Cases of reported elderly abuse on the rise

Cases of elderly abuse are on the rise in the Rio Grande Valley, according to data by the Texas Department of Adult Protective Services.

Cases of elderly abuse are on the rise in the Rio Grande Valley, according to data by the Texas Department of Adult Protective Services.

In 2017, the department received about 5,399 reports of elderly abuse in the Valley.

And there could be more cases that go unreported, says Gustavo Salinas, community engagement specialist for the department.

“As our population is growing, we are living longer lives,” Salinas said. “And so the potential for abuse, neglect and exploitation of our elder community is growing.”

Salinas says the cases reported and investigated by the agency vary in nature; some are physical abuse cases and others are less visible crimes.

“Elderly abuse [can be] financial exploitation, which is when a person is either taking money, assets, or their identity and using it for their own personal gain,” said Salinas.

Below are signs of potential abuse provide by the Adult Protective Services:


  • 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


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


  • 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


  • 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.

To report any suspicion of elderly abuse, you can call 1-800-252-5400, or visit

Correction: The state department reported 5,399 elderly abuse cases in the Valley, not 170,000.

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