What Families Need To Know About Psychological Abuse In Nursing Homes

Nursing home residents often suffer abuse and neglect in silence. One of the most common occurrences is psychological abuse. The signs of physical abuse are easy to detect with bruising or signs of tenderness with touch. It is not as easy for family members to see emotional abuse.

Residents don’t always speak up on their behalf, either. Many may not even realize that abusive behavior is a problem. Sometimes patients are afraid to report abuse or neglect to family or staff for fear of repercussions. There are signs you can watch for and things families need to know about psychological abuse in a nursing home.

What Is Psychological Abuse in a Nursing Home?

Psychological abuse in a nursing home happens when a caregiver causes a patient emotional distress. The abuse may be verbal or nonverbal. The abuser may be a staff member, another resident, a volunteer, or any other person with access to the patient. Some common forms of emotional abuse include:

  • Intimidation or threats
  • Humiliation
  • Placing blame on the resident
  • Neglecting patient needs
  • Terrorizing, harassing, or frightening the patient
  • Isolating the patient from family, friends, or other residents

If you suspect psychological abuse, you should report the matter to the nursing home administration and oversight authorities, and you may even seek the counsel of a nursing home abuse attorney.

Symptoms of Psychological Abuse

Bruises, cuts, and scrapes are easy to see. Emotional scars are not as easy to recognize. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), some of the things you should take note of are changes in your loved one’s behavior, including:

  • Lower self-esteem
  • Not making eye contact during conversations
  • Emitting feelings of hopelessness or despair
  • Not speaking openly near staff members or specific residents
  • Seeming depressed, withdrawn, or even anxious
  • Attempting self-harm
  • Sleeping or eating habits change
  • Seeming isolated or kept away from activities with other residents
  • Experiencing abnormal sudden mood changes or agitation
  • A rapid decline into a state of dementia or worsening of conditions

Awareness of subtle changes in your loved one’s behavior can help identify abuse and neglect before it creates permanent damage.

Reporting Psychological Abuse in a Nursing Home

You should always report abuse or neglect in a nursing home immediately. Some nursing homes have social workers or an ombudsman who can help you. You can also file reports with:

  • Adult Protective Services (APS)
  • Abuse hotlines if available in your area
  • Police

A law firm can help you file a report. Depending on the agency, they may conduct an investigation, take other appropriate action, or recommend the steps for family members to take to protect their loved ones. Unfortunately, many elder abuse cases are never reported.

Can Your Family Member Receive Compensation for Emotional Abuse?

Yes, your family member can sue for compensation in abuse and neglect cases. After you contact a nursing home abuse attorney, they will begin an independent investigation. Some of the information the attorney will seek includes:

  • Proof of your relationship status
  • Medical records and bills detailing injuries and treatment
  • Witness reports
  • Video, photographic, or audio evidence of the abuse

The law firm will determine the amount of compensation your family member might be entitled to. They will evaluate all liable parties and file claims against individual parties, the facility, or third-party agencies. Some areas where your family member may receive compensation include:

  • Reimbursement for medical care
  • Psychological counseling or therapy for the patient and family members
  • Cost reimbursements for the residence
  • Additional out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering and mental anguish

When Abuse Results in Wrongful Death

If the abuse or neglect suffered by your family member resulted in their passing, you may be able to pursue additional compensation to assist with:

  • Final medical expenses
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of companionship
  • Emotional pain and suffering for the family

A nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer will help you sort through the details and will fight for the compensation your family deserves.

Emotional Abuse Occurs in Many Nursing Homes

Psychological abuse is widespread in nursing home settings. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that one in six older adults over age 60 experience some form of abuse, with higher numbers reported in residential facilities.

Contact Brown & Barron to Discover Your Options

You have options if your loved one has suffered psychological abuse in a nursing home. The nursing home abuse team at Brown & Barron can discuss the details with you during a free case evaluation. Our team is dedicated to ensuring that abuse stops and that the responsible parties are held accountable for their actions.

Contact us today to discover your options for helping your loved one.

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