Signs Your Elderly Loved One Is Being Emotionally Abused - Mazow | McCullough, PC
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Signs Your Elderly Loved One Is Being Emotionally Abused in a Nursing Home

In nursing homes throughout America, abuse and neglect is jarringly common. But not all of this abuse is physical in nature. A 2018 study in the European Journal of Health revealed that emotional and psychological abuse is the most prevalent, with just over a third of all patients surveyed having been affected.

Below, learn about the risk of emotional abuse in long-term care facilities and how a qualified nursing home abuse lawyer can help you protect your elderly loved one.

About Emotional Abuse and Its Impact

Psychological abuse has far-reaching implications, particularly when it occurs in nursing home settings to highly vulnerable people. Unlike assault, emotional abuse is often invisible but can inflict lasting trauma on the mental well-being of elderly residents.

This type of abuse is characterized by behaviors that are meant to cause the victim psychological distress and mental anguish, including verbal abuse, intimidation, manipulation, humiliation, control, and isolation.

Top Signs Your Loved One Is Being Emotionally Abused in a Nursing Home

The idea that someone could be purposely causing your loved one distress is a heartbreaking concept. Knowing what to look for is key to early intervention and being able to stop the abuse before it progresses to something more serious.

Here are some of the most common signs your family member is being emotionally abused in a nursing home or assisted living facility:

Sudden or unexplained changes in mood or behavior. Abrupt changes in a loved one’s mood or behaviors that can’t be attributed to known causes can indicate the experience of emotional distress, especially if their ability to verbalize their circumstances is limited.

Withdraw from previously enjoyed activities. If your family member starts to avoid activities they once loved, this may be a sign they are feeling down or depressed. Be open to the possibility that external factors like mistreatment may be the cause.

Sleeping too much or too little. Emotional abuse victims may have difficulty falling asleep, especially if their abuser is nearby. Or, they may sleep too much in an attempt to escape or “get away” from the abuse.

Becoming unusually agitated or aggressive. Outbursts of aggression or agitation that are out of character for your loved one, especially if they begin perpetrating abuse against others, could be a cue that an authority figure has first abused them.

Indications of self-harm or neglect of basic needs. Visible signs of self-harm or neglect can be red flags for emotional abuse, like unexplained injuries that are obviously self-inflicted or a decline in personal hygiene that your loved one was once capable of doing.

Nervousness or “spacing out” around nursing home staff. If your loved one appears nervous or disengaged specifically in the presence of nursing home staff, this could signal that your loved one is afraid of someone in their environment.

What to Do Next

If you see that your loved one is exhibiting signs of possible abuse, you may be unsure of what you can do or how to stop it. This is a difficult situation for families, but fortunately, there is plenty of support available from professionals, including protective services, law enforcement officials, counselors, and more.

Start by paying close attention to your loved one’s behavior patterns and document any specific incidents of suspected abuse, including dates, times, and relevant details. Create a supportive environment and encourage your family member to share their experiences without fear of judgment or retribution.

Let your loved one know they’re not alone and that you’re there to help. Talk to them about acceptable and unacceptable behavior and empower them to communicate with staff assertively when faced with mistreatment. When abuse is severe or is physical, sexual, or financial in nature, a police report should be made and the appropriate authorities involved in an investigation of the facility.

Working with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can help make this process easier and can increase the likelihood that you will be able to successfully protect your loved one and help them get the justice they deserve.

Contact Our Salem Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Now for Help

At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we have helped dozens of families like yours investigate nursing home abuse and hold the people responsible accountable for their actions in a public court of law. We can help you, too.

Contact us today at (978) 744-8000 or toll-free at (855) 693-9084 to learn more about nursing home neglect and abuse or to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your case in detail.

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