Caregiver... Or Taker? Prevent Elder Abuse
A caregiver, or caretaker, is just that – a human being who is hired to provide guidance and care for another human being. Most of the time, these professional caregivers are extremely generous and loving individuals who find their gifts aligned with those required for nannies, healthcare aides, nursing assistants, or in-home caregivers for the elderly or disabled. Unfortunately, there are the occasional “wolves in sheep’s’ clothing”, those who take much more than they give from their clients and their clients’ families. It's called elder abuse.
Worried About Elder Abuse or Negligent Acts at the Hands of a Hired Caregiver?
In the case of a caregiver hired to assist a loved one who lives close to you, the abuse or neglect is often easier to detect because you have your eye on the situation. In fact, those who prey on vulnerable victims are less likely to take an assignment if family, trustees, or family friends are closely involved in the prospective client’s life.
If you live further away from your loved one, however, it can be more difficult to tell whether the caregiver is truly taking advantage of the situation or if you are imagining things. This is when the assistance of a licensed professional can be a major advantage.
Signs That a Caregiver is More of a Taker
Some signs that indicate a caregiver is actually taking from your loved one include :
- Decreased or non-existent communication. One of the first things a seasoned con will do is to isolate a victim from their family and friends. This is very easy to do, especially if the victim is mentally unsound, fragile, or suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. The taker will create stories and lies that turn the victim’s trust away from their families and toward the predator – often giving the caregiver signing rights on bank accounts, handing them cash, or “trusting” the caregiver to take care of valuable jewels or belongings.
- Unfounded anger or hostility. This is another typical side effect of dementia or Alzheimer’s, which works to the con’s advantage. In the course of isolating their victim and lying about things said or actions taken (all of which are false), your loved one may become unusually distant, hostile, or angry at you, while being increasingly more affectionate and complimentary of the caregiver. You – or even your loved one's doctors – may be apt to waive off suspicions, feeling like this type of behavior is typical, but we always advocate that you should trust your gut instincts.
- Complaints of financial hardships when there shouldn’t be any. In most cases, if your family has hired a caregiver to take care of a loved one, there are also enough funds to cover basic living expenses and needs of the individual being cared for. If you notice that funds seem lower than they should be, if there are more expenses going out than in, or if the individual is complaining about bounced checks or unpaid bills, then you need to investigate further.
What to Do if You Suspect Financial or Other Caregiver Abuses
The first reaction for most people who suspect some type of abuse by a caregiver is to call the police and/or social services. This is rarely an effective solution because these entities – although well-meaning – are overburdened and can only do the bare minimum to investigate.
A licensed private investigator can provide a myriad of investigative services that can help you get to the bottom of things. These services include :
Caregiver checks and surveillance services. Using surveillance and/or random caregiver check-ins, we can be a regular presence – but unscheduled, so they aren’t tipped off. We can check in on your loved one and make contact with the caregiver so they realize someone is watching. We can also perform covert surveillance – so caregivers aren’t aware they are being watched. This can uncover events such as unknown persons entering/leaving the premises, parties or other get-togethers, valuables walking out the door, or further strange happenings that indicate unprofessionalism or corruption on the part of the caregiver.
Background checks. A background check is best done as part of the pre-employment screening process before hiring a caregiver, but it can also be of benefit in mid-stream. The worst-case scenario means finding out the caregiver has a previous criminal record or isn’t who he or she said they were in the first place. Even this is a “better-case scenario,” because it gives you the evidence and information you need to take action and protect your loved one.
Asset searches. An asset search is a specific facet of a background check that can be helpful in determining whether or not financial abuse is taking place. In addition to tapping into the pulse of your loved one’s financial well-being, you’ll be able to see if any new credit lines have been taken out in his or her name – that are now being used by the criminal caregiver.
Do you suspect your loved one may be the victim of more “taking” than “giving” at the hands of his or her caregiver? If so, please call Linked Investigations at 714-432-9911 or contact us online. We provide free consultations and will help you come up with a plan to find out the truth, so you can take whatever actions are necessary to resolve the issue.