Also called psychological or mental abuse, this occurs when a person is spoken to or treated in such a way that it causes emotional pain and/or distress. It is often divided into two categories: verbal and nonverbal. Verbal emotional abuse includes the use of yelling or threats to intimidate the victim, humiliation and ridicule of the victim, and using the victim as a perpetual scapegoat. Nonverbal emotional abuse includes ignoring and neglecting the victim, isolating the victim from others, and terrorizing the victim. Other examples of this type of abuse can also include treating the elder as though he or she is an infant or small child, and confining or restraining the elder for extended periods of time as punishment. Along with physical and sexual abuse, it is one of the most common forms of nursing home abuse.
Victims of emotional abuse are often characterized by a notable change in either personality or behavior. In addition, elderly victims of psychological abuse can exhibit signs that mimic the symptoms of dementia, including rocking and mumbling. The elder may also suffer from decreased self-esteem, seem more withdrawn than normal, or display sudden mood swings. In addition, emotional abuse can present thru changes in the eating and sleeping patterns of the victim and the avoidance of eye contact.
The people who commit emotional abuse are most often male, and tend to exhibit high rates of personality disorders. Again, the most frequent emotional abusers of nursing home patients are staff, followed by visitors and others who live in the nursing home. Women are at a higher risk of being victims of mental abuse than men, and the average age of victims of elder emotional abuse is 78.
If you see signs of elder emotional abuse in a loved one, you should report this to government officials as soon as possible. Then, a government-affiliated caregiver will be able to evaluate the patient and the situation in the nursing home. Common questions will include who the elder is interacting with, and who takes care of them on a daily basis. These questions will help the caregiver to figure out what is going on and the reality of the situation before making a diagnosis.
If, following the evaluation, a loved one is diagnosed as suffering from emotional abuse, it is extremely important to remove him or her from the environment as quickly as possible. This will make the elder feel more comfortable. Options include living with family for a period of time, or finding a new nursing home environment for the patient. Next, the elder should receive help from a counselor. Depending on the severity of the case, the elder may be prescribed medication to help with the emotional stress involved.
Find Out if You Have a Nursing Home Abuse Case
Parker Scheer personal injury lawyers have successfully represented persons injured as a result of nursing home abuse and neglect. Those interested in having their potential claim reviewed by one of our nursing home abuse attorneys are encouraged to contact us or telephone us toll free, seven days a week at 617-886-0500. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and all information supplied will be held in strict confidence.