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Life After Nursing Home Abuse

As terrible as it is, nursing home abuse does happen. Abuse can take many forms, and the aftermath of abuse can also take many forms. After the abuse has been identified and stopped and you have discussed your legal options with a nursing home abuse lawyer the process of healing is just beginning, and each person will handle it in his or her own way. However, with a little knowledge, you can offer your loved one the help necessary to recover from the physical or emotional wounds and move forward.

One Size Does Not Fit All

The process for coping with the aftermath of abuse in nursing homes is as varied as the type of abuse or the personality of the person who has been abused. Some people will require a period of physical recovery, while some will require psychological counseling. It is important to remember that each case is different, and each person’s response to abuse will be different. This is because each person experiences abuse differently and has varying degrees of coping ability, depending on life experience and circumstance.

Given this, you should remember that your loved one should be dissuaded from feeling any shame about the level of impact the abuse has had in his or her life. There is no way to know which person will prove to be emotionally resilient to a particular instance of abuse and which will suffer acutely. In the same way that elderly people have little control over the circumstances of their abuse, they have little control over how their minds and bodies recover or how the abuse will impact their lives in the long term.

Regaining Control

You and your loved one should focus on the elements of recovery that you do have control over c the choice to seek help and the commitment to recovery. In most cases, an individual who commits to a full recovery will have a significant advantage over the individual who simply accepts that his or her life has been permanently damaged or “ruined” by the abuse.

In the process of dealing with the aftermath of nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect, it is important that the elderly person not blame himself or herself for being abused. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances of the abuse were; the first step to recovery is not taking the blame. It is common for victims to take the blame for their own abuse, but this is extremely damaging to the prospects for recovery. While the elderly person may feel this way, he or she should be reminded that there were probably very few — if any — occasions when the abuse could have been avoided. The abuser likely used a position of authority and power at the nursing home facility to take advantage of the elderly residents.

Counseling and a Change in Environment

The services of an abuse recovery counselor should be enlisted. Counseling can take the form of a one-on-one session with a professional trained in the necessary skills to help your loved one cope with abuse recovery, or it may take the form of group therapy sessions. Whatever the case, along with the physical healing that must take place after abuse, you should do whatever you can to help facilitate the emotional and psychological healing as well.

One of the ways you may need to help is in finding a new nursing home or care facility. Even if the abuser has been removed from the staff, remaining in the same facility in which the nursing home abuse occurred could be potentially damaging for the elderly person and could hinder the healing process. Finding a nursing home the first time will have been a trying experience, but you must be prepared to begin the search again if your loved one needs a new environment in which to recover from the abuse.

Nursing home abuse is a horrible and traumatic experience, both for the elderly person and for the family, but it does not have to be permanently crippling. With prompt action and thoughtful, respectful care, recovery can be achieved, and the trauma of abuse can be overcome.

“How to Help Someone You Think Is Being Abused”

“Oregon Counseling — Understanding and Dealing with Abuse” 17 January 2007.