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  • Chemical
  • Physical

While there are times when restraining an elderly person is necessary in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it is very rare. In 1987, a federal law was passed that made it illegal to restrain someone unless there was an exceptional medical emergency. Restraints, it should be noted, does not just include being strapped to the bed, as in a physical way, but it can also mean being restrained by unnecessary drugs or sedatives. It is unquestionably and legally considered abuse if there is no medical reason to restrain someone and that elderly nursing home resident is restrained anyway.

It is important to understand that there are two kinds of restrains: physical and chemical. A chemical restraint would be a sedative or medication that would put someone under. Unless the elderly resident’s attending physician orders the person to be prescribed medication, then the nursing home or assisted living facility should not be administering any drugs. Period.

However, in reality, there have been cases where the nursing home has administered very serious and heavy chemical drugs to sedate elderly residents because it is easier to sedate a person than have to tend to their needs and care for them.

This is particularly true in nursing home and assisted living facilities where they are severely understaffed. A common form of chemical restraint could be, for example, valium or morphine if it is administered in a sufficiently high enough quantity that it simply knocks someone out and renders them unconscious.

A physical restraint could be any kind of physical impediment such as a chain, a rope, a strap, a vest, basically anything that forcibly confines someone to a bed or wheelchair against the will. Regardless whether the restraint is physical or chemical, in Texas, the elderly have the right to be advised of whether restraint is right for them and be free of such restraints if it is not.


Elderly nursing home residents are of course more vulnerable and more susceptible to being restrained than people who are not in such facilities. If you visit a loved one, parent, or relative at a nursing home or assisted living facility and notice one or more of the following, you will know there has been an improper use of a restraint:

  • Cuts
  • Bruises
  • Lacerations
  • Broken bones
  • Fractured bones
  • Welts or red marks on the skin

If you notice these on your elderly loved one, you need to immediately inform the management of the nursing home, inform the department of health and human services, the better business bureau, and the Jackman Law Firm so we can help you during your time of need. Those are the signs for an elderly person who has been physically restrained. If your loved one has suffered mental or psychological restraints, some of the signs or symptoms of this are an unfocused gaze, confusion, grogginess, a lack of memory, or any indication of mental impairment that is not part of the elderly person’s normal character.

Any and all of these signs can be indicators of restrains that are improper.