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Emotional Abuse Occurring In Nursing Homes

To those that currently have a family member in a nursing home care facility or are considering that option, there may have concerns about the way they will be treated when you aren’t around. While many nurses are professional, loving, and treat those under their care like family.

It’s crucial for elderly individuals living in a nursing home setting to have caretakers who are protective, responsive and caring due to their vulnerable positions. Unfortunately, not everyone in the elderly care profession will have the same level of compassion, and it is essential to be aware of individuals who seem forceful, dismissive, unkind, or aggressive.

Verbal or emotional abuse can take its toll on mental and emotional health. Family members of nursing home residents may see pre-existing conditions worsen or new ones arise. Sometimes the facility may be understaffed, undertrained, or under supervised. This can lead to stressful situations and excessive strain put on the individuals who work there. However, it is still their responsibility to protect the health of the residents living in the nursing home.


Types of Emotional Abuse

Nursing home staff will use various forms of emotional abuse on residents that could lead to harmful effects to a resident’s mental health. In order to be able to identify abuse in nursing homes, families of residents need to be aware of the different types of emotional abuse which include:

  • Ridiculing
  • Scapegoating
  • Humiliation
  • Intimidation
  • Threats

Abusive nursing home staff may also isolate residents by not allowing them to socialize or by unnecessarily controlling their daily lives.


Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse can be difficult to detect and prove. This is why its important for families of residents to document instances where they believe emotional abuse is occurring and write down the specific details of each event. Talking with a loved one and noticing how they react to particular nursing home staff members are also effective ways to identify nursing home abuse.

Signs of emotional abuse to look out for:

  • Unusual changes in behavior. They may begin self-soothing behaviors such as mumbling to themselves, sucking their thumb or rocking.
  • A sudden intensifying of dementia symptoms. 
  • Visibly increased emotional or psychological distress, including seeming disturbed or scared.
  • The sudden appearance of low self-esteem, depression, mood swings or anxiety. 
  • Changes in their personality such as acting more shy or withdrawn.
  • Sudden changes in regular patterns or eating, sleeping, socializing or routine.
  • Belittling or threatening behavior on the part of the caregiver, including being controlling, demeaning or verbally abusive. 

What To Do If Your Loved One Is Being Emotionally Abused

A loved one may need to be evaluated for the psychological consequences of emotional abuse, and afterward, a family member may need to contact the authorities, including the representatives of Adult Protective Services to report the case. Families of abused residents may also want to contact a lawyer to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit and learn about receiving compensation for the distress or mental health deterioration their loved one may have suffered. They may require new, additional treatment such as mood stabilizing medication, therapeutic or psychological intervention.

KBA Attorneys can help make sure you receive appropriate compensation. Take action on this type of abuse and protect your loved one.