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Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes

Not all abuse that occurs in nursing homes is physical. Nursing home residents can face emotional, psychological, sexual, and financial abuse at their caregivers’ hands.

Sometimes, they face two or more types of abuse at once.

Emotional abuse is the use of emotional manipulation to control another individual. It can be used to keep a victim compliant with other forms of abuse, like financial exploitation or sexual abuse. It can also be used simply to maintain a specific dynamic in a relationship with the victim. When an elderly individual is targeted with emotional abuse, it is a form of elder abuse.

How Emotional Abuse Hurts Elderly Victims

Any victim who faces emotional abuse can suffer reduced self esteem and feelings of self-doubt. In a nursing home setting, this can make the victim more dependent on his or her abuser, putting him or her at a greater risk of suffering from other types of abuse. Emotional abuse can cause the victim to withdraw from relationships with friends and family and increase his or her risk of suffering from depression and anxiety, which can have an impact on his or her physical health as well.

Signs your Loved One is Being Emotionally Abused

Visiting your loved one regularly makes it easier for you to notice changes in his or her behavior or mood. Signs of emotional abuse include:

  • A persistent state of fear or anxiety;
  • Social withdrawal;
  • Mood swings;
  • Changed sleeping patterns;
  • Loss of appetite or eating more than usual;
  • Reduced self-confidence; and
  • Poor hygiene and other signs that he or she is not performing day-to-day personal care acts.

Take Action to Protect your Loved One

Talk to your loved one’s caregivers about the changes you noticed in his or her behavior. Do not accuse them of abuse, but do bring up your concerns. If you do not receive a satisfactory answer – keep in mind that as individuals age, their mental decline or medications they take can cause changes in their demeanor and behavior – discuss your concerns with an experienced elder abuse lawyer. He or she can help you determine the right course of action to take, which could involve filing a claim with your state’s adult protective services. It could also mean filing an elder abuse lawsuit to recover compensation for your loved one’s damages, which could include the cost of moving to a new facility and the cost of counseling to recover from the trauma of abuse.

Work with an Experienced Elder Law Attorney

If your loved one is being abused in his or her nursing home, be an advocate and take a stand for his or her rights. Contact an experienced elder law attorney to discuss your options for pursuing compensation for your loved one’s damages and potentially recovering punitive damages for the nursing home’s actions. Schedule your initial consultation with Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. today to get started.

Published April 25, 2018
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