Understanding Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes

Factors of Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on August 29, 2019 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on February 24, 2022

Sad manNot all abuse is physical. Emotional or psychological abuse can be just as damaging to a person’s health. If your elderly loved one has suffered emotional abuse in his or her nursing home facility, you may have grounds to pursue a lawsuit.

PKSD explains more about emotional abuse of nursing home residents, including who is most at risk, signs to look for and how to report abuse.

The experienced Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys at PKSD are here to help. Our firm is deeply committed to protecting residents in long-term care facilities and holding abusive caregivers accountable for their actions. We are ready to assist you in investigating your family member’s nursing home and pursuing justice for your loved one. Call us today for a confidential and free consultation to learn more.

What Is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse happens when someone purposely causes psychological harm to another person. Elderly nursing home victims, many of whom are already frail, may suffer severe distress, emotional pain and other mental trauma as a result.

This type of psychological abuse typically involves an aggressor – someone who misuses a position of trust and power to isolate, humiliate or intimidate the victim. Frail, elderly residents and other patients with cognitive impairment are especially at risk because they may not be able to adequately communicate the abuse.

Common Types of Emotional Abuse

Some of the most common ways that an abusive caregiver may emotionally harm a nursing home resident or patient includes:

  • Mocking the patient or resident
  • Ignoring a patient’s requests for help
  • Cutting off access to all forms of communication
  • Taking away walkers or other devices that help provide mobility
  • Neglecting a resident’s daily care – such as hygiene
  • Isolating the victim from others
  • Withholding food or drink
  • Terrorizing or menacing the victim
  • Threatening to hit or sexually abuse
  • Insulting or calling the victim names
  • Shouting at or intimidating the victim
  • Keeping the victim separated from family and friends

Residents Most at Risk for Abuse

While all nursing home residents are susceptible to emotional abuse, there are some who may be at a higher risk than others.

These include:

  • Residents age 75 and above
  • Those with memory issues or mental conditions, making it harder or impossible to communicate
  • Seniors who have problems interacting with others
  • Those who are unable to talk because of a physical condition
  • Residents suffering from serious long-term conditions like dementia or paralysis

Catching the Signs of Emotional Abuse

Someone who is experiencing emotional abuse may exhibit sudden, uncharacteristic changes in his or her behavior. Personality changes are among the first warning signs that something is off.

Visiting your loved one regularly can help you to discover signs of abuse sooner; helping you catch out-of-the-ordinary behavior more quickly. However, if you do not live nearby, using electronic forms of communication that let you see – or at least hear – your loved one is the next best thing.

These are some additional signs that, if unusual to your loved one’s usual behavior, may indicate emotional abuse:

  • Low self esteem
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Easily becomes agitated or upset
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Expresses feelings of hopelessness or fear
  • Stops caring about hygiene
  • Malnourishment and dehydration
  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Sudden changes in eating habits
  • Shows signs of depression and confusion
  • Loses interest in favorite hobbies or activities
  • Withdrawal or refusal to interact with others
  • Lashes out with random aggression
  • Nervousness or anxiousness
  • Unrelated mumbling, sucking or making repetitive motions

Steps to Take if Your Loved One Is Being Abused

If you believe that your loved one is being abused, it is important to investigate your family member’s environment, including his or her caregivers, without delay to learn more.

  • Report an abusive staff member or caregiver immediately – In Wisconsin, reports of nursing home abuse are handled by the Division of Quality Assurance (DQA).
  • Report an abusive caregiver or staff member in person – Be sure to visit your local DQA office.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local adult protective services agency – You can also find local Eldercare Locator organizations by calling 1-800-677-1116.
  • Seek medical care for your loved one – Follow the doctor’s orders for your family member’s care.
  • Contact a qualified lawyer for legal help – He or she can help you hold negligent parties accountable.

Contact Our Legal Team for Help You Can Trust

Our knowledgeable and compassionate lawyers at PKSD are ready to assist you. We have extensive experience, and are prepared to investigate the facility, interview witnesses and gather evidence to support your claim. Our legal team has helped many victims of nursing home abuse obtain compensation.

We offer a free and confidential consultation – at no obligation to you – to discuss your claim. We do not charge for our services until we successfully obtain compensation on your loved one’s behalf.

Call PKSD Law today. Ph: 877-877-2228

Back to top