There is a growing problem with elder abuse in both nursing homes and in the home. Those who live in the state of Texas can report these incidents to the Attorney General’s Office or their local law enforcement agency if there is a reason to suspect a senior is in immediate danger. This issue is becoming more problematic, which is why Texas and many other states have been forced to put provisions into place for protecting our senior citizens.
Filing a report.
There are several agencies that monitor elder abuse in Texas: Adult Protective Services, Department of Aging (DADS), and the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Abuse is defined as any act that involves secluding a person, humiliating a senior, depriving a person of basic needs, any type of corporal punishment or physical abuse, sexual assaults or coercion or any other type of verbal abuse or harassment up to and including the use of derogatory terms against a person even if that person is unable to hear or understand the statements.
When a caretaker fails to provide the necessary goods and services a person needs for the prevention of physical or emotional harm, he or she is guilty of neglect.
A caretaker is guilty of exploitation when he or she uses the resources of a senior for personal profit or gain. Even those seniors who need help with their finances have the right to do with their money as they so choose (unless they have turned over that control to someone else). No family member, friend or nursing home is allowed to control the finances of a senior without that person’s explicit permission.
Seniors in immediate danger.
When filing a report with one of the agencies is not enough, there are other options. For instance, if you believe someone is in imminent danger you can report your suspicions to the police. Under Texas law, anyone who suspects a child, elderly person or an adult with disabilities is being abused, exploited or neglected is obligated to report it to DFPS. There is no need for anyone to fear filing a report that turns out to be false; if you report abuse in good faith, you are immune from any criminal or civil liability. On the other hand, a person who fails to report suspected abuse or neglect can face misdemeanor or felony charges.
Investigations by APS.
APS (Adult Protective Services) is the agency with the responsibility for investigating reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of those who receive services in facilities that serve adults and children who suffer from mental illness or mental retardation. The following settings fall under the jurisdiction of APS:
- State funded living centers
- State hospitals
- State centers
- Community mental health and retardation centers
- Contractors for facility and community centers
- Mental health and mental retardation authorities
- Intermediate care facilities for those who suffer from mental retardation
APS recently updated their policies in regards to the in-home program that is designed to effectively target adults who are the most vulnerable to abuse. This caused some adults who were formerly eligible for APS services to be eliminated under new guidelines.
The guidelines for filing abuse and neglect reports in Texas can be rather daunting for some people. If you would like clarification concerning your responsibility for reporting these instances our firm can point you in the right direction. All you need to do is call our office at 1-877-405-4313.