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What Are Some Tactics That Emotionally Abusive Nursing Home Employees Use?

Emotional abuse of nursing home residents can result in psychological damage sometimes worse than in cases of physical neglect and abuse. Nursing home employees that emotionally abuse residents use a variety of tactics to control and humiliate residents.

Verbal Emotional Abuse of Elders

  • Yelling and screaming at the resident while providing care
  • Threatening to harm the elder or someone that he or she loves
  • Pretending to harm the resident
  • Belittling the resident through insults, name-calling, and ridicule
  • Intimidating the resident to get them to behave in a particular manner or perform a certain act
  • Talking down to an elder as if they were a child, especially to those elders that must use incontinence pads
  • Embarrassing or humiliating the senior in front of others about a variety of things including physical attributes, weight, incontinence, and more
  • Putting the resident on a guilt trip to get them to behave a certain way
  • Being excessively cold and callous
  • Blaming or scapegoating accidents, spills, and other things on the resident

Non-Verbal Emotional Abuse of Elders

  • Terrorizing the elder through letters, signals, or other non-verbal means
  • Giving the silent treatment to a resident when they speak to you
  • Ignoring the residents’ call buttons or requests for help
  • Isolating the resident from other residents
  • Withholding food, water, or bathroom access
  • Treating the elder like a child with non-verbal actions
  • Hiding or taking personal belongings

Mental & Physical Aftermath of Emotional Abuse

Unless emotional abuse results in self-harm, noticing the mental aftermath of emotional abuse requires you to pay close attention to your elder and learn about common signs. Emotional abuse is difficult to catch and often goes unreported. If you notice that he or she is particularly uncomfortable in another person’s presence, you should discuss it with your loved one and the nursing home administration as soon as possible. When several behavioral changes occur simultaneously, it strongly indicates that your loved one is experiencing repeated abuse. Each person reacts differently when they have been abused, but here are some common mental indicators of emotional abuse:

Mental Indicators of Emotional Abuse of Elders

  • Fear and anxiety that goes beyond the resident’s normal levels
  • Depression
  • Withdrawal from other residents, activities, meals, etc.
  • Resident angers easily or becomes frustrated or agitated
  • Feels helpless and hopeless
  • Loses interest and enthusiasm for activities and people that they used to like
  • Loss of confidence in decision-making
  • Feels passive and acts submissive
  • Any personality or change in behavior that is out of the ordinary

You might also notice physical changes in your loved ones if they have been emotionally abused by a nursing home employee. Some physical changes or conditions might simply be illness, making it difficult to discern between sickness and physical symptoms of mental anguish. Make sure to monitor your loved one closely and investigate anything out of the ordinary. Here are some common physical symptoms of emotional abuse:

Physical Indicators of Emotional Abuse of Elders

  • Malnourishment as evidenced by sudden weight loss
  • Difficulty falling asleep or rising multiple times during the night
  • Refusal to meet or speak with family, friends, and other residents
  • Refuses to eat or drink
  • Refuses prescribed medications
  • Avoids eye contact because of feelings of shame
  • A visibly noticeable loss in self-confidence
  • Low level of responsiveness
  • Feelings of lethargy
  • Lack of physical activity compared to the resident’s usual amount

If you notice any of these mental or physical indicators in the elder that you love, he or she might be a victim of emotional abuse. Also, it’s important to remember that emotional and physical abuse are not always mutually exclusive; if you suspect emotional abuse, also look for signs of physical abuse.

Try talking to your loved one to get information about the abuse and keep impeccable records of all communication with your loved one and the nursing home administration about the alleged abuse. DCF will assign an investigator to your case and share information with the law enforcement and other relevant county and state entities.

Seek the Counsel of a Skilled Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

If your loved one has been a victim of emotional abuse by a nursing home employee, he or she might be entitled to compensation for economic and non-economic losses that were incurred because of the abuse. Consult with a nursing home abuse attorney who will guide you through the process and help you and your loved one determine the next steps.