Jesse Quackenbush

Stop Elder Abuse

In Texas last year, our government received 120,000 reports of elder abuse. Only 85,000 of those reports were investigated. At least 50,000 of those investigated cases were “validated” by substantial evidence. According to the Texas Department of Family & Protective services, for every case of “reported” elder abuse, neglect or exploitation in Texas, at least 24 cases are unreported. This means that approximately 2,800,000 incidents of elder abuse occur in the Lone Star State each year. It’s no wonder Medicaid has ranked Texas nursing homes at their lowest possible level, “much below average.” Nearly every national oversight organization has Texas ranked as the worst state in the nation for addressing elder abuse. Even more shameful, TDFPS estimates that of the abused, 50% have dementia or Alzheimer’s.

The Law Enforcement Management Institute at Sam Houston State University completed a study in 2022 which revealed that 9 out of 10 Texas police officers receive absolutely no training on how to detect or investigate reported elder abuse cases. Embarrassingly, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement has only two voluntary courses which teach police officers how to detect and investigate elder abuse.

Less than 1% of reported and substantiated cases of elder abuse are criminally prosecuted by our Texas Attorney General or local elected District Attorneys. Of the 1%, most cases are dismissed with no convictions. Finally, most substantiated cases of elder abuse in nursing homes or assisted living facilities close without any form of sanction, fine or even written warning.

When I’m elected, my highest priority will be to stop elder abuse by passing legislation:

1. increasing meaningful regulation and oversight of all nursing homes and assisted living facilities;

2. requiring mandatory police and first responder training to detect and investigate elder abuse;

3. imposing mandatory lifetime license revocations of any caregiver convicted or receiving deferred adjudication probation for elder abuse;

4. mandating permanent license revocations for any facility receiving more than 10 substantiated reports of elder abuse per year;

5. abolishing the current medical malpractice civil damage cap of $250,000.00 for caregivers and facilities found to have either negligently,

intentionally or recklessly abused an elderly person;

6. mandating annual audits of District Attorney Offices to verify each office is quantitatively and qualitatively prosecuting criminal conduct resulting in elder abuse;

7. increasing 24/7 independent video surveillance of every licensed facility in Texas; and

8. mandating in-room emergency telephones for residents to access to report abuse.

To me, elder abuse should be at the top of every candidate’s legislative priorities. This scourge needs to be addressed with immediate action. Ignoring this problem is, quite simply, disgraceful.