Emotional Abuse of the Elderly in Nursing Homes
Emotional abuse occurs when an elderly person suffers emotional pain, anguish, or distress as a result of some verbal or nonverbal act. This form of victimization is also known as mental or psychological abuse. The degree of emotional abuse endured by an elder can range from rough or condescending language to extreme forms of punishment. Typically, emotional abuse is accompanied by other forms of abuse, particularly physical abuse. Tragically, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, hundreds of thousands of senior citizens are abused every year. Countless others are harmed or impaired but are unwilling or unable to report the incidents.
Signs and Symptoms of Elder Emotional Abuse
Elder abuse presents certain difficulties as a result of the age of the victims. Since the residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities may be disabled or unable to communicate normally with loved ones, it is thought that a shocking 1 out of 6 instances of abuse actually go unreported. For the family members of elderly patients, it can also be a challenge to tell the difference between certain forms of self-neglect that occur with aging and actual maltreatment.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of elder emotional abuse include:
- Verbal abuse, including yelling, screaming, cursing, browbeating, and insults
- Treating an elder like a child or infant
- Depriving an elder of essential services
- Scapegoating or blaming
- Ignoring the elder
- Isolating an elderly person from friends and family
- Isolating an elderly person from other residents or patients
- Threats to harm or physically abuse an elder
- Punishing an elder, particularly using bizarre or inappropriate methods such confinement, isolation, tying down, terrorizing, or “gaslighting”
Preventing Elder Physical Abuse
Many in the public health sector refer to elder abuse as an “invisible epidemic.” The single most effective way for family members or guardians to prevent elder maltreatment is to visit relatives in nursing home or care facilities as often as possible. Upon visiting a facility, keep an eye out for unacceptable or unhealthy conditions within the facility. When visiting with a loved one, try to meet with them alone and talk to them, ask lots of questions, and most importantly listen to them. It can be very difficult for victims to report abuse out of misplaced feelings of shame and guilt. Instead, counteract self-blame by empowering and encouraging your elder to speak up when they don’t feel well or aren’t being treated well. That way, if they ever do suffer some form of emotional or physical abuse, they will be primed to report it to you before it gets out of control.
Pennsylvania & New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
No matter how vigilant we are, we cannot watch our loved ones all the time. For those with an elder who has suffered emotional abuse while under the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility, please contact us immediately to protect your legal rights. You can reach our team of elder abuse attorneys toll-free at 1-855-462-3330 or by using our online contact form.