The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a manual Tuesday specifically designed to help assisted living community and nursing home managers spot the signs of financial abuse and protect residents and the facilities.

Senior living and care employees, according to the agency, are in a unique position to protect older adult residents from financial exploitation by preventing abuse or intervening early.

Financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse, the CFPB said. A recent study concluded that about 5% of older Americans experienced financial mistreatment by a family member in a single year. Most exploitation complaints to long-term care ombudsmen involve perpetrators from outside the facility, the agency said.

Titled “Protecting residents from financial exploitation: A manual for assisted living and nursing facilities,” the guide — geared to administrators, business office staff, social service personnel and any staff members involved in the admissions process — outlines ways to “create awareness, policies and processes to protect the facility residents.” 

According to the CFPB, when an assisted living or nursing facility resident is the target of financial abuse, “everyone suffers.” “Financial losses affect the resident, the facility and the broader community,” according to the agency. 

The manual walks operators through four pillars of successful intervention:

  • Prevent — through awareness and training.
  • Recognize — spot the warning signs and take action.
  • Record — document your findings.
  • Report — tell the appropriate authorities and trigger responses. 

Offering video conferencing as a way for residents and caregivers to meet with community staff to discuss billing problems, decision-making issues and other financial red flags, the CFPB said. A video call, according to the manual, can allow caregivers to pick up on nonverbal cues that may be lost during a phone call.

Another suggestion is to host a webinar or post a newsletter article for residents and caregivers about how to recognize and report elder financial exploitation. And print out and share information about common scams and coronavirus-related scams with community staff members and residents.