Rights of the Elderly

Elderly woman standing in her living room. Hammerle Finley Law Firm located in Lewisville, Texas

Super-Powers at Your Service

Let’s see – are you a resident of Texas?  Check. An adult? Check. Age 60 or older? Check.

Congratulations!  You are guaranteed Super-Powers.  These extra-special powers, which go by the catchy name of Rights of the Elderly, have to be accorded to you by convalescent and nursing homes, home health services, and alternate care services provided to you in your home, neighborhood and community.

In fact, each one of those service-providers are supposed to give you a written list of your special rights and responsibilities before providing services to you, and also post the list in a conspicuous location.

But there are a whole lot of alternate care service providers (and that includes providers for residential repair and attendant care) who did not know about that little requirement.  Or that they can lose their license, registration or certification if they fail to provide the list or if they deny you any of your rights.

No matter – we will give you the highlights now.

What Are The Rights of the Elderly?

  1. You have the right to complain about your care or treatment, receive a prompt response to resolve the complaint, and not be punished for making your complaint.
  2. You have the right to privacy while attending to your personal needs and to a private place for receiving visitors.
  3. You have the right to send and receive unopened mail.
  4. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect for your personal integrity.  That includes the right to make your own choices regarding your personal affairs, care, benefits and sources, and the right to be free from abuse, neglect and exploitation.
  5. You have the right to be free from physical and mental abuse, including the use of physical or chemical restraints absent physician written order or emergency to protect you or others.
  6. You have the right to manage your own financial affairs.  You have the right to authorize someone else to manage your financial affairs and to demand an accounting from that person.
  7. You have right to your personal and clinical records.  These records are confidential and can only be released with your consent, or to another person providing services at the time you are transferred, or as required by law.
  8. You have the right to an explanation, in a language that you understand, of your total medical condition and of any change in your medical condition from every person providing medical services to you.
  9. You have the right to choose and retain a personal physician.
  10. You have the right to refuse medical treatment.
  11. You have the right to retain and use personal possessions, as space permits.  The number may be limited for the health and safety of other individuals.
  12. You have the right to a 30-day notice, except in an emergency, before you are transferred or discharged from a residential facility.

For the full list, see Texas Human Resources Code Section 102.003.

These rights are in addition to every other right you are afforded under the law. Knowledge is power: keep this article close at hand.

Virginia Hammerle is a Texas attorney whose practice includes estate planning, guardianship and probate. Sign up for her newsletter at legaltalk@hammerle.com.

This column does not constitute legal advice.