Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes; Time to Hire a Lawyer?
“She Just Gave Up on Life…”
When it comes to nursing home’s emotional abuse of the elderly, one’s will to live can be the last straw — the thing that takes the elder from enjoying their last years and spending time with friends and family to dying suddenly, before their time. Because, when a person is emotionally abused, that delicate will to live is threatened — and if we lose the will to live, well, we lose pretty much everything else worth fighting for, too.
Emotional abuse in nursing homes is not a random threat or passing phase. Instead, each year, as more and more elderly persons are admitted to nursing homes, more and more elderly persons are submitted to emotional abuse, partly because these nursing homes are not always fully equipped to handle the demands of caring for the elderly. You may believe that emotional abuse of the elderly is due to a “few bad seeds,” to the rare and specific individuals whom you discovered emotionally abusing your elderly loved one. Instead, we often see a different picture, one where the elderly are routinely subjected to emotional and other forms of abuse due to a system of caring for the elderly that is in desperate need of change.
When Someone You Love is Emotionally Abused in a Nursing Home — Think You Know Just How Bad it Can Get?
Sudden death, serious health complications, severe emotional distress that gets in the way of performing necessary self-care like eating, drinking water, bathing and moving… these are just a few of the serious health risks that can come from emotional abuse of the elderly. If you have any suspicions at all about your loved one’s treatment, it may be time to call a lawyer for emotional abuse in nursing homes.
Elder emotional abuse may start as a “small” threat or condescending tone… but in nursing homes, that kind of misconduct can quickly transpire into serious abuse, the kind of elder emotional abuse that can cause an elderly resident to lose faith and self-esteem, ultimately creating an environment where the risk for health complications increases.
Watch For These Signs of Elder Emotional Abuse
Becoming withdrawn or wanting to be isolated from others is one of the key warning signs of elder emotional abuse, especially if the desire to be isolated from others seems to have come out of nowhere. Other forms of isolation and withdrawal can also be signs of elder emotional abuse. These include:
- Suspicious or distrustful of others
- Evasive or prone to pushing others away
- Unresponsive or uncommunicative
- Unusually agitated or physically aggressive
- Suddenly depressed or down
- Fearful of staff or other residents
- Fearful of being touched
- Regressing to self-soothing behavior such as sucking, rocking or biting on nails
- Reluctance to speak freely in front of staff
- Difficulty eating or performing other self-care
- Sudden change in weight
Additional indicators of emotional elder abuse in nursing homes may include:
- Staff saying mean or cruel things to residents
- Staff using demeaning, intimidating or humiliating statements with residents
- Staff using threatening or harassing language with residents
- Ignoring residents emotional needs for emotional and/or verbal contact
- Restricting residents contact with friends, family or other residents
In addition, individuals who experienced elder emotional abuse may become completely unresponsive and uncommunicative, as if they have suffered a stroke. Typically, these forms of isolation and withdrawal point to a severe emotional abuse that caused the individual to turn inwards in order to avoid perceived future threats.
While every case is different, severe elder emotional abuse is tragic to one’s health, causing a severe withdrawal that can make taking medicine, eating or performing other forms of self-care very difficult. In addition, individuals may become unwilling to help nursing attendants in their care, making things like bathing, changing clothes or changing positions in bed or wheelchairs very difficult. Unfortunately, elder emotional abuse may have very serious consequences to one’s health — from the need for hospitalization to complications from missed medications to dehydration and sepsis from severe bed sores or even heart complications or sudden, unexpected death.
Elder Emotional Abuse: What To Do Now
Elder emotional abuse may be more likely in a nursing home environment where the elderly are viewed as insignificant. Unfortunately, our society may have a tendency to minimize the needs of the elderly and, unless caring and patient staff members are hired and trained to always exhibit care and respect for elderly residents, elder emotional abuse may be more likely to occur.
Elder emotional abuse is also more likely in environments where the abuse is allowed to continue without intervention. Sometimes, staff members at nursing homes may feel as if they can “get away with” anything they please — if this is the case, it is up to the resident’s friends and family to speak up against the abuse and make sure that the events that led to the abuse are addressed, either by firing the staff member or by bringing in new training or initiatives for proper care of the elderly residents at all times. If your loved one was hurt by abuse in a nursing home, we encourage you to contact us soon as you can at 866-612-0246 or complete our contact form.
Often emotional abuse of the elderly all comes down to the high-stress, high-turnover nursing home environment. This is even more of a reason, we believe, for nursing homes to be held more accountable for the abuse that occurs inside their walls.
Know someone in a nursing home? Elder emotional abuse is a growing trend, one that can endanger the health of your loved ones.