Nursing home abuse can take many different forms, and most of us expect it to be physical abuse or neglect. However, a common form of nursing home abuse is elder emotional or psychological abuse. It is important for family members and loved ones of elderly nursing home patients to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of emotional abuse. As a recent article in the Post-Examiner explains, emotional or psychological abuse is one of the most difficult forms of abuse to recognize because it “leaves no physical signs and can be hard to detect.” What should you know about emotional elder abuse, and what are some of the ways to spot it?
What is Emotional or Psychological Elder Abuse?
According to the article, emotional or psychological abuse is defined as “the infliction of mental suffering, anguish, pain, or distress on a nursing home resident either by words, actions, or even inaction.” Emotional elder abuse changes the way an elderly person feels and thinks, and there are rarely obvious physical signs. An article from WebMD defines emotional or psychological abuse similarly, explaining that it can be “any action that hurts a person emotionally.” The article further clarifies that emotional abuse can happen when an individual threatens a senior, yells at a senior, calls a senior names, talks down to a senior, repeatedly ignores a senior; or controls whom the senior can see and where the senior can go.
What does this type of abuse look like in practice? Here are some examples:
- Threatening to physically harm a senior;
- Shouting unnecessarily at a nursing home resident;
- Threatening to take away a nursing home resident’s privileges at the facility;
- Using baby talk to speak to a resident;
- Telling a nursing home resident that her friends or family members do not love her;
- Threatening to institutionalize the nursing home resident; and
- Threatening to isolate a nursing home resident from other seniors at the facility or from loved ones who visit the facility.
Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse: How to Spot it
What signs should you look for when it comes to psychological or emotional abuse? As we mentioned, the signs and symptoms are not as straightforward as you might expect. For instance, emotional abuse does not leave bruises or welts on the body as physical abuse often can. The following are some signs of emotional or psychological abuse that anyone with a loved one in a skilled nursing facility should be able to recognize:
- Nursing home resident being upset without an obvious reason;
- Senior refusing to talk to other people or generally withdrawing;
- Nursing home resident engaging in any type of uncharacteristic behaviors, such as biting nails, rocking back and forth, or generally not acting like himself or herself;
- Unexplained changes in a senior’s eating habits;
- Unexplained changes in a senior’s sleeping habits; and/or
- Any other changes in a nursing home resident’s personality that can not be explained by other factors that do not point to abuse.
Contact a Rancho Bernardo Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
If you are concerned about an elderly loved one and suspect emotional abuse, you should speak with a Rancho Bernardo nursing home lawyer as soon as you can. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.
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(image courtesy of Jeremy Wong)