East Texas Woman is Accused of 'Injury to the Elderly'

Sharon Boulware is on trial for injury to the elderly. She took in senior citizens, gave them medication, and fed them. The problem is, she was not licensed or registered as a health care worker.

After Jewel Russell started living in Boulware's Huntington home, she was hospitalized with bed sores that went all the way through to the bone. Russell spent nearly a week in the hospital after having surgery for the bedsores. She recovered and lived another three years.

Raymond Davis died from a bacterial infection, just one hour after leaving Boulware's residence. He was also malnourished, emaciated, and suffered from pneumonia, and septic shock.

Both victims were in Boulware's care back in 1999. The case took seven years to go to trial because Boulware jumped bail and disappeared. Authorities caught up with her this year.

Local health care providers advise families to only place their loved ones in reputable and regulated facilities.

Amy Thomas, Health Care Administrator for Pinecrest Retirement Community, said families should also make sure the facility is "licensed by the State of Texas and you should also look to see what types of deficiencies that they have had in the past and what they have done to correct that."

The state makes sure its nursing homes are well-staffed and residents are properly fed. In a licensed nursing facility, there has to be a dietician or dietician consultant, as well as a pharmacy consultant to audit medications.

"You'll need to have nursing personnel staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You'll need someone trained in giving their medications and making sure that [they are] given accurately."

Families that choose to hire a 'round the clock caregiver should also take precautions.

"It's hard to find someone who is responsible to take care of that person and to give the medications adequately," Thomas said.

Russell's son told jurors his mother only lived with Boulware for six months, but her health started declining after she got there. He said he trusted Boulware to properly take care of his mother because he saw what he thought was quality care for other residents in the home.

If convicted, Boulware faces up to life in prison.

If you need help or more information on finding care for an elderly relative, go to the Texas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging web site at www.tahsa.org or the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging web site at www.aahsa.org.