As the baby boomer generation eases into retirement and elderly age, the number of persons over the age of 65 continues to increase. It is projected that by 2020 the number of persons over the age of 65 will grow by more than 14 million.
As of 2009 there were more than 1.3 million adults over the age of 65 living in nursing homes with the majority being over 85 years old. Loved ones will often entrust nursing home workers to protect and take care of their aging relatives, unfortunately that trust can quickly be broken. Along with nursing home abuse and neglect, thievery is an increasing problem.
Recently, the USA Today, analyzed the growing problem of nursing home trust fund thefts and found that since 2010 more than 100 nursing home employees have been prosecuted for stealing residents’ trust funds.
A nursing home trust fund works similarly to a conventional bank account. Nursing home residents can have their social security, pension checks, and other funds deposited into the fund. From there the account accrues interest and statements are provided. Residents can then use these funds to pay for care and other expenses. Typically the account is run by one of the nursing home administrators.
Unfortunately it is often these administrators, office managers, and bookkeepers that are the ones stealing from residents. Since 2010 state and federal inspectors have issued more than 1,500 citations to nursing homes for mismanagement of funds including the failure to protect funds from theft.
Among the workers prosecuted for stealing, 30% involved thefts of tens of thousands of dollars and at least 10 persons were accused of taking more than $100,000 from residents. In Texas, one woman is being accused of stealing approximately $350,000 over a long period of time.
So why does this happen? Many believe that absence of scrutiny is to blame. Federal laws do not require nursing homes to audit resident trust funds. Inspections tend to focus on the health and safety of residents and will rely on “surveys” to discuss trust funds.
Still, others believe the problem lies in who nursing homes are hiring. In most states background checks for nursing home administrators are not mandatory.
To protect your loved ones from being swindled, check monthly statements carefully and request copies of receipts for purchases made on the resident’s behalf.
If you believe that your loved one’s trust fund is being mismanaged, contact one our nursing home neglect attorneys to determine what your legal rights are at (866) 947-7449.