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How to identify and prevent nursing home abuse and fraud

Aurora, like the rest of Illinois, has a sizable population of elderly residents -- that is, people in their 70s and older. Many of these residents live in nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities so that their particular needs can be addressed more easily and more quickly.

Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is a fact of life in some facilities. To help determine whether it is present in a particular facility and situation, family members as well as potential victims should understand how to identify and prevent such abuse, especially such forms of financial abuse as theft and fraud.

For family members, staying actively involved in the life of the resident of a facility will more easily allow them to notice any unusual credit card or bank activity. Also, an elderly resident's family should be wary of a suspected abuser or an abuser's acquaintances who want to move in with the resident.

Elderly residents should also keep a few things in mind. Never sign any document without reading and understanding what it says, even if it comes from a loved one. Consult a trusted third party or legal professional if necessary. In addition, elderly residents or their families should never provide a Social Security number or credit card or bank account information to a person on the phone. Also, families may want to have replacement checks or new checks delivered to the bank rather than the nursing residence.

It is important to carefully choose caregivers, and make sure caregivers are vouched for by an agency. Keeping an inventory of valuables, especially jewelry can also be important. These items should be kept in a secure place. It may also be helpful to keep photos of rare and valuable items.

Family members and the elderly themselves can perform a self-credit investigation two or three times a year to check for identity theft. If there is evidence of abuse or negligence, it may be helpful to consult a legal professional on what steps to take next.

Source: La Jolla Light, "Experts offer advice on spotting and preventing elder abuse," Pat Sherman, March 25, 2014

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