It is horrific to think that someone, or even multiple people, in the nursing home you trusted with the care of your loved one could be abusing them emotionally. Unfortunately, emotional abuse in nursing homes happens all too often.
According to the Administration for Community Living (ACL), approximately 10% of adults who are over the age of 60 have experienced some type of abuse, whether it is physical, verbal, financial, or emotional. The survivors of emotional abuse have higher rates of depression and are more likely to withdraw from their usual social circles.
Understanding Emotional Abuse
According to the American Psychological Association, emotional abuse occurs when someone intentionally inflicts emotional pain and anguish through verbal or non-verbal behaviors.
It could include behavior like ridiculing, belittling, or humiliating an older person, intimidating them by yelling at them or conveying threats, blaming them or demeaning them, isolating them from their friends or family, or ignoring them entirely.
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Signs of Elder Abuse
It can be hard, sometimes, to differentiate between the signs of elder abuse and signs that your loved one is simply getting older. However, there are a few indicators of a bigger problem, such as emotional abuse and neglect. Some of the signs, according to the National Institute of Aging, are:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Seems scared or hopeless
- Has sudden, unexplained mood swings
- No longer speaks openly
- Unexplained and sudden weight loss
- Signs of trauma, such as rocking back and forth
- Becoming withdrawn for unexplained reasons
- No longer participates in activities that they enjoyed in the past
- Suddenly less concerned about appearance or appears messy with unwashed hair or clothes that are dirty
How To Prevent Emotional Abuse in a Nursing Home
Being there for your loved one is their greatest defense against emotional abuse in nursing homes at the hands of caregivers and other staff. When nursing home staff sees that you are visiting frequently and on a regular basis, and notes that you are engaging with an open conversation with your loved one, they will be more inclined to treat them with the respect they deserve.
Frequent visits give you the opportunity to take note of how the staff treats your loved one and other residents in the nursing home. Building a strong relationship with your loved one and encouraging open communication also increases the likelihood that they will tell you if they are being mistreated.
What To Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused, it is important to step in and act. Some elderly adults will not complain about or report the abuse to a supervisor within the nursing home or to a loved one who could help. They may be afraid that if they tell someone about the way they are being treated, it will only make the situation worse.
It is important to know that emotional abuse will not go away on its own. If you think your loved one is being abused, find a moment when the two of you are alone to talk to them privately. Let them know what changes you have noticed in their behavior and express your concern. Reassure them that you want them to get the help they need and that they do not need to worry about retaliation if they do report that they are being mistreated.
Call emergency services if there is an immediate, life-threatening danger or report any concerns you have to the local adult protective services or to the police.
You can also consider hiring a lawyer to explore your options for filing charges against specific individuals or the nursing home, especially if your loved one suffered physical injuries or severe emotional distress as a result of the abuse.
A lawyer who works on nursing home abuse cases understands how to gather evidence to prove that abuse was occurring. They understand how painful these situations can be for families and can take the burden off your shoulders, pursuing compensation to the fullest extent of your loved one’s injuries while you can focus on helping your loved one deal with the trauma of the emotional abuse.
For a free, no-risk review of your loved one’s emotional abuse case, call the Ben Crump Law, PLLC, today at 800-959-1444. Together, we can explore what options you have for pursuing compensation for your loved one’s damages.