Mental abuse, also known as psychological or emotional abuse, is one of the most common forms of abuse inflicted upon the elderly in nursing homes. Unlike physical abuse which leaves physical evidence on the victim, mental abuse is difficult to track and often goes unchecked.
The consequences of mental abuse in nursing homes can be severe. So, if you suspect that your loved one in a nursing home is a victim, you may want to consider taking legal action against the nursing home.
Overview of Mental Abuse
As already established, it is the infliction of emotional harm, distress, and anguish on an individual, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even though mental abuse can be difficult to detect due to its subtlety, it can cause the resident to feel helpless, depressed, sad, anxious, and fearful.
This often results in severe emotional damage and can contribute to the decline of the victim’s cognitive and physical health. In most cases, the abuse is inflicted by the nursing home staff, but other residents are also capable of being mentally abusive.
Types of Mental Abuse in Nursing Homes
Generally speaking, mental abuse can fall under two categories—verbal and nonverbal.
Verbal abuse may include:
- Shouting or yelling at the resident
- Threatening the patient
- Humiliating, shaming, or embarrassing the patient privately or in the presence of other residents or staff members
- Mocking the resident’s disabilities
- Insulting or ridiculing them if they have difficulties performing or completing tasks
- Trivializing or ignoring the resident’s concerns
- Speaking badly of the resident to other staff members or residents in a loud voice with the intention of demeaning and intimidating them
- Accusing or blaming the resident or telling them they deserve their current predicament
- Being callous and mean by saying hurtful things to the resident
Nonverbal Mental Abuse
This type of mental abuse is subtle and may even cause more damage than the first as the victim may find it difficult to express the abuse to others. A few include:
- Giving the resident threatening looks to scare or intimidate them
- Isolating the resident from family visits, social activities, or other residents.
- Ignoring the resident when they ask for help
- Failing to acknowledge their presence and giving them the silent treatment
- Preventing them from going outside or talking to anyone
- Moving the resident’s assistive devices such as glasses, wheelchairs, canes, and walkers from their reach
- Limiting their access to food, water, and the bathroom.
- Hiding the resident’s personal items to evoke distress and disorientation.
- Treating the patient as if they were a child
- Terrorizing them by pretending to cause physical harm
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Warning Signs of Mental Abuse in the Elderly
Since mental abuse can easily go unchecked, it is essential to look out for sudden changes in your loved one’s personality. If you notice any of the signs below, consider taking immediate steps to protect them from further damage.
- Withdrawal from social activities or sudden disinterest in activities they once enjoyed.
- A sudden change in personality that is uncharacteristic of them, including bursts of anger, anxiety, or sadness
- Sudden references to death indicating suicidal thoughts or proclivity to self-harm
- Disregard for personal hygiene and failing to take medication
- Obvious changes in weight, eating habits, and sleeping schedule
- Constant references or fear of a particular staff member or resident
- Signs of low self-esteem, excessive fear, nervousness, and lack of confidence
- Repetitive behavior indicating anxiety such as nail-biting, hair pulling, teeth grinding, thumb sucking, and rocking back and forth.
- Depression and social withdrawal
Red Flags That Could Indicate Abuse in Nursing Homes
If you are concerned about the wellbeing of your loved one in a nursing home, watch out for these warning signs in their caretakers:
- History of substance abuse or elder abuse
- Treating your loved one like a child instead of an adult
- Tired and stressful looking staff
- Acting defensive, evasive, or aggressive when questioned by you or other staff members
- Preventing your loved one from speaking with you alone or others alone
- Lack of concern or exaggerated concern for you or your loved one
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Let Ben Crump Law, PLLC Help You Today
As a personal injury law firm with a history of fighting against mental abuse in nursing homes, we believe we can protect your loved one from further harm. We may also be able to recover compensation for their suffering. Call us now at 800-959-1444 to discuss your case in our free consultation.
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