FAMILY ISSUES | Elders (Senior Citizens)

The elderly are among the most vulnerable members of our society, particularly when their medical condition necessitates placing them in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.

Who are “seniors” or the “elderly”?

The definition of who is a “senior citizen" varies but for the purpose of describing their rights, Texas law defines an elderly person as anyone of age 60 or above.

Elders’ rights

According to Texas law, elderly persons have the all the same rights that any person has under the laws and constitutions of the state of Texas and the United States, but in addition, Texas statutes list a number of other rights for the elderly (click here for a list of these elders’ rights).

Persons providing services to an elderly person must provide to the elderly person a list of his or her rights and responsibilities, including the those listed above, before providing the services or as soon as possible after services are begun. These rights must also be posted in a conspicuous location.

Protection by government agencies for elders in long-term care facilities

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) has been created to administer long-term services and support for individuals who are aging or have cognitive and physical disabilities. DADS also licenses and regulates providers of these services, and administers the state’s guardianship program. Its programs are described on its website,

DADS also operates its Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman (, which assists the elderly and their families by

  1. investigating and resolving complaints made by, or on behalf of, residents,
  2. providing services to help protect the health, safety, welfare and rights of residents of long-term care facilities; and
  3. providing information and assistance in choosing the most appropriate living residence

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of the Ombudsman ( assists the public by providing the following services:

  1. Conducting independent reviews of complaints concerning agency policies or practices
  2. Ensuring that individuals are treated fairly, respectfully and with dignity
  3. Performing informal dispute resolution reviews for certain long-term care facilities

Financial issues

The elderly are a favorite target of scam artists, so family members should be alert to any persons who solicit money or other valuables from their elders. The same considerations and actions apply here as for anyone else in avoiding scams. For more, see our consumer protection page.

The Texas Attorney General also offers information and assistance for seniors on issues ranging from elder abuse to avoiding scams: