Caregiver theft is the misuse of a senior’s money and possessions for personal gain that causes harm to the senior. It can include:
- Stealing money, property, or valuables
- Borrowing money and not paying it back
- Giving away or selling the senior’s possessions
- Using ATM or credit cards without permission.
Caregivers are often in a position of trust and have access to financial information. They gain the trust of the senior to encourage emotional and physical dependency. The senior may have a close bond with the caregiver and be unaware of the abuse. The senior may also be afraid of being alone or being placed in a nursing home if the caregiver is removed. Dishonest caregivers will promote a fear and distrust of others. Isolation of the senior is often the key to success in caregiver theft.
Intelligence is not a factor in vulnerability to undue influence by a caregiver. However if a senior is declining in physical or mental capacity, he or she may be more easily taken advantage of because of a lack of confidence in his or her own memory perceptions.
To protect yourself:
- Remove or store securely all valuables and financial information
- Do a background check of caregivers in multiple jurisdictions
- Retain responsibility for financial activities such as paying bills
- Keep financial oversight of bank and credit card statements.