Emotional Abuse in the Nursing Home

Many Americans have to make the decision to move their elderly parents or other loved ones into nursing homes at some point in their lives. This decision is rarely easy, but in many cases, it is the right choice because without the specialized care available in a nursing home facility, the elderly individual’s health can suffer.

When we move our loved ones into nursing homes, we trust that they will be treated with respect and dignity while receiving the care they need. In many cases, this is exactly what happens and our loved ones enjoy healthy, safe, socially stimulating environments that they would not have at home. But abuse and neglect do occur in nursing homes. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), one in 10 American adults age 60 and over have experienced some form of elder abuse. Nursing home abuse is a form of medical malpractice. It can have a severe impact on a victim’s physical and mental health. If you suspect your loved one is suffering from any type of abuse in his or her nursing home, it is your job to be an advocate for your loved one and take steps to rectify the situation.

Emotional versus Psychological Abuse

You might hear the term “psychological abuse” used to describe the non-physical mistreatment of an individual. Psychological abuse is similar to emotional abuse in that it wears down the victim’s sense of self-worth, but the tactics used to do so are different. Emotional abuse attacks the individual’s ability to love him- or herself and creates doubt in his or her mind that others care for him or her. Psychological abuse targets the victim’s ability to trust him- or herself and to differentiate reality from lies and manipulation spouted by the abuser. These two types of abuse can occur in tandem or alongside other types of abuse, such as physical or sexual abuse.

Examples of Emotional and Psychological Abuse that Can Occur in a Nursing Home

Examples of emotional abuse include:

  • Ignoring the victim’s needs, including his or her need for social interaction;
  • Humiliating the victim;
  • Threatening the victim with harm if he or she does not comply with the abuser’s demand
  • Insulting or mocking the victim;
  • Isolating the victim from others; and
  • Telling the victim that he or she is not worthy of love, that nobody cares about him or her, or that he or she is somehow a bad, broken, or worthless individual.

Psychological abuse can take the following forms:

  • This is the practice of contradicting an individual’s statements and memories, causing him or her to doubt his or her perception of reality;
  • Ignoring the victim and purposely excluding him or her from social activity;
  • Manipulating the victim into complying with the abuser’s demands; and
  • Causing the victim to become dependent on the abuser through fear.
Recognizing Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse does not have to leave bruises or scars like physical abuse does. However, it does have an impact on its victim. If you recognize any of the following in your loved one, he or she could be a victim of emotional abuse:

  • Sudden weight loss or gain;
  • A significant change in personality;
  • Self harm; and
  • A notable change in his or her health.
How you Can Protect your Loved One from Becoming a Victim of Emotional Abuse in His or Her Nursing Home

Be there for your loved one. Your loved one’s greatest defense against all types of abuse at the hands of his or her caretakers is having frequent, consistent visits from you. During these visits, you can see how your loved one is treated by others at the facility and how he or she interacts with caregivers and fellow residents. Through these visits, you are also building a relationship with your loved one, giving them an avenue to communicate his or her thoughts and needs.

In many cases, nursing home abuse occurs because staff members are overworked and under qualified to handle their residents’ needs. A nursing home might not hire enough staff members to give all of its residents the individual attention and care they need or it might fail to train its employees in working with certain groups of residents, such as individuals with dementia. There are no excuses for nursing home abuse. If you think your loved one has been victimized, do not ignore the signs you see and hear.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from emotional abuse or any other type of abuse, speak up. Talk to his or her caregivers as well as the management staff of the nursing home about what you observed. Document everything that you observe through photographs or a written log. These may be important pieces of evidence to support your nursing home abuse claim later.

Speak with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer about your observations. Your lawyer can advise you about the next step to take, which may be notifying the California Department of Public Health with a nursing home abuse claim. This is where you will need the evidence you collected during your visits to spend time with your loved one. The evidence you provide will aid greatly in the department’s investigation of your claim.

Work with an Experienced Sacramento Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

If your loved one was a victim of nursing home abuse, he or she may be suffering significant financial damages. Through your claim, you can potentially receive compensation for these damages to help your loved one work through his or her losses. To learn more about filing and pursuing a nursing home abuse claim in Sacramento with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer, contact my office for free and friendly advice. Since 1982, The Law Offices of Edward Smith has been a tireless advocate for victims of various types of negligence and mistreatment. Give me a call today to discuss your case and determine the best way to advocate for your loved one’s well being.

Sacramento Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento nursing home abuse lawyer. If you or a loved one has suffered negligence and/or abuse in a nursing home setting, please give me a call at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly and no obligation advice.

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