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Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes

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Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes

Financial AbuseThere are many ways a nursing home resident can suffer from abuse. You are probably aware of neglect and physical abuse in nursing homes because these frequently leave residents with obvious physical symptoms of mistreatment. There are other forms of abuse that can occur in nursing homes, though, and these can be just as harmful to victims as physical abuse and neglect. One of these forms is financial abuse, which is the unauthorized use of a resident’s money or identity. Financial abuse can put a nursing home resident into steep debt and compromise his or her ability to continue to receive the care he or she needs. It can also put the victim into a precarious position regarding his or her guardianship.

If you have a loved one who currently resides in a nursing home, make reviewing his or her financial statements part of your regular visits with him or her. If you have power of attorney over his or her finances, consolidate his or her accounts so you can easily check them for suspicious activity and if any discrepancies appear, you can trace them to their sources. Put your loved one’s valuables into a safe deposit box, rather than sending them to the nursing home with him or her. If your loved one does become a victim of financial exploitation, speak with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer about taking steps to recover the money. Nursing home abuse claims fall under the legal umbrella of medical malpractice.

Examples of Financial Abuse that Can Occur in Nursing Homes

The following are all ways a nursing home resident can suffer from financial exploitation:

  • Identity theft;
  • Direct theft of cash or valuables;
  • Cashing a resident’s checks without his or her consent;
  • Involving a resident in a scam, such as an investment scam or a pyramid scheme;
  • Coercing a resident into signing documents he or she does not fully understand, such as contracts and wills; and
  • Coercing a victim into transferring assets without fully understanding the consequences of these transactions.
How is Financial Abuse Different from Other Types of Nursing Home Abuse?

Financial abuse does not cause a victim to suffer immediate, obvious symptoms like a change in personality or bruises, and scars. In many cases, nursing home residents are exploited financially without their knowledge. In others, they are afraid to report cases of financial abuse because they are too intimidated or too embarrassed to admit that they were victimized.

Financial exploitation can also go undetected for years. It can also impact its victim’s beneficiaries and other loved ones by destroying the victim’s asset pool and potentially saddling his or her estate with large debts.

Effects of Financial Abuse on a Victim

Although a victim might not show immediate signs of emotional trauma following financial abuse, he or she can be traumatized after being told about the abuse or if the financial abuse occurs in tandem with another type of mistreatment. For example, a nursing home resident might be manipulated into giving money or control of his or her finances to a caregiver. In a case like this, the victim has suffered both psychological and financial abuse.

Long-term effects of financial abuse can include a worsened health condition if the victim cannot access the health care services he or she needs.

What to Do if you Suspect your Loved One is Suffering from Financial Abuse

How to handle a case of potential financial abuse depends on how your loved one’s identity or assets were misused. Contact our experienced elder abuse lawyer as soon as you suspect that financial exploitation has occurred to discuss what you need to do based on the type of abuse that occurred. You will need to demonstrate that your loved one was manipulated into complying with a financial scam or that he or she was a victim of outright theft, rather than that he or she made a competent decision to spend his or her money.

Fraudulent Purchases

If you are facing a case of a loan or account opened in your loved one’s name without his or her consent, contact the bank or credit lender to have it closed. If you are facing fraudulent purchases made on your loved one’s credit card, close the account immediately, and report that the charges were made fraudulently. For stolen cash or valuables, you may need to open a criminal investigation for theft. Contact local law enforcement to report your claim. You may need to file a lawsuit to recover the money your loved one lost to the exploitation.


If you are facing a case of coercion regarding a contract, will, or guardianship, discuss the document with your lawyer to determine if it can be voided. If your loved one does not have the capacity to sign such a document, you may be able to undo the action with help from an experienced lawyer. To prevent further exploitation, examine your loved one’s guardianship and power of attorney documents thoroughly to determine if changes can be made to protect him or her better.

Financial abuse can be more complicated than other types of abuse. Because of this, it is important that you work with a lawyer who has specific experience pursuing financial abuse claims who can advise you according to the specific details of your case.

Work with an Experienced California Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Although it does not leave obvious marks, financial abuse can be as harmful to an individual as other types of nursing home abuse. If you suspect your loved one is suffering from financial abuse at the hands of his or her caregivers, speak to the facility’s staff about what you observed and work with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to file and pursue a nursing home abuse claim. Contact my office, The Edward A Smith Law Offices, today to set up our initial consultation. I can answer your questions and advise you about the next steps to take with your claim.

Sacramento Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento nursing home abuse lawyer. If you or a loved one has suffered negligence and/or abuse in a nursing home setting, please give me a call at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400 for free, friendly, and no-obligation advice.

We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 9.14.20]

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