Reporting Elder Abuse in Texas
By law, Texas residents are required to report known or suspicious elder abuse. Texas is home to more than 2.5 million elderly residents, and there are tens of thousands of elder abuse cases each year.
Types of maltreatment may include emotional abuse, forced isolation, financial exploitation or physical injury. Abusive or neglectful caregivers may show anger or indifference toward elders, prevent them from speaking to or seeing visitors, or take advantage of their financial resources.
All Texans have an obligation to report suspicions of elderly abuse or neglect. The law requires any person who believes that a child, or person 65 years or older, or an adult with disabilities is being abused, neglected, or exploited to report the circumstances. A person making a report is immune from civil or criminal liability provided they make the report in good faith, and the name of the person making the report is kept confidential.
Any person suspecting abuse and not reporting it can be held liable for a misdemeanor or state jail felony. Time frames for investigating reports are based on severity of allegations. Reporting suspected elder abuse makes it possible for a family to get help. Individuals will have their identity concealed and will not run the risk of facing either civil or criminal liability.
Any Texas resident who knows about elder abuse and decides not to report it will be charged and convicted of a Class B misdemeanor. Texas law forbids anyone from filing a false claim of elder abuse. The Adult Protective Services (APS) is responsible for investigating any claims of elder abuse that take place within a care facility, including private homes.
Elder abuse is considered a felony in Texas, although the circumstances involved determine whether it's a felony in the first, second, or third degree. Elder abusers who willingly cause serious physical harm on a senior citizen will be convicted of a felony in the first degree. A second degree felony occurs when the abuser causes serious physical harm through a reckless act.
You have a right to be safe and protected from abuse. The Office of the Attorney General and the State of Texas are committed to protecting you from verbal, emotional and physical abuse, as well as financial exploitation, whether you are living in your own home, with family or in a long-term care facility.
Abuse includes involuntary seclusion, intimidation, humiliation, harassment, threats of punishment, deprivation, hitting, slapping, pinching, kicking, any type of corporal punishment, sexual assault, sexual coercion, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, or any oral, written, or gestured language that includes disparaging or derogatory terms, regardless of the person's ability to hear or comprehend.
Neglect means the failure of a caretaker to provide the goods or services, including medical services, which are necessary to avoid physical or emotional harm or pain. Exploitation includes a caretaker's illegal use of a senior's resources for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain.
Seniors may need help with their finances, but unless they hand control over to another person, they have the same right as anyone else to receive, spend, invest, save or give away their money. A family member, "friend" or nursing home may not take control of a senior's money without that person's permission.
If you are being abused, or suspect that someone else is being abused, do not remain silent. If you are aware of a specific act of abuse, neglect or exploitation, you are required by law to report it.If the victim is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement agency.
Elder Options of Texas