Psychological Abuse of Nursing Home Residents Is Common—and Often Hidden

Distraught Elderly Woman With Head on HandsEmotional abuse of elderly residents of nursing homes is one of the most common types of abuse and neglect they suffer. It is also one of the most difficult for family members to detect. There are no physical signs of the abuse—such as bruises—and the injuries suffered are often psychological. Sadly, many residents suffer the abuse in silence, afraid that they will make the abuse even worse if they tell a family member about it or report it to other nursing home staff.

What Is Emotional Abuse of Nursing Home Residents?

Emotional abuse—also known as psychological abuse—occurs when a caregiver causes a nursing home resident to suffer emotional pain or stress. The abuse can be verbal or nonverbal, and the perpetrator can be a staff member, volunteer, another nursing home resident, or anyone else giving care to the resident. Some of the forms of psychological abuse of a nursing home resident include the following:

  • Intimidating by yelling or threatening
  • Humiliating or ridiculing
  • Scapegoating and blaming the resident on a regular basis
  • Ignoring the resident and not attending to his needs
  • Isolating the resident from his family and friends
  • Terrorizing or menacing the resident

Symptoms of Psychological Abuse

The signs of psychological abuse are mostly psychological, so you will need to be extra vigilant in observing changes in your loved one’s emotional state. Sometimes these symptoms are caused by other situations going on in his life, such as an illness, new physical or psychological limitation, or adjustments to living in a nursing home—making identifying abuse more challenging. Signs that your family member could be emotionally abused include:

  • He has low self-esteem.
  • He avoids eye contact when talking to others or you.
  • He does not speak openly because he is afraid of staff members at the nursing home finding out about the abuse.
  • He often seems hopeless, scared, or disturbed in general.
  • He seems withdrawn, shy, depressed, or anxious—unusual given his normal personality traits.
  • He exhibits a desire to hurt himself or someone else.
  • He experiences sudden changes in his sleeping or eating.
  • He has sudden mood changes, which was not something he experienced in the past.
  • He is prevented from seeing other people or calling them.
  • He is not allowed to join into social interactions or do the daily activities he enjoys.
  • He is not allowed to make his own decisions if he is mentally able to do so.

How Is Psychological Abuse Treated?

If you discover that your loved one is being emotionally abused at a nursing home, you may need to move him to another facility if the abuse is not stopped quickly. Stopping the abuse and getting your family member treatment are critical. Otherwise, your loved one could experience psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression, or a worsening of his current medical problems. Psychological abuse is often treated as follows:

  • Counseling. A social worker, counselor, or other mental health care provider may help your loved one deal with the depression, anxiety, and fear caused by the abuse that was suffered.
  • Medications. Medications may help your family member calm down, relax, and to sleep better.
  • Medical care. If the abuse caused a medical condition to worsen or caused a new medical problem, your family member could need other medical treatments and medication to treat his illnesses.

Do you suspect a loved one is a victim of emotional abuse at a nursing home? The experienced elder abuse and neglect attorneys at Brauns Law are here to assist you in stopping the abuse and obtaining the compensation for the emotional trauma he suffered. Fill out our online form or call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

Your family member may not be able to stand up for his rights to stop the physical abuse he is experiencing and to seek the compensation for his injuries that he deserves. Call Brauns Law today to learn how we can help you protect your loved one.