We love and respect our elders in Texas. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and senior community members deserve special care and treatment considering the many years they have lived and the contributions they have made to their families and communities. Not only should we treat our elders with compassion and respect because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s the law. Under Section 102.003 of the Texas Human Resources Code, everyone over the age of 60 is entitled to special rights and protections. We take a look at what those rights are so that we can protect our senior loved ones and they can protect themselves.
A Summary of Rights Granted to Texans Over the Age of 60
Naturally, the elderly have the same federal and state civil rights as other adults, but because many of our older loved ones are more vulnerable to fraud, abuse, neglect, and mistreatment than younger adults, the state of Texas has granted additional protections to ensure their safety and security. If someone violates a senior’s special rights, they could be subject to civil or criminal legal action. Rights granted to seniors in Texas include the following:
- Right to dignity and respect. Regardless of race, religion, national origin, sex, or disability, an elderly person has the right to be treated with dignity and respect, including being allowed to make their own choices and to be free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
- Right to designate a guardian. A senior who needs additional protection due to compromised physical or cognitive ability has the right to choose a guardian or representative to manage their affairs.
- Right to be free from physical and mental abuse. Physical and mental abuse of seniors takes many forms. From the use of corporal punishment and physical restraint to intentional isolation and neglect of personal needs, seniors are vulnerable to abuse when they are dependent on another person for their care. Seniors who are lonely and neglected suffer from high rates of mental health problems. Those who abuse the elderly can be prosecuted as criminals in Texas.
- Right to communicate and complain regarding treatment, care, or services. Particularly in nursing homes, but also in in-home care situations, it is illegal to prevent an elderly person from communicating in their native language to report abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities. Denying a senior access to a telephone or computer is a violation of this right.
- Right to privacy. Elderly people in residential situations have a right to privacy to attend to personal needs and spend time with visitors. Seniors cannot be denied access to the visitors, advocates, and family members they choose to see.
- Right to manage financial affairs. A senior might want help managing their money, but unless they legally sign financial control over to a guardian or representative, they have a right to spend, donate, and gift their money in any way they choose. Exercising undue influence to control an elderly person’s money is against the law.
- Right to information and choice regarding medical conditions and care. Seniors have the right to be fully informed about their medical conditions, treatment options, and insurance coverage, and they have the right to make decisions about the treatments they want or to refuse treatment altogether.
- Right to make other legal decisions. As long as an elderly person is of sound mind, they have the right to execute and alter legal documents such as Wills, Advance Directives, and Trusts as they choose. They also have the right to designate representatives to make legal and health care decisions for them if they become incapacitated in the future.
As Medicaid and Estate Planning Attorneys, we work with sharp and competent seniors every day. Just because someone has reached the age of 90 or more doesn’t mean they can’t take care of themselves and make their own decisions. By law, family members, caregivers, neighbors, roommates, and everyone else must respect the rights of the elderly to live with autonomy and dignity.
Are You Looking for a Medicaid Planning Attorney in Texarkana, TX?
If you are looking for Medicaid planning advice, you need to speak with an experienced Medicaid planning attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Texarkana office directly at 903.223.5653. We also have offices in Tyler and Paris, as well as Magnolia, AR!