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Elder law

abuse and exploitation

Both the federal government and state governments have enacted laws (statutes) that provide civil and criminal penalties for the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults. Elder abuse may take many forms, including (1) financial or material exploitation; (2) physical abuse; (3) emotional or psychological abuse; (4) sexual abuse; (5) neglect; and (6) abandonment.

Domestic elder abuse generally refers to any of these types of abuse when committed by someone with whom the elder has a special relationship—such as a spouse, sibling, child, friend, or caregiver.

Institutional elder abuse generally refers to any of these types of abuse occurring in residential facilities—such as a nursing facility, assisted living facility, group home, board and care facility, or foster home—and is usually perpetrated by someone with a legal or contractual obligation to provide some element of care or protection.

Elder abuse laws vary from state to state and are usually located in a state’s statutes. The federal Elder Justice Act is located in the United States Code beginning at 42 U.S.C. §1397j.

In Texas, elder abuse is taken seriously and is addressed through various statutes that provide both civil and criminal penalties for offenses against older adults. The Texas Human Resources Code (Chapters 48 and 102) and the Texas Penal Code (Chapters 22 and 32) outline the definitions and penalties for elder abuse, which include financial exploitation, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Domestic elder abuse pertains to mistreatment by someone in a close relationship with the elder, while institutional elder abuse occurs within facilities like nursing homes or assisted living centers, often by caregivers. The state mandates reporting of suspected elder abuse by certain professionals and provides protective services and legal remedies. At the federal level, the Elder Justice Act (42 U.S.C. §1397j) supplements state laws by providing additional resources to prevent, detect, treat, understand, intervene in, and, where appropriate, prosecute elder abuse. Texas also has specific regulations governing long-term care facilities to protect residents from abuse and neglect, enforced by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

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Addressing the Silent Crisis: Understanding Elder Abuse Laws
As our population ages, understanding, recognizing, and addressing elder abuse becomes increasingly vital. Today, we’ll take a look at this critical topic and delve into some applicable elder abuse laws.