Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott has announced the month of May as Elder Abuse Prevention Month. During the month of May, Adult Protective Services (APS) collaborates with community advocates across Texas to raise awareness. Our elderly population routinely faces several forms of abuse such as neglect and financial exploitation. Consistently educating the public through advocacy and action will provide awareness and prevention of elder abuse.

What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse is defined as intentional and negligent acts by a caregiver that causes harm, distress or serious risk. As people become older and frailer, they are unable to take care of themselves and require trusted caregivers to be responsible for their needs.

What are the forms of elder abuse?

There are several forms of abuse that the elderly face.

  • Physical abuse is when an individual inflicts pain or injury by bodily contact such as scratches, cuts, bruises, burns or even broken bones.
  • Sexual abuse can be defined as non-consensual touching, fondling, intercourse or any other sexual activity.
  • Abuse can also be emotional or psychological. This is seen when individuals verbally assault or harass an elderly person.
  • Neglect is when a caregiver fails to provide survival necessities such as food, clothing, shelter or medical care. They can even fail to provide sanitary living conditions.
  • The elderly are also susceptible to self-neglect in which the elderly individual fails to perform their own self-care tasks.
  • Deprivation happens when caregivers deny medication and medical care.
  • When the caregiver denies the attention the elderly person needs, this is called abandonment.
  • The most common form of elderly abuse is financial exploitation. An elderly person’s finances can be compromised when there is illegal and unauthorized improper use of an older individual’s resources.

It is important to know what forms of abuse are happening whether the caregiver is a professional or family member. Prevention and response strategies for vulnerable adult abuse are numerous throughout Texas. If you witness a suspicious situation of elder abuse, call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 or report online at the TxAbuseHotline.org.

To help raise awareness of abuse by attending an event, please visit https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Everyones_Business/News/default.asp.

If you or a loved one are experiencing abuse and need assistance, self-help resources are available via www.texaslawhelp.org.  If you or a loved one are in need of an attorney or would like to explore other resources Texas Elders can utilize if they are being abused, you can visit the Texas Crime Victim Legal Assistance Network.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org.