Emotional Abuse and Social Media in San Bernardino County Nursing Homes

Long before social media platforms entered into wide and nearly constant use by people of all age groups in the US, nursing home abuse and neglect were serious problems in San Bernardino nursing homes and in facilities across the state. In other words, social media has not caused a rise in nursing home abuse or neglect in Southern California, but it has made new forms of emotional abuse possible that can have serious psychological repercussions for nursing home residents. A recent report from Insider discusses the prevalence of “social media mistreatment” affecting nursing home residents throughout the country. 

What do you need to know about emotional abuse and its rise on social media? And what can you do for an elderly loved one who is being mistreated? Our San Bernardino nursing home abuse attorneys can tell you more. 

Understanding Elder Emotional and Psychological Abuse 

While there are many different forms of nursing home abuse and neglect — including physical abuse, sexual abuse, and passive neglect — emotional and psychological abuse can often be among the most difficult types of abuse to identify because they do not often produce visible signs or evidence. 

These types of abuse, according to the American Psychological Association, refer to situations where a nursing home resident is the target of verbal abuse, like yelling or the target of threats, insulting comments, disrespectful comments, or actions intended to cause embarrassment.

Role of Social Media

Emotional and psychological abuse now often involves social media, as the Insider article points out. It discusses recent research conducted by a gerontologist at the University of Connecticut who found more than 100 recent incidents from 31 different states. Those examples “range in severity from sharing personal information on social media without the residents’ consent to ‘demeaning’ and ‘dehumanizing’ behavior caught on video and posted online to social media platforms, such as TikTok and Snapchat.” Videos have shown staff members at nursing homes engaging in humiliating behaviors for residents, especially those who are particularly vulnerable to cognitive dementia. One video cited in the research, for example, reveals a nursing home staff member “twerking in a resident’s face,” while another video shows “a staff member pulling a resident’s wig off and hitting the resident in the head with the wig.”

These types of psychologically violent and harmful behaviors have been documented for at least the past decade, and the Insider report suggests that they may be increasing. A ProPublica report from 2017 documented privacy violations and abuse involving social media that had been reported since 2012 — over a five-year period — and found more than five dozen examples. Given that abuse is frequently underreported, and that the rates of this type of abuse have risen, it is more important than ever to be aware and to watch for signs of harm.

Contact a San Bernardino County Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse Lawyer

Our elderly loved ones in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Southern California deserve to be treated with dignity and to have their rights respected. If you have any concerns about nursing home negligence or abuse, whether or not it involves social media, you should seek assistance from an experienced San Bernardino nursing home abuse and neglect attorney. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information about how we can help you.


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