Some tactics that emotionally abusive nursing home employees use include verbal intimidation, humiliation, and isolation to mistreat senior citizens or adults with disabilities. If your loved one has been emotionally abused, you may notice changes in their behavior or physical appearance.
How Nursing Home Employees Emotionally Abuse Residents
Employees at long-term care facilities who feel overwhelmed by the stresses of the job, understaffing, and low pay might take their frustrations out on the people in their care. According to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, staff members may emotionally abuse residents by speaking to them in demeaning ways.
For example, employees may call residents offensive names or make jokes about their physical limitations, appearance, or incontinence. Staff members may talk down to seniors to humiliate them either in private or in front of other employees or fellow residents.
Workers may use intimidation or guilt-tripping to get residents to be docile and compliant. Employees may yell at residents when they do something wrong, or simply to intimidate or frighten them. Sone nursing home workers may even threaten to harm residents or expose damaging or embarrassing information about them, whether the information is true or not.
They may blame senior citizens for accidents, even if they know another person is responsible. Staff members may also emotionally abuse nursing home residents by ignoring them. They may give senior adults in their care the silent treatment, ignore calls for help, and refuse to serve meals.
Employees at some facilities may isolate residents by refusing to take them to social gatherings or not allowing them to spend time with other patients, according to the National Institute on Aging. Make sure you and your family learn about tactics that emotionally abusive nursing home employees use, as your loved one may not have the ability to speak for themselves, or they are afraid to.
Emotional abuse is just one type of mistreatment your older family member may face, so you should also stay alert for other types of abuse.
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Possible Signs of Emotional Abuse
The effects of emotional abuse can be devastating. In some cases, it is even more traumatic than physical abuse. It also can be harder to detect emotionally abusive nursing home staff because the effects often are invisible.
Look for changes in your loved one’s demeanor or behavior. If your family member seems anxious, depressed, passive, or submissive, this may indicate they are suffering from emotional abuse. You may also notice behavioral changes at the other end of the spectrum. For example, your relative may be anxious or angry, either in general or whenever a particular person is around.
Your family member may seem withdrawn and may not spend time socializing with friends. The person also may avoid gatherings and group activities. You may notice your loved one avoids eye contact with you or others. You also may see physical changes in your family member.
For instance, he or she may have lost a significant amount of weight. That could be because an abusive staff member is withholding food or because your family member is depressed and has experienced a loss of appetite. If you notice your relative seems tired during your visits when they would usually be alert, this could be a sign that they are having trouble sleeping because of emotional abuse.
Talk to Your Family Member and Others
These types of changes in your loved one may point to emotional abuse, but they can also signal another problem. For example, loss of appetite may be a symptom of a physical illness. Changes in mood or behavior may indicate that your relative has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Talk to your family member and gather as much information as you can. Describe the differences you have noticed and ask your relative to explain, in their words, what has prompted those changes.
Ask open-ended questions about the care your loved one receives at the nursing home, how he or she feels about living there, what he or she thinks about the employees, and whether he or she has any concerns or complaints. If your family member says anything that makes you suspect that emotional abuse is the issue, ask follow-up questions.
You can also discuss your suspicions with other individuals who may be able to provide insight. Talk to other relatives who have visited your loved one recently and other residents and facility employees. Ask if they have noticed the same changes you have and if they have a theory about the cause. If you have reason to believe your loved one is being abused emotionally, raise your concerns with staff members and managers.
Seek Legal Help if Your Loved One Has Been Emotionally Abused
If you suspect that your relative has suffered emotional abuse, you may be able to take legal action to hold the abusive staff member and nursing home accountable. Ben Crump Law, PLLC, may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek financial compensation for the abuse your family member has endured.
We represent clients across the United States who have been harmed by others. Each state has a statute of limitations that restricts the window of opportunity to file a personal injury lawsuit.
A member of our legal team can discuss the law where your family member lives and explain your legal options. Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC, today at (800) 959-1444 to learn more.