving nursing home residents include:
- Forging a resident’s signature;
- Cashing a resident’s check without permission or authorization;
- Transferring funds from a resident’s personal account without the resident’s or family’s consent;
- Tricking or coercing a resident to sign documents (i.e., a contract or will);
- Stealing resident’s possessions or money.
The National Committee on the Prevention of Elder Abuse reported in one study that the estimated cost of financial elder abuse is roughly $2.6 billion every year. It’s likely we will see even higher figures in the future, given the fact that advancing technology and the increase in the aging populace makes this type of abuse easier to carry out and tougher to detect.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Former Carthage nursing home employee sentenced to 17 years, Dec. 12, 2017, Fox 5 News
More Blog Entries:
Florida Lawmakers Push for Nursing Home Reform, Jan. 3, 2017, Florida Elder Financial Abuse Attorney Blog