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Elder Abuse: Behaviors That May Result in Criminal Charges

Posted on October 2, 2013 by Mintzer Law

Protecting the state’s senior residents from harm, neglect or exploitation is the focus of Texas laws enforced by law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. The efforts of law enforcement agencies are directed toward protecting elderly residents living in their homes or in long-term care facilities from physical, verbal or emotional abuse and from financial exploitation.

Elder Abuse and Neglect in Texas

Elder abuse is defined in Chapter 48 of the Texas Human Resources Code. Some of the most common forms of abuse include the following:

  • Forced or involuntary seclusion
  • Intimidation, harassment and threats of deprivation or punishment
  • Corporal punishment such as hitting, punching, kicking and pinching
  • Sexual assault or coercion
  • Verbal threats or abuse

Elder neglect occurs when a caretaker withholds or fails to provide services and goods that are needed by an older resident to avoid harm or pain.

Exploitation of Texas Seniors

Elderly residents are susceptible to being taken advantage of by caretakers in whom they place their trust. The unauthorized use of an elderly person’s assets for the personal benefit of a caretaker is illegal in Texas.

Sometimes, family members, caretakers, nursing homes or health care workers might take control of a senior’s assets through deception, coercion, fraudulent acts or other means that rely upon a relationship developed between with the elderly person. Some of the more common situations of financial exploitation include:

  • Fraudulent or bogus investment schemes
  • Promise of a sweepstakes or lottery prize winnings requiring payment of phony taxes and fees
  • Gaining access to a senior citizen’s financial account information and withdrawing funds without the person’s permission
  • Coercing or intimidating the elderly person to make bank withdrawals with the money going to another person
  • Taking advantage of a person’s trust to gain control over their financial affairs

The Role of Bank Employees

Bank employees who get to know the habits of their elderly customers frequently spot situations that could signal financial exploitation. Signs of potential exploitation include the following:

  • Transactions on an elderly customer’s account by someone other than the account holder
  • An elderly customer who seems intimidated or afraid of a person accompanying them
  • Confusion or an apparent lack of understanding on the part of the elderly customer while a companion controls what is said and done
  • Transactions, such as unusually large or frequent withdrawals from an account, that are contrary to the customer’s usual practices

If you have been accused of abusing or neglecting an elderly person in Texas, dial 713-862-8880 and talk to Rand Mintzer, Attorney at Law.