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Nursing home residents face financial abuse

Nursing home residents are often able to fund their stay at care facilities through trusts and other accounts that provide periodic payments to the homes. These nursing homes, including those in Chicago, often manage the trusts and accounts that are needed to pay for everyday expenses. An increasing number of investigations show that these facilities may be guilty of nursing home abuse by mismanaging their patients' financial resources. Although we often think of nursing home abuse in terms of physical injuries, these facilities can also cause financial harm to those entrusted to their care.

A recent review of Arizona nursing home facilities, for example, shows that more than two dozen facilities received citations since 2010 because of financial mismanagement. In many cases, residents were not permitted to access their own money. Many of those violations occurred during late hours or on weekends. Still other homes failed to appropriately deposit money into interest-bearing accounts. They are also accused of neglecting to provide residents with financial statements. At least one nursing home permitted a resident with mental deficiencies to write large checks to grandchildren, even though those relatives did not have legitimate power of attorney.

One of the most serious cases involved a nursing home worker who was convicted of felony theft charges for stealing more than $200,000 from residents' trust accounts. That man was convicted in 2008, and the thefts occurred about a decade ago. Even though that nursing home has not been cited for violations in several years, it is possible that a similar theft could happen elsewhere. State officials say that safeguards exist to protect residents' funds, and financial exploitation is generally more common among family members than residential care facilities.

Relatives who believe that their elderly family members may have been abused by the administrators or staff at their nursing home can consider pursuing civil action against the facility. Those victims deserve remuneration for their physical or financial abuse.

Source: www.azcentral.com, "Care homes' handling of funds faulted" Ken Alltucker, Oct. 17, 2013 

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