At the end of the class you will be able to:

  1. Discuss financial abuse.
  2. List the signs of financial abuse.
  3. Detail how to safely manage someone's money, bills and other money matters.


Some home care aides, and others, may be asked to help a patient to take care of their bills and money when they cannot do it anymore without help. These people may pay bills for the person. They may go to the bank and go to the store for them. They may also write checks, send out bills and take care of the person's check book and bank accounts.

Do NOT do any of these things unless your agency asks you to do them. You must be very careful when you are taking care of someone else's money. You must take care of it in the same way that you take care of your own money. Also, you must not touch, handle or manage another person's money and bills unless your boss asks you to do it.


There are many people that steal and take money from people that cannot take care of their own money. Older people, people that are confused, people that have a mental problem, children and the weak are often abused by others. A friend, a family member, a helper. a nurse, a personal care aide, a lawyer, the power of attorney, a nursing assistant or a neighbor can steal their money. Some lose all the money they have. Others may even lose their own house.

Almost 2 out of 3 abused older people are abused by members of the person's own family. These people may have a drug, alcohol, gambling or money problem that leads them to steal and financially abuse the older person.

Some examples are of this problem are:

  • cashing a person's checks without the person asking you to
  • Signing another person's name to a check or another legal paper
  • stealing a person's money
  • borrowing money and not paying it back
  • stealing a person's things
  • using another person's things without their permission to use it
  • forcing a person to sign a legal paper like a contract or a will
  • tricking the person into putting deeds, titles and bank accounts in their name
  • not following the law in terms of being a legal guardian or a power of attorney

Some of the signs of financial abuse are:

  • sudden changes in the person's bank account
  • the taking of large sums of money from the bank by the abuser when they are with the patient or person
  • names, other than the patient or person, on the bank signature card
  • sudden changes in the will or other legal papers
  • missing cash
  • missing items, like jewelry, from the person' s home or their room
  • bills that are not paid even when there is enough money to pay them
  • confusion and fear when the person is asked about their money and their money matters

If you think that someone is stealing from your patient you must report it right away. Also, never borrow money or take money, or things, from the person that you are taking care of.


You must be very careful when you are paying bills for other people. You must:

  • pay bills on time. Many companies charge a late fee if a payment is late.
  • talk to your patient and their family member about all bills. There could be mistakes. If a gas bill jumps from $50 a month to $200 a month, there could be a mistake. The company could have made a mistake, the rate could have gone up or there could be more gas use than usual in the person's house. There could also be a gas leak that nobody knew about.
  • save all of the person's charge card receipts. Check all receipts against the charge card bill to make sure that there are no charges that are a mistake. Also, make sure that all refunds and credits are on the charge card statement.
  • pay bills using a automatic system when the patient and the family member wants to do it this way, but be sure to check the monthly statements anyway. Electric, gas and telephone bills can be paid automatically every month using their person's checking or banking account.
  • balance the person's checkbook every month.


Here is the way to balance a checkbook to make sure that you actually have what you should have in a checking account.

  1. Look at all the checks that you get back from the bank and find out which ones have not yet gone thru the bank for cashing.

    When you get the checking statement in the mail, sort through all of the checks that you got from the bank. Put them in number order. Check off all of the checks that have been cashed by the bank, on the check register. Make sure that the amount of the check on the statement is the same as the amount that was written on the check and the amount that was written on the check register. It is an error if it does not match. Fix the error if the error was yours. If it is a bank error, call the bank.

    Now, look at the check register and find checks that have not yet been cashed by the bank. Write down these check numbers and the amount of each check on the form shown below. You can also use the form that the bank sends to you every month with your statement and cashed checks.
  2. Look at the statement and make sure that the person has gotten credit for all the deposits that they have made.

    Take out all of the deposit slips and automatic deposit slips, like the person's social security deposit, for the month. Check each deposit on the bank statement and with the check register. Check off all the deposits that were credited in the check register. If you did not get a credit for a deposit it may be an error or it may be that the bank has not yet credited the account. Write down all deposits that have not yet been credited on the form below.
  3. Check all ATM withdrawals and all debit card purchases.

    Go through the same process with all of the ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases. Check off each on your check register. If some are not seen in the statement it means that the bank has not yet recorded them. List them on the form in the same way that you listed checks that have not yet been cashed.
  4. Check the statement for all bank fees and all interest gained

    Check the bank statement for any bank fees and record them in the register. Also write any interest that you may have gotten in the checkbook register.

Use a calculator to total lines 1 (one) to 3 (three), as indicated by the plus and minus signs on the form, and enter the new total on line 4 (four). This should equal the balance shown in your checkbook register. If it doesn't, check for math errors in your checkbook register. Report and follow up on all bank errors with the bank.

Date Amount Check Number Amount
  1. Ending balance from your bank statement $ _______
  2. Add total outstanding deposits + _______
  3. Subtract total outstanding checks - _______
  4. New balance (should equal your checkbook balance after you record interest and fees in your checkbook register) = _____


There may be times that you are asked to help a person with their money, their banking, their bills and other money matters. It is very important that you are:

  • accurate,
  • honest,
  • prompt with paying bills, and
  • always being as careful with some one else's money as you would be with your own.

Also, report any suspected abuse or misuse of the person's money and things to your boss, the family members and the law, if necessary.


Atlanta Legal Aid Society (2010). “Elder Abuse”. [online].

Center for Problem-Oriented Policing (2010). “Financial Crimes Against the Elderly” [online].

National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (2010). “Financial Abuse”. [online].

Washington Post (12/04). “Defending Elders and Yourself”. [online].

Copyright © 2010 Alene Burke