Psychological abuse refers to the act of treating an individual in any way that may cause them to suffer psychological trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The warning signs of psychological abuse in nursing homes may be more subtle than those resulting from physical abuse, increasing the probability of the abuse happening again. If you have a concern about your loved one in a nursing home, the following information may help.
Observing the Victim
If you notice any of the following behavioral signs of psychological abuse, you may need to take immediate steps to protect your loved one:
- Fear of a specific caretaker or nursing home staff member.
- Acting clingy and pleading with you to stay longer or take them home.
- Low self-esteem, loss of confidence, and being unusually quiet.
- Depression and general withdrawal unusual to their personality.
- A lack of interest in the activities they once enjoyed.
- Substantial weight loss and sudden changes in eating and sleeping patterns.
- Threatening to hurt themselves or other residents in the nursing home.
Signs to Look for in Caretakers or Other Nursing Home Staff
Sometimes, the actions and behavior of caregivers can reveal psychological abuse. Signs may include:
- A lack of concern or exaggerated concern for you and your loved one.
- Refusing to leave your loved one’s side or surrounding areas during visitation.
- Flattering your loved one to an unusual extent for staff members.
- Acting hostile or defensive when asked questions about your loved one.
- Treating your loved one like a child instead of an adult.
- Becoming the only caretaker to your loved one.
- A history of substance abuse, elderly abuse, or other forms of abuse.
- Clarifying your loved one’s words under the guise of helping to promote clarity.
Types and Warning Signs of Psychological Abuse in Nursing Homes
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the intentional infliction of fear, anguish, humiliation, and distress can occur in many verbal and non-verbal ways, including:
- Verbal degradation: Staff members may yell, scream, insult, and make unkind remarks about a resident’s appearance or medical condition.
- Verbal threats: A caregiver can threaten to hit, punch, pinch, or beat a resident if they ever refuse to take their medication.
- Emotional threats: Due to the fear of harassment or physical abuse, a resident may refrain from voicing their opinions or speaking up against the abuse.
- Isolation: An abusive caregiver may prevent the victim from joining social activities by locking them in their room or isolating them from friends and family.
Psychological abuse can have effects as lasting and severe as those caused by physical abuse or neglect, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Why Does Psychological Abuse Occur in Nursing Homes?
This type of abuse occurs in nursing homes for a variety of reasons, according to NIH, including:
- Caregiver burnout due to understaffing.
- Failure to conduct extensive background checks for employees.
- Inadequate supervisory staff or complete lack of supervision.
- Failure to train supervisors on how to spot the signs of psychological abuse.
- Failure to provide a balanced ratio of staff to patients.
- Failure to address warning signs of psychological abuse.
If the nursing home fails to do any of the above, you may hold them liable by law. The court may also award the victim with compensatory and punitive damages.
The Effects of Psychological Abuse on the Elderly
Psychological abuse can have serious and long-lasting consequences on the victim’s mental health and general wellbeing. In some cases, it directly causes severe injuries and wrongful death. It can also lead to stress disorders, which can hurt the victim’s ability to heal and fight off infections, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Additionally, weight loss due to psychological abuse can further weaken your loved one and make them vulnerable to other medical conditions.
For a free legal consultation, call 800-934-6555
Let Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Work for You
If your loved one experienced psychological abuse, you have the right to seek legal counsel on their behalf. If you hire Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, our nursing home abuse lawyers can provide you with legal guidance in a free consultation. When we take on a client, we aim to protect them from suffering any further injuries or losses.
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we make it a priority to fight for our clients passionately and effectively. We work on a contingency basis, so we only collect payment if we secure financial recovery in your favor. Call us now at (800) 933-4159 for a free consultation.