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Financial Abuse in Arizona Nursing Homes

by on February 4, 2014 » Add the first comment.

Financial abuse in Arizona nursing homes is a common occurrence. Unauthorized bank account withdrawals, forged signatures on deeds or wills, unexplained purchases on a credit card statement — these (among others) are signs of potential financial abuse. And more often than not your elderly loved one will fail to inform you of the abuse he or she is suffering because of fear or embarrassment. It is therefore vitally important that you familiarize yourself with the signs of the kind of financial abuse suffered by Arizona nursing home residents.

Elder Abuse: A Common Problem

Elder abuse in nursing homes happens all too frequently, not just in Arizona but in nursing homes throughout the United States. The elderly are one of the fastest growing segments of the population, representing over 13 percent of Americans. Nationwide, almost half of all nursing home residents have experienced some form of abuse. Such abuse has led to minor injuries in some cases and to death in others.

Unlike physical abuse, which reveals itself in clearly visible signs like unexplained bruises, welts and pressure marks, financial abuse is mostly invisible. The nursing home resident may, however, show some outward signs of discomfort, such as:

  • Mental distress: the resident shows signs of emotional upset or agitation
  • Withdrawal from or suspension of normal activities: the resident refuses to participate in group meals or hobbies
  • Behavior typical of dementia: the resident communicates emotional discomfort through behavioral disorders like rocking, biting or sucking
  • Refusal to allow visitors to see the resident alone: the resident has recently become withdrawn and has taken to denying loved ones permission to visit him or her

It’s likely, however, that any abuse suffered by an elderly loved will manifest itself in subtler ways than those described above. A sudden inability to pay bills or reluctance to share financial information with a trusted caregiver, like a spouse, sibling or child, should alert you to the possibility that a nursing home resident has suffered financial abuse.

Arizona and Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes

The state of Arizona has very specific guidelines for dealing with any type of abuse in nursing homes. This is especially helpful in light of the fact that every year Arizona’s Department of Adult Protective Services receives thousands of phone calls concerning elder abuse of one type or another, including financial abuse. Indeed, financial abuse accounts for nearly 20 percent of all nursing home abuse cases in Arizona. The majority of victims of nursing home abuse in Arizona are females age 75 and over.

Residents of Arizona Nursing Homes: Know Your Rights

The Arizona Department of Health Services helps prevent financial abuse in nursing homes by clearly stating the rights of an Arizona nursing home resident. The Arizona Department of Health lists the following nursing home resident basic rights in their consumer guide to Arizona nursing homes:

  • A nursing home resident must lead a life of dignity and self-determination
  • A nursing home resident has the right to be treated with respect and dignity in full recognition of their individuality
  • A nursing home resident has the right to live a life free from interference, coercion and reprisal

The Arizona Department of Health consumer bulletin also outlines a number of other rights, including freedom from intimidation and punishment by seclusion. Additionally, an Arizona nursing home resident should never be punished, threatened, or face discrimination for exercising his or her rights.

Tips For Avoiding Financial Abuse in Arizona Nursing Homes

There are measure you can take to avoid financial abuse in an Arizona nursing home. To help prevent financial abuse in Arizona nursing homes, local Arizona communities are encouraged to:

  • Ensure that nursing home facilities coordinate their efforts with law enforcement, adult protection, and regulatory and nursing home advocacy groups.
  • Improve work conditions in nursing homes through adequate staffing and enhanced communication between direct care and administrative staff.
  • Implement comprehensive screening of job candidates for criminal backgrounds, histories of substance abuse and domestic violence, and anger- and stress-management best practices.
  • Enforce mandatory reporting of financial abuse.

Are You a Victim of Financial Abuse in an Arizona Nursing Home?

If a resident of an Arizona nursing home suspects that he or she is a victim of financial abuse, he or she has the right to submit his or her complaints to outside representatives without restraint or intimidation. An abused nursing home resident should be able to contact and receive information from client advocates and to have immediate access to organizations and agencies he or she thinks will prove useful to his or her case. Residents of Arizona nursing homes should not be afraid to keep a log of financial abuse suffered while residing in the nursing home, and they should contact the appropriate agencies and individuals as soon as possible, including an attorney trained in nursing home abuse.

A nursing home abuse lawyer can help you navigate the often complex legal system and assist in the filing of a lawsuit seeking compensation for the financial and emotional damage sustained from the abuse. Because they are specially trained in elder law, which requires a close familiarity with the statutes and regulations of nursing home care, elder law attorneys can ensure you receive the advice and guidance necessary to successfully file a lawsuit in the state of Arizona. Only a nursing home abuse lawyer can ensure you receive adequate compensation for the financial abuse suffered in an Arizona nursing home.

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