May is Elder Abuse Prevention Month and in light of this the Disability and Elder Law Attorney’s Association welcomed Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos as its keynote speaker this month. Judge Lykos was joined by Kate Dolan, Assistant District Attorney in charge of the Elder Abuse Division.
The speech focused on the common causes of Elder Abuse, the most frequent offenders, and the reason that a majority of these crimes go unreported. Not surprisingly the common theme in most of these cases involves family members seeking money from elderly parents or grandparents. However such crimes are not limited to monetary exploitation and can include physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. Unfortunately a vast majority of these crimes go unreported because of the strong emotional bond between elderly victims and the abusive family member and/or the embarrassment that naturally stems from being a victim of such abuse.
The presentation wrapped up with a rundown of the reporting guidelines which are listed in the Human Resources Code Section 48.051. Such section states that a person having cause to believe that an elderly or disabled person is being abused, neglected, or exploited, shall report the information immediately to the authorities. Such duty applies without exception to a person whose knowledge concerning possible abuse, neglect, or exploitation is obtained during the scope of the person’s employment or whose professional communications are generally confidential, including an attorney, clergy member, medical practitioner, social worker, and mental health professional.
The report may be made orally or in writing and needs to include not only the name, age, and address of the elderly or disabled person but also the name and address of any person responsible for that person’s care; the nature and extent of the person’s condition; the basis of the reporter’s knowledge; and any other relevant information.
Such reports can be made to the police by dialing 911, Adult Protective Services (APS), Department of Aging and Disablity Services (DADS); or the County Attorney’s Office Protective Division, by calling Celilia Longoria at 713-578-2181.
Please help do your part to prevent this rapidly increasing problem. If you suspect that an elderly or disabled person is the victim of abuse, please contact one of the departments listed above or give us a call at 713-260-3926.