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What is Psychological Abuse to an Elder in a Nursing Home?

Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer Phoenix, AZ

There are many forms of abuse that can take place in a nursing home. One of these is psychological abuse. This can be nonverbal or verbal and involves and action that causes the elder to be emotionally harmed. Much of the psychological abuse that occurs in a nursing home is done by staff; however, other residents can be capable of engaging in the negative behavior. This type of abuse can be devastating because of the often long lasting damage, and contribution to rapidly deteriorating health. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult types of abuse to recognize and/or prove.

What Is Psychological Abuse in a Nursing Home?

When a nursing home staff or residents inflicts psychological abuse, the elderly person may feel extreme anxiety, fear, depression, or sadness. In many instances, psychological abuse is inflicted concurrently with other types of abuse leaving the elder to feel helpless. Examples of psychological abuse include:

  • Intimidation
  • Threatening the elder
  • Ridiculing the elder
  • Insulting the elder
  • Making the elder to feel at fault
  • Yelling or shouting at the elder

Nonverbal examples of psychological abuse:

  • Ignoring the elder
  • Giving them the silent treatment
  • Isolating the elder from  friends or family
  • Preventing the elder from partaking in social activities
  • Menacing the elder
  • Withholding food or water from elder

Signs of Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse tends to be subtle and difficult to spot. Often it goes on for many years before it is recognized. In general, once the elder exhibits indicators of abuse, it has been happening for a long time and is a good sign that something is wrong. Usually, psychological abuse causes a person to become withdrawn and timid. In some people, they will become aggressive, agitated, and upset. Other signs include:

  • Depression
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Refusal to interact with others
  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Mood swings
  • Excessive fear
  • Excessive crying
  • Nervousness
  • Unusual behavior such as rocking

Overtime, the effects might worsen and have consequences on the elder’s physical health. Physical signs of psychological abuse include:

  • Weight loss
  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia or sleep problems
  • Low immune system
  • Refusing to eat or take medications
  • Increased vulnerability to illness
  • Attempted self harm

When You Suspect Psychological Abuse in a Nursing Home

If left ignored, psychological abuse can spiral into a catastrophic situation that may involve permanent mental and emotional problems in addition to severe physical pain and suffering. It is a serious form of abuse that should be dealt with as soon as possible. In general, removing the elder from the facility, or at least the alleged abuser(s), should be one of your first steps. If you have concerns about doing this without sending off alarm signals to the nursing homes (i.e. in regards to pursuing legal action), or you have fears about repercussions, you can talk with a nursing home neglect lawyer Phoenix, AZ relies on at Rispoli Law, PLLC.