As a family member of an elderly loved one in a nursing home, you expect that they will receive proper treatment, care, and supervision. You also expect that they will receive the dignity and respect they deserve. However, the National Center on Elder Abuse reports that over 2 million elderly people suffer from abuse throughout the United States, some of whom are in nursing homes.
When nursing home staff members remain overworked, understaffed, or poorly trained, they can often lash out in frustration or anger at elderly residents through verbal or emotional abuse. If your loved one suffered verbal or emotional abuse as a nursing home resident, consider visiting with a Tulsa verbal or emotional abuse lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm who can help you receive justice on behalf of your loved one.
Verbal or Emotional Abuse of Nursing Home Residents
Verbal or emotional abuse occurs when a person directly causes psychological trauma to another through any means that are not directly physical. In most cases, verbal or emotional abuse is a direct result of one person attempting to use manipulation, control, or an abuse of power in order to intimidate, frighten, or isolate a victim.
Nursing home employees and caretakers have a very powerful position with respect to their relationship with senior residents in a nursing home. These caretakers have the complete ability and authority to dispense medications, food, water, assistance with physical hygiene, assistance with repositioning for bedridden patients, and even such simple acts as help going to the restroom. Without these caretakers, nursing home residents would be oftentimes helpless to receive necessary care to remain healthy and safe.
Examples of Verbal or Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes
A publication in the National Research Council reports that emotional abuse in nursing homes can be either verbal or non-verbal. Some of the examples of verbal or emotional abuse in nursing homes include the following:
- Yelling, screaming, or otherwise terrorizing a nursing home resident.
- Shaming an elderly resident in front of other residents or in private.
- Insulting or mocking an elderly resident in order to shame and influence power and control over them.
- Creating a scenario where a nursing home staff member accuses or blames a resident for an incident or accident that occurred.
- Failing to appropriately reply to an elderly resident’s requests for nutrition, hydration, assistance with repositioning, assistance with personal hygiene needs, or going to the restroom.
- Trivializing any concern or request of a nursing home resident.
- Intentionally isolating a resident from social activities within the nursing home, their friends, or family members.
- Threatening a nursing home resident with any kind of physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse.
- Intentionally moving or hiding possessions of the elderly residents they need in order to safely move around the nursing home, such as wheelchairs or walkers.
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Warning Signs of Verbal or Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes
If you have an elderly resident in a nursing home that you suspect may suffer from verbal or emotional abuse, you should look to warning signs in both your loved one, as well as warning signs exhibited by the caregivers and staff at the nursing home.
Warning Signs in an Elderly Loved One
Some of the warning signs you should look for as a family member of a loved one in a nursing home could include sudden anger, anxiety, or depression Abnormal changes in personality like a disinterest in hobbies, withdrawal from family or friends, or withdrawal from normal activities or social activities within the nursing home can indicate abuse as well.
You may also notice their sudden fear of nursing home staff, low self-esteem, or regressive behaviors such as pulling one’s own hair, bedwetting, rocking back and forth, hand sucking, or teeth grinding. While these are only some symptoms that could occur in elderly residents suffering from verbal or emotional abuse, you will know your loved one better. If you notice any signs that your loved one remains different in any way, you should consider whether or not they suffered any verbal or emotional abuse in their nursing home.
Warning Signs in the Nursing Home Staff
You may notice signs of abuse or neglect in a nursing home. If there is an established history of elder abuse or neglect or complaints, this can indicate a pattern of abuse. If caretakers or nursing home staff appear stressed, exhausted, or overworked, you may want to investigate further. You may witness poor treatment of elderly residents in your presence. Caregivers may seem evasive or hostile when you request answers regarding your loved one or ask to visit them. An overall lack of empathy or concern regarding your loved one, or even exaggerated, dramatic, or fake concern regarding your loved one only when you are around can also signal abuse.
Again, while these warning signs may point to verbal or emotional abuse, you should always follow up if you suspect that your elderly loved one is suffering from any kind of abuse or neglect as a nursing home resident. If you notice any of these warning signs, consider visiting with a Tulsa verbal or emotional abuse lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to help you with your next steps.
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Results of Verbal or Emotional Abuse
The results of verbal or emotional abuse extend far beyond what the eye can see. While physical abuse often leaves permanent physical scars, verbal or emotional abuse to nursing home residents can also result in permanent losses. In some cases, victims develop post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological issues, stress, anxiety, and nervous disorders, which can affect an elderly resident’s health, immune system, and the ability to enjoy life.
In some cases, this additional anxiety can lead to weight loss, the development of other medical conditions, the psychological damage of withdrawing from family and friends, the loss of enthusiasm for life, and—in drastic cases—the engagement in acts of self-harm as a means of escape.
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Let a Tulsa Verbal or Emotional Abuse Lawyer Handle Your Case
If you believe that your loved one has been verbally or emotionally abused as a resident in a nursing home, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to help you learn how we can handle your potential case.