How Do You Prove Elder Abuse in Texas?
According to information from the National Council on Aging (NCOA), at least one in 10 US citizens aged 60 and over have experienced some form of abuse.
Estimates suggest that this results in a total of at least five million elders experiencing neglect, physical or emotional harm, or exploitation.
Victims are often afraid to talk about the abuse they suffer. In addition, cognitive problems and other conditions may affect the person's ability to remember these tough experiences.
However, it's important to know that victims and their loved ones can take legal action against at-fault parties and pursue compensation for damages and injuries.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is, essentially, the mistreatment of older adults that results in harm, mental distress, or loss. Unfortunately, it often takes many forms, including exploitation, sexual harassment, abandonment, and neglect. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has more information on questions like, "Is dehydration nursing home abuse in Texas?"
In the worst-case scenario, elder abuse results in bodily injuries, impairment, or death. However, many older adults are victims of these actions, whether they're at home or in an assisted living facility.
Types of Elder Abuse
There are different types of elder abuse, including the following:
Emotional or psychological abuse
If taking legal action against an abusive individual or group, claimants must prove that they experienced at least one or more forms of abuse. Therefore, victims and their families should know the common signs of each.
Elder abuse often takes the form of physical harm. It involves a person inflicting or threatening to cause physical pain or injuries to a vulnerable older adult.
Besides direct physical harm, this type of abuse includes the deprivation of food, water, and other basic needs.
These are the common signs of physical abuse:
Bruises, burns, and abrasions
Unusual weight loss
Sudden swings in mood
Unexplained withdrawal from leisure activities
Anxiety when interacting with other people
Bruises around genital areas or breasts
Emotional or Psychological Abuse
Considered the most common form of abuse, psychological or emotional abuse affects many elders. It involves causing mental anguish or distress to a person through verbal and non-verbal acts, which may include threats, yelling, and mocking.
Using power to control older adults, shaming them in front of others, or blaming them for things they didn't do are other forms of emotional abuse.
These are the signs that someone may be emotionally or psychologically abusing an elderly person:
Anxiety and depression
Sudden changes in behavior or mood
Drug or alcohol dependency
Loss of enjoyment of life
When a caregiver or family member looks unconcerned about the older adult's well-being or doesn't provide the care they need, that can also be a sign of abuse.
Financial Abuse and Exploitation
This type of abuse occurs when a person takes control of a vulnerable elder's property or resources, such as the person's social security number, for monetary or personal benefit.
These are the common signs of financial exploitation:
A caregiver or family member who controls the older adult's money but doesn't provide what they need
Lack of food, water, medical services, or other basic needs even though the older adult has enough money to pay for them
A vulnerable older adult who signs property transfers even if they don't understand the contract or receive proper legal advice
Elders who buy expensive gifts or give large amounts of money to another person in exchange for companionship or care
Family members or spouses may be responsible for caring for an older adult. Failure to fulfill this obligation is a common form of elder abuse. However, it can be intentional or unintentional.
In addition, some elders neglect their own care, failing to provide themselves with adequate nutrition and other needs. This behavior, considered self-neglect, can result in severe injuries and illnesses.
These are the common signs of neglect:
Lack of medications and medical aids
Unsupervised elders with a mental condition
Failure to provide adequate nutrition for oneself (self-neglect) or to an older adult (elder neglect)
Home with safety hazards
Untreated medical conditions and injuries
Understanding Texas Elder Abuse Laws
In Texas, elder abuse is a felony. In addition, the offense's degree varies depending on the circumstances surrounding the case.
A person who intentionally causes severe physical harm to an older adult can be charged with a first-degree felony. Meanwhile, someone who injured a senior citizen through a reckless act can be convicted of a second-degree felony.
In addition, people who suspect elder abuse should report it. Otherwise, they could be held accountable for a misdemeanor or state jail felony.
Those who want to report elder abuse can contact the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which manages the Texas Abuse Hotline, the Adult Protective Services, or any other local law enforcement agency.
What Victims and Their Families Need to Prove Elder Abuse
As mentioned, victims or their family members must prove that someone harmed them through an illegal or improper act in order to win a case and recover compensation for elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
Experienced nursing home abuse attorneys can help them collect the evidence they need to build a strong case and hold at-fault parties accountable for their actions.
These documents may include the following:
Reports from a doctor or expert to prove the mental or physical condition
Photos of the physical injuries
Bank statements showing huge withdrawals
Invoices showing inexplicable purchases or huge bills
Unpaid healthcare receipts
In addition, claimants may present other types of evidence depending on the form of abuse they want to prove. Therefore, seeking guidance from a seasoned elder abuse attorney can make all the difference.
Working with an Elder Abuse Lawyer
An empathetic, dependable, and knowledgeable attorney can help elder abuse victims fight for their rights and hold at-fault parties responsible for their actions. They can help answer questions like, "What is psychological abuse in a nursing home?" No older adult deserves to live these horrible experiences due to other people's neglect and wrongdoing.
Luckily, at Schuerger Shunnarah, we're committed to offering the comprehensive guidance victims need through the legal process to file a claim against at-fault caregivers, individuals, or institutions and recover the compensation they deserve.
Contact us today and get a free case consultation. We go to war for our clients!