When you first hired your senior parent or loved one’s caregiver, you were positive they were the right person for the job.
Since then, things have changed and you’re no longer sure how you feel. You even think they may be stealing from you or your senior. How can you be sure?
How Do You Know If A Caregiver Is Stealing?
Despite your thorough investigations before hiring them, you have a bad feeling that your senior’s caregiver is stealing from them or you.
Here are some red flags that may indicate that is indeed what is happening.
1. Items Are Randomly Going Missing
The caregiver is likely is in your senior parent or loved one’s home every single day. You’re also there often enough that you know what is there.
Have you noticed that items have disappeared? Perhaps you ask your senior about the location of these items, and they’re not sure where the item went either.
Unless your senior parent or loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, there’s no reason for them not to trust their own memory.
Even if the items that go missing at first are small, don’t discount it. The caregiver could be testing the waters by taking small items to see if anyone notices.
Then they’ll work their way up to larger and/or more valuable items.
2. Isolating The Senior From Their Loved Ones
One huge red flag is if your loved one isn’t talking directly to you as often as they once did.
Maybe 9 times out of 10 when you call now, the caregiver says your senior is sleeping. Maybe you make dates for lunch or to drop by for the afternoon, but the caregiver calls at the last moment and says your loved one is feeling too tired to see you and they asked the caregiver to call and cancel.
Maybe when you drop by unannounced, the caregiver answers the door and tells you your loved one is taking a nap.
If this happens more often than not, they may be trying to control your senior.
3. The Caregiver Has Gotten Too Personal Too Fast
Does your elderly adult tell you story after personal story about the caregiver?
Has the caregiver become the senior’s best friend overnight? Are they suddenly increasing the level of their care by paying the senior more attention?
What could be happening in a situation like this is that the caregiver is trying to make your senior parent or loved one emotionally dependent on them.
The goal is to get the senior to try to repay this favor by giving the caregiver money or gifts or even paying for their expenses.
A few well-placed sob stories can do the trick, as well, because people naturally want to help those they feel close to.
Although the following wasn’t a caregiver situation, it’s a good illustration of what I mean by getting personal with the intention of getting someone to give you money.
My former in-laws loved a certain family diner and went there every Saturday for breakfast. One of the new servers quickly became their favorite.
After a couple of visits, the server began telling them about her car troubles. Every time they went into the restaurant, something new was wrong with her car. Oh, if only she had the money for a newer model!
So one day, my father in law walked in and handed her $5,000. In cash. Without asking my mom in law.
He enjoyed helping people he liked, so he simply handed over the money. I was horrified, but he was adamant that she was a wonderful person who was simply down on her luck and needed his help (never mind that my in-laws didn’t have much money themselves).
You can guess what happened next. The server abruptly quit her job (family troubles, she said) and that was that.
I’m sure she moved on to greener pastures and another restaurant with a kind “regular” she could fleece.
4. The Bills Are Going Up
You know how much your senior’s bills used to cost. They’ve gradually fluctuated here and there but have remained otherwise consistent.
Well, until this caretaker came into the picture, that is.
Since then, grocery bills, medication bills, and all other nature of bills have gone up and up and up.
Or have they? The caretaker could be lying to you and pocketing the difference. This is a good way to steal from you or the senior without really doing it.
5. The Caregiver Asks To See Financial Accounts And Records Or Holds Them Out Of The Mail (Or Is Handling Some Of The Finances)
A caregiver has a lot of job responsibilities, but none of them entail reviewing a senior’s financial records or accounts. Or making withdrawals on behalf of the senior
If a caregiver asks to see these documents, that’s about the biggest red flag there is that this person is likely going to steal from your senior or perhaps already is.
They also shouldn’t be keeping bank statements and other financial mail away from the senior. If your senior can’t remember the last time they saw their bank statements, it’s a red flag.
Another huge warning is if the caregiver is paying bills for the senior, using the senior’s checkbook (or purchasing items for the senior by using the senior’s credit cards). They now have access to the finances and this almost never turns out well for the senior.
6. You Have A Gut Feeling
Your intuition is a powerful thing and is not to be discounted. If you have a bad feeling that something is wrong or off, then you should trust your gut and investigate the matter further.
What To Do If A Caregiver Steals From You (How To Report A Caregiver)
Unfortunately, what if you’ve confirmed that your senior’s caregiver is stealing from you or them? Maybe you even caught them doing it. Now what?
Here’s what you should do.
Contact The Authorities
Too many times, older Americans don’t report theft and financial elder abuse because they feel ashamed that they were taken advantage of or they doubt themselves and don’t want to accuse someone and then be wrong (“maybe I misplaced that missing jewelry myself“).
But stealing is stealing, and since it’s a crime, even if it is petty theft, you shouldn’t be lenient on the caregiver if you’re positive they stole from you or your senior.
After all, you trusted them, allowed them into the home, and gave them a job, and this is how they repaid you.
Even if the caregiver only took $50 in cash, if they did it once and you let it go, then it’s only a matter of time before they do it again.
You have to report the matter to the police.
I’m not saying you need to call 911 and have the caregiver taken out in handcuffs (unless a serious crime occurred).
But I am saying that you can go to the local police station on your own time and report the crime.
Later, you may decide not to press charges, but either way, the report stays in the caregiver’s record.
Contact Elder Fraud Agencies
Contact The Caregiver’s Employer
You also must get in touch with the caregiver’s employer and tell them what happened.
Theft is unacceptable, so the company that provided you with the caregiver will likely terminate that person’s employment immediately.
Even if you don’t press charges, their loss of a job should hopefully inspire the caregiver to think twice about stealing from clients again.
Contact An Elder Care Attorney
It is especially important to contact an elder care attorney, especially in cases where a will or estate was changed.
Sadly, caregiver theft happens all the time, so you cannot and should not turn a blind eye to it.
If you notice any of these warning signs that your senior’s caregiver is taking from them or from you, don’t ignore them. Instead, try to catch the caregiver in the act of stealing if you can.
Then, go to the proper authorities, including the police and the caregiver’s employer.
Remember, if you let their behavior go, this can embolden the caregiver to steal bigger and better things or begin stealing from other clients.