According to the 2008 National Elder Mistreatment Study, 13.5 of Americans 60 years or older suffer emotional abuse. While this is one of the most common types of elder abuse, it can be one of the most difficult to identify. It leaves no physical marks and loved ones often confuse the signs with symptoms of advancing dementia or other age-related conditions. Many abusers to hide their behaviors from supervisors and family members, making it hard to spot emotional abuse in a nursing home.
What is emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse occurs when a caregiver, family member, fellow resident or other party intentionally inflicts psychological pain. Emotional abuse may be verbal, nonverbal in nature, or committed through acts of omission. Some common methods of emotional abuse include:
- Insults and name calling
- Berating, threatening, and other harassment
- Isolation from peers or friends and family
- Preventing victims from regular activities
- Giving the silent treatment
- Treating the resident as a child
One of the most common types of emotional abuse according to the National Elder Mistreatment Study is actively ignoring the person. In many cases, this behavior also includes neglect. Failing to give a resident the attention they need for personal hygiene or healthcare tasks can lead to both emotional and physical pain for the senior. For example, when a caregiver does not attend to an immobile resident regularly, the senior may develop bedsores and other complications. Not only is the senior psychologically hurt because they feel abandoned, they also suffer painful physical injuries as well.
What are some of the signs of emotional abuse in a nursing home?
Signs of emotional abuse are often difficult to spot, especially when your loved one suffers from dementia or is nonverbal. Investigate further if the senior is:
- Unusually agitated or inconsolable
- Withdrawing or becoming uncharacteristically non-communicative
- Displaying unusual or new self-soothing behaviors such as biting, rocking, and sucking
- Dreading a particular caregiver
- Reporting they have suffered verbal or emotional abuse
What do I do if I suspect a staff member is emotionally abusing my loved one or another resident?
If you witness any of the above signs of elder abuse, or suspect that your loved one is suffering from abuse, you should take action as soon as possible to provide relief to your loved one. Contacting nursing home management to address the situation or assist, contacting your local elder care ombudsman or transferring your family member to another facility are all options to consider depending on the specifics of the situation.
If you feel the senior may be in immediate danger of physical harm or needs medical care, do not hesitate to call 911 for assistance.
Do I need to enlist the help of an attorney?
Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A. works to protect seniors from abusers and to help them recover damages related to emotional abuse in a nursing home. If you believe your aging loved one was the victim of any type of nursing home abuse in Ohio or southeast Michigan, our nursing home abuse attorneys can help you understand the laws that protect your loved one’s welfare and secure the compensation she deserves.
Contact us today at 419-843-6663 for an appointment.