Seniors have a right to be free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Abuse includes involuntary seclusion, intimidation, humiliation, harassment, threats of punishment, deprivation, hitting, slapping, pinching, kicking, any type of corporal punishment, sexual assault, sexual coercion, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, or any oral, written, or gestured language that includes disparaging or derogatory terms, regardless of the person's ability to hear or comprehend.

Neglect means the failure of a caretaker to provide the goods or services, including medical services, which are necessary to avoid physical or emotional harm or pain.

Exploitation includes a caretaker's illegal use of a senior's resources for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain. Seniors may need help with their finances, but unless they hand control over to another person, they have the same right as anyone else to receive, spend, invest, save or give away their money. A family member, "friend" or nursing home may not take control of a senior's money without that person's permission.

If you are being abused, or suspect that someone else is being abused, do not remain silent. If you are aware of a specific act of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, you are required by law to report it.

Physical and mental abuse exists in many different forms. If you believe you or someone you know is suffering physical or mental abuse and in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement agency.

If the victim is in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or is in his or her home and relies on a home health provider, call the Texas Department of State Health Services at (800) 458-9858.

If the victim is a resident of a long-term care facility that receives Medicaid funding, report the criminal abuse, neglect or exploitation to the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at (800) 252-8011.

Abuse of a senior who is not in a health care facility can be reported to Adult Protective Services at (800) 252-5400.