Family concerns about nursing home abuse often focus primarily on risks associated with physical, emotional or sexual abuse. People don’t worry as much about financial abuse, often because they don’t realize how serious or common this kind of abuse actually is.

People caring for your loved one in a nursing home facility have a position of authority that they could abuse for their own financial gain in a number of ways that could harm your loved one.

Some staff members steal from their charges

The most obvious and blatant form of financial abuse involves actually taking valuables from someone. In a nursing home, it could be possible for someone to take jewelry or other items that have both financial and emotional value for your loved one and then sell that item for financial gain. If your loved one receives a cash stipend or has always carried cash, it is also possible for staff members to take money directly from your loved one.

Some staff members could commit financial fraud

In a slightly more roundabout way of stealing directly from your loved one, some nursing home workers might take credit cards, debit cards or checkbooks out of your loved one’s possession and use them for themselves.

They might write themselves a check for hundreds of dollars or go on a spending spree, racking up charges that your loved one has no way to pay. It’s even possible that your loved one may have written a check to a worker to reimburse them for some special effort, only to have that worker alter the check and make it for a much higher amount.

Manipulative financial abuse may not be obvious until your loved one dies

The people who provide care for your loved one will build a relationship with them over time. Some people will abuse and leverage that relationship for personal gain. The caretaker might act very attentive and affectionate toward your loved one while simultaneously telling a sad story about how hard their life has been. The goal here is to get your loved one to add this individual to their last will, likely at the expense of other people or even a charity.

Financial abuse is a serious offense, and if you suspect it, you should investigate and advise the facility of what has happened. If they don’t take adequate action, you may need to take legal steps to protect your loved one and others who could also be targeted in the same facility.