Steps to help avoid financial abuse and theft

Usually family members look at getting help in the home after some sort of medical crisis. Mom has fallen, dad is hospitalized, there is loss of cognition etc.  The family is overwhelmed with so many details to think about and arrange.  How is mom getting to the doctor or even out of bed, fed, bathed.  It is helpful for the family to contact a homecare company such as Thrive at Home in Fairfax, Virginia who provide help in the home.  This can be a tremendous help but that means that there will be strangers coming in and out of the house.  There are other  services that might be called upon e.g. DME, housekeeping. There will be friends and family stopping by too.  It is time to think about the security of valuables in the house.   This should be done not only because of concern that items will go missing but mainly to protect the people coming into the house from being accused if anything does go missing.  There are times when an elderly person might forget where e.g. a ring was placed. It doesn’t take too long before the caregiver is accused of theft. Most caregivers are well aware of this.  They try to  careful  to not put themselves in a position where they might be accused of something.  It is therefore the responsibility of the family to identify, inventory and secure the valuables before there is a problem.

The best case scenario would be to get them out of the house completely into, foe example,  a safe deposit box at the bank   They can also be locked in a safe or lockbox inside the home.   If there are cognitive issues then the family should look at giving over financial responsibility to a trusted third party adviser or family member.  The bills, checks, bank statements and bills should be mailed directly to that persons address.   In the very unlikely even that there actually is a theft it is vital the correct steps be taken to,  in the very least,  protect others.  There are unfortunately some people in the world who take advantage of others. It is our responsibility to try and prevent that from happening.  Without a conviction and a police record there is nothing to prevent that same person from moving on to another family and continue their predatory ways.   The police should be called and the person investigated.

Most home care companies go to great lengths to ensure that this doesn’t happen.  Credit checks and  criminal background checks will  show if there has been  a problem.  Knowing that these checks will be run – it is rare to ever even get  even an applicant apply.   The second defense is the personal interviews and  reference checking.  The third line of defense for  Thrive at Home  is the fact that we are fortunate that most people applying come to us from word of mouth.   The current caregiver is in effect vouching for their friends behavior and honesty.  This is no guarantee but we have been fortunate at never having to face this issue.