AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), the month of June is recognized as Elder Abuse Prevention Month. Officials suggested that Texans take the opportunity to check in on elderly friends and neighbors.
DFPS noted that it aims to protect the unprotected, including the elderly members of Texas communities. The department asked that community members take stock of whether they have an elderly neighbor who can no longer keep up their home, isn’t taking care of themselves, or needs medical care.
According to officials with Adult Protective Services (APS), the department investigated 4,501 situations in the Panhandle area last year regarding people who were living at home and found that 3,230 of them suffered one or more forms of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. In most of those cases, at least one factor involved was self-neglect.
“Abuse may get the headlines, but one of the most common situations we encounter is self-neglect,” said Marci Leffler, Faith-Based Community Engagement Specialist for APS, “Sometimes when people become ill or depressed, they quit trying or simply can’t care for themselves without some help. That’s when someone needs to make a call to the Texas Abuse Hotline.”
As detailed on the DFPS website, some common signs of self-neglect may include:
- Obvious malnutrition
- Being physically unclean and unkempt
- Excessive fatigue and listlessness
- Dirty, ragged clothing
- Unmet medical or dental needs
- Refusing to take medications or disregarding medical restrictions
- Home in a state of filth or dangerous disrepair
- Unpaid utility bills
- Lack of food or medications
Elderly people and those with disabilities, said DFPS, are also among those at a greater risk for having trouble with proper use of medication and substance use disorders. Further, elder abuse could include a person being subject to physical or psychological abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect at the hands of others.
Regarding financial abuse and exploitation, DFPS noted that common signs might include:
- Cashing checks without permission
- Sudden changes in bank accounts or banking practices
- A person with the account owner withdrawing a lot of money
- Adding extra names on a bank signature card
- Unapproved ATM card withdrawals
- Sudden changes in a will or other financial documents
- Forged signatures on financial transactions or property titles
- Unexplained missing money or valuables
- Unpaid bills despite having enough money
- Relatives suddenly claiming rights to a person’s affairs and property
The department noted that Texas state law requires anyone suspecting adult abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation to report it to the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400, or online at TxAbuseHotline.org. Officials also noted that callers have the option to remain anonymous. The DFPS website published further information on types of mistreatment, as well as ways that community members and organizations can help those who may be experiencing mistreatment or other issues.
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