THE CONSTABLE’S CORNER

AS WE ALL KNOW, THE MONTH OF MAY IS ELDER ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH IN THE STATE OF TEXAS. HOW CAN I HELP STOP OR REPORT SUSPECTED ELDER ABUSE?

Answer:

We were all taught from an early age to respect our elders, to return to them some modicum of appreciation for all they’ve done to set our stage for success. They’ve helped build this nation; safeguarded us against enemies, both foreign and domestic; and, they’ve sacrificed time and time again to point us in the right direction. So, it’s only right they coast gently into their golden years with our support and encouragement. Right?

Unfortunately, not everyone sees it the way you and I do.

While the victimization of the elderly has been occurring since time immemorial, there seems to be a growing trend that spotlights our elders as ripe victims for crime.  They are beaten, starved, neglected and their money and identities are stolen.  If you’re like me, the thought of the elders of my family being victimized by someone is chilling. Unfortunately, it is happening somewhere close by as we speak.

But, keep your chin up.  There is hope and a way you can help if you suspect an elder you know is being abused, neglected or exploited and it’s only a phone call away.

Remember these two numbers: 9-1-1 and 1-800-252-5200.

In case of an emergency, always call 9-1-1. If an elder is in dire need of police or medical assistance as a result of abuse, neglect or exploitation, dial this number and call in the cavalry. A proper police or medical response starts the wheels of justice turning and there are many oversight organizations that come into play when a cry for help goes out.

If you suspect an elder is being abused, neglected or exploited and it is not a dire emergency, you can call your local law enforcement agency, or you can contact the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at the DFPS Hotline number 1-800-252-5200.

The Department of Family and Protective Service Mission Statement is clear.

The mission of The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is to protect children, the elderly, and people with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation by involving clients, families, and communities.”

This number, and their website address,https://www.txabusehotline.org, is manned 24-hours a day/7 days a week. Please keep in mind the website reporting system should be used for non-emergency reporting situations.

Knowledge is power.  Educate yourself and know the resources that are available for you to use to defend those who cannot defend themselves.

Here is a brief glance at information you may find helpful in your campaign against elderly abuse.

  • While all abuse should be reported, regardless of the age, for the purposes of this reporting process, “elderly” is defined as a person who is 65 years of age or older.
  • An “emergency” is a situation where a person who is elderly faces an immediate risk of abuse or neglect that could result in death or serious harm.
  • The Human Resources Code Chapter 48 (48.051) requires a person having cause to believe that an elderly or disabled person is in the state of abuse, neglect, or exploitation to report the information required immediately.

The following descriptions are not necessarily proof of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. But they may be clues that a problem exists, and that a report needs to be made to law enforcement or Adult Protective Services.

Physical Signs

  • Injury that has not been cared for properly
  • Injury that is inconsistent with explanation for its cause
  • Pain from touching
  • Cuts, puncture wounds, burns, bruises, welts
  • Dehydration or malnutrition without illness-related cause
  • Poor coloration
  • Sunken eyes or cheeks
  • Inappropriate administration of medication
  • Soiled clothing or bed
  • Frequent use of hospital or health care/doctor-shopping
  • Lack of necessities such as food, water, or utilities
  • Lack of personal effects, pleasant living environment, personal items
  • Forced isolation

Behavioral Signs

  • Fear
  • Anxiety, agitation
  • Anger
  • Isolation, withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Non-responsiveness, resignation, ambivalence
  • Contradictory statements, implausible stories
  • Hesitation to talk openly
  • Confusion or disorientation

Signs by Caregiver

  • Prevents elder from speaking to or seeing visitors
  • Anger, indifference, aggressive behavior toward elder
  • History of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior, or family violence
  • Lack of affection toward elder
  • Flirtation or coyness as possible indicator of inappropriate sexual relationship
  • Conflicting accounts of incidents
  • Withholds affection
  • Talks of elder as a burden

Signs of Financial Abuse

  • Sudden changes in bank account or banking practice.
  • Unexplained withdrawal of a lot of money by a person accompanying the victim.
  • Adding additional names on a bank signature card.
  • Unapproved withdrawal of funds using an ATM card.
  • Sudden changes in a will or other financial documents.
  • Unexplained missing funds or valuables.
  • Providing substandard care.
  • Unpaid bills despite having enough money.
  • Forged signature for financial transactions or for the titles of property.
  • Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to a person’s
    affairs and possessions.
  • Unexplained sudden transfer of assets.
  • Providing unnecessary services.
  • A complaint of financial exploitation.

The information is out there and so are the victims.  Don’t turn a blind eye and assume someone else will report the abuse.  We all have a responsibility to protect our elders.

We are proud to partner with Crime Stoppers to champion the defense of our elders.

In the end, it is important that you remember, you are the greatest champion of your own safety and the safety of those who can no longer protect themselves.  Stay alert, be safe and best wishes from your team at Harris County Constable’s Office Precinct 2.