According to the Minnesota Board on Aging, the most common crime reported in nursing homes and assisted living centers is theft. Elderly people are often targeted as victims due to their inability to fight back.
Residents of assisted living centers and their family members can take steps to minimize their chances of becoming a victim by learning how to stop thefts in assisted living homes.
- Ask about security before moving in. You should begin thinking about the security available at assisted living homes before you even move in. When touring different assisted living homes don’t be afraid to ask what measures the facility takes to protect residents from theft of personal property by other residents and employees. Find out what their policy is for handling employees that have been accused of or caught stealing.
- Find out the number of thefts the assisted living home has had in recent years. Most assisted living homes will make statistics available about the number of crimes that occur in their facility each year, and this is a great way for you to learn how many thefts are reported. However, if the assisted living home doesn't make this information available feel free to contact your state’s elder abuse organization, since they often keep statistics on theft, neglect, abuse and other crimes against the elderly.
- Create a list of the belongings you have with you in your assisted living home. This list serves as an inventory of what you have and can help if something goes missing. Make sure to include on the list any identifying features of each item, such as a serial number or distinctive mark. In addition, keep the list current by removing things from the list that you no longer have and adding items when you make a purchase or receive a gift.
- Label all your personal belongings. Items with your name or initials are less likely to be stolen since they can easily be identified. Take the time to label each item you have with you in an assisted living center in a manner that makes it impossible for your name or initials to be removed.
- Obtain insurance to cover the value of your property. As the need to protect personal property in assisted living homes increases, insurance companies are responding by creating policies to specifically meet this need. Personal property may also be protected by homeowner’s insurance if the resident of the assisted living home still owns an insured home.
- Check with the facility to determine if they offer secured storage. Some assisted living homes offer residents a secured storage area where personal belongings can be kept. Often this is in the administration offices and is unavailable to nurses and general staff of the assisted living home.
- Leave irreplaceable valuables with family members. Assisted living homes may not be the right place for items with a high monetary value or an irreplaceable personal value since they can be stolen. It may be better to leave these items with family members or in a safe deposit box at a bank.
- Report theft immediately if it does occur. As soon as you discover a personal belonging is missing you need to report it. Inform the staff and administration of the assisted living home as well as file a report with the police. If you choose, you can seek legal action against the person responsible or the facility itself.
Besides keeping a list of your belongings with you at the nursing home, you should also keep a copy of the list with a family member or your personal attorney.
Social Security numbers shouldn’t be used in labeling or identifying personal belongings as this can lead to identity theft.
- Besides keeping a list of your belongings with you at the nursing home, you should also keep a copy of the list with a family member or your personal attorney.