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How does elder financial abuse happen?

Stories of nursing home abuse both in Kansas City and throughout the rest of the country may have you on the lookout for bruises, scars or any other indicators that your loved one could be experiencing such treatment at his or her facility. Unfortunately, not all forms of elder abuse leave visible marks. Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in the financial exploitation of the elderly, both by those close to them and their caretakers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that an estimated $2.9 billion was stolen from the elderly in 2010 alone (although experts believe those numbers are actually much higher, as many of these cases go unreported). 

You might wonder how a caretaker at a nursing home can get access to your family member or friend's finances. He or she is likely there because you or others are unable to dedicate the time needed to care for him or her. This reliance on others makes him or her ripe for exploitation. In some cases, caretakers may steal money, checks or credit cards from purses or wallets, or valuable items from amongst a residents' possessions. They may also use their position to influence residents into making financial decisions that benefit them, such as offering them access to bank accounts, applying for loans or credit cards or even signing over power of attorney. 

If this is happening, it is going on in secret. Your loved may not even know (and may be unlikely to tell you even if he or she does). Therefore, you must watch for clues such as: 

  • Unexplained withdrawals on bank statements
  • Unpaid medical bills or consumer accounts
  • Missing personal items or currency 

Your loved one becoming withdrawn in conjunction with the aforementioned indicators may serve as further proof that exploitation is indeed happening. 

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