Elder abuse, neglect are growing problems in East Texas

Possible signs of abuse, exploitation and neglect provided

The neglect and abuse of Shelby County's generation of senior adults is a growing problem, not only in the county but across the region.

Tracey Belin, community engagement specialist for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services based in Center, said she has 20 years of experience in investigating exploitation and self-neglect cases.

Most prevalent in those cases are the self-neglect case which basically boil down to the seniors or disabled individuals not having enough funds to take care of their needs.

Those intakes increase over the summer months,” Belin said. Temperatures rise along with electric bills and other expenses, she said.

On Friday, June 14, she was at the Center location of Shelby Savings Bank meeting with staff and customers sharing information about the services the state department offers.

We like to spread the word and Shelby Savings has been very supportive over the years,” Belin said. “They’ve helped out with fan drives and other projects.”

Among the goals of the Adult Protective Services is to assist the elderly and disabled to stay in their own homes as long as they are physically and mentally capable.

It’s challenging but rewarding,” she said. In recent years she and others in her profession have seen increases in the numbers of elder abuse with at least part of that increase attributed to a growing senior population.


Possible signs of abuse, exploitation and neglect

The following descriptions are not necessarily proof of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. But there may be clues that a problem exists, and that a report needs to be made to law enforcement or Adult Protective Services.
Physical Signs

    Injury that has not been cared for properly
    Injury that is inconsistent with explanation for its cause
    Pain from touching
    Cuts, puncture wounds, burns, bruises, welts
    Dehydration or malnutrition without illness-related cause
    Poor coloration
    Sunken eyes or cheeks
    Inappropriate administration of medication
    Soiled clothing or bed
    Frequent use of hospital or health care/doctor-shopping
    Lack of necessities such as food, water, or utilities
    Lack of personal effects, pleasant living environment, personal items
    Forced isolation

Behavioral Signs

    Anxiety, agitation
    Isolation, withdrawal
    Non-responsiveness, resignation, ambivalence
    Contradictory statements, implausible stories
    Hesitation to talk openly
    Confusion or disorientation

Signs by Caregiver

    Prevents elder from speaking to or seeing visitors
    Anger, indifference, aggressive behavior toward elder
    History of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior, or family violence
    Lack of affection toward elder
    Flirtation or coyness as possible indicator of inappropriate sexual relationship
    Conflicting accounts of incidents
    Withholds affection
    Talks of elder as a burden

Signs of Financial Abuse

    Sudden changes in bank account or banking practice.
    Unexplained withdrawal of a lot of money by a person accompanying the victim.
    Adding additional names on a bank signature card.
    Unapproved withdrawal of funds using an ATM card.
    Sudden changes in a will or other financial documents.
    Unexplained missing funds or valuables.
    Providing substandard care.
    Unpaid bills despite having enough money.
    Forged signature for financial transactions or for the titles of property.
    Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to a person’s affairs and possessions.
    Unexplained sudden transfer of assets.
    Providing unnecessary services.
    A complaint of financial exploitation.


The Light and Champion

137 San Augustine St.
Center TX 75935