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What rights do my elderly parents have in Texas?

In the state of Texas the law provides certain rights and protections for the elderly. If your parents are in their golden years and considering relocation to a nursing home or assisted living facility, or employing a private nurse, you may be wondering how best to protect them.

The first step in selecting a facility or caregiver for your parents is to have a basic knowledge of elder law.

Dignity and respect

In addition to having the same civil rights as any other adult, the elderly have the right to dignity and respect. This means that they have the right to make their own choices with regard to services, health care and personal affairs. They also have the right to live in a manner free from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Designating a guardian

If your parent's mental state is in decline and is showing signs of confusion or poor decision-making, he or she may appoint another individual to act as a guardian or representative. The person chosen should be someone that can be trusted to ensure your parent receives quality care in all areas. You or a sibling may be the most appropriate choice.

Freedom from abuse

Your elderly parent has the right to be free from both mental and physical abuse. This includes corporal punishment, physical restraints or medications used either to make care more convenient or as a punishment.

The only time restraints are permitted is if your parent is acting in a manner legitimately dangerous to him- or herself or to other people, or if authorized by a doctor in case of an emergency. Restraints may also be used if your parent's representative or guardian has provided consent.

If your parent is not receiving adequate treatment or is suffering abuse, he or she has the right to communicate and complain. If your parent is a nursing home resident, be aware that if the facility or its employees are intimidating you or your parent regarding treatment, it is in violation of the law; you should report the matter to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.

Medical malpractice

Your parent is entitled to an acceptable standard of medical care. If your parent suffers an injury or illness due to a health care professional's failure to meet this standard or due to medical negligence, then malpractice may exist.

If you are concerned about the level of care your elderly parent is receiving or suspect abuse, negligence or malpractice, it is important to understand your rights and options. For guidance with such an issue, contact an attorney experienced in elder law.

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