Our seniors are sometimes victimized and they are not always able to report the maltreatment. This is a timely reminder of just how much our senior citizen population means to us. We must ensure that they are protected and revered in their golden years.

Information and Advice from HCCP2:

Abuse hurts at any age. ~ Constable Christopher E. Diaz

Our elderly population is comprised of many people who have made numerous contributions and sacrifices to ensure our community is a better place for us to live, work, and play. However, our seniors are sometimes victimized and they are not always able to report the maltreatment. The Constable’s Corner publication this month is a timely reminder of just how much our senior citizen population means to us, particularly since they established much of the tradition and history upon which our communities are based on.  They improved our society to a standard better than when they encountered it.  Now, we must ensure that they are protected and revered in their golden years.

What can be done?

The Office of the Attorney General and the State of Texas are committed to protecting the elderly from verbal, emotional and physical abuse, as well as financial exploitation, regardless of where the citizen is residing, whether it is their own home, the home of a family member, or in a long-term care facility.

If you believe that a senior citizen is being abused, please take a moment to report the issue to a member of the police or Office of the State Attorney General. If you observe or are notified that abuse is occurring, you are required by law to report it.

If an elder is in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement agency.

However, if the elder resides in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or relies on a home health provider, call the Texas Department of State Health Services at (800) 458-9858 (Texas Attorney General 2015).

When a victim is a resident of a long-term care facility that receives Medicaid funding, the abuse may be reported to the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at (512) 463-2011 (Austin), toll-free at (800) 252-8011 or by e-mail at mfcu@texasattorneygeneral.gov.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) investigates any report of abuse, neglect, and exploitation in nursing homes. Adult Protective Services (APS) will investigate exploitation allegations involving nursing home residents if the alleged perpetrator is not an employee of the facility and is someone who has an ongoing relationship with the resident. APS also investigates abuse of a senior who is not in a health care or assisted living facility.

After an investigation, if elder abuse is found, the APS provides and arranges for services to help the victim. Some of the services may include emergency shelter, providing of meals, medication, heavy cleaning, minor home repairs, restoration of utilities, and mental health assessments. When the need for intervention is found, guardianship services may be provided. Guardianship is an option for care of an individual when they are legally incapacitated and cannot protect themselves.

Rights of the Elderly

An elderly individual is entitled to enjoyment of life.  They have the right of dignity and self-determination. They are entitled to privacy, and to determining the level of care they need. Elderly individuals also have the right to be free from physical and mental abuse, including corporal punishment or physical or chemical restraints that are administered for the purpose of discipline or convenience and not required to treat the individual’s medical symptoms. These rights may apply when the elderly person is a resident of a care facility or home care. When residing in a nursing home, elderly persons have the right to be dressed well-groomed, and clean. Although all elderly care and patient rights cannot reasonably be discussed here, it is important to recognize that elders have the right to participate in activities of social, religious, or community groups, and receive visitors and mail without unnecessary limitation. Finally, elders also have the right to know their mental and physical condition, and accept or refuse medical treatment.

Resources

Please review the bullets that follow for guidance on where a complaint may be made, and who would investigate elder abuse complaints.

_ If the victim is in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or is in his or her home and relies on a home health provider, call the Texas Department of State Health Services at (800) 458-9858.

_ If the victim is a resident of a long-term care facility that receives Medicaid funding, report the criminal abuse, neglect or exploitation to the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at (512) 463-2011 (Austin), toll-free at (800) 252-8011 or by e-mail at mfcu@texasattorneygeneral.gov

_ Abuse of a senior who is not in a health care facility can be reported to Adult Protective Services at (800) 252-5400.

HELPLINES AND HOTLINES

_ Elder or Senior Abuse: Adult Protective Services, 1.800.252.5400

_ Nursing Home: Department on Aging, 1.800.458.9858

_ Medicaid Funded Facilities: Attorney General Medical Fraud Control Unit, 1.800.252.8011

_ Abuse in Hospitals, Psychiatric Hospitals, or Other Medical Facilities: 1.888.973.0022

_ Abuse of Persons Receiving Mental Health/Mental Retardation: 1.800.647.7418

_ Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.7233