When we hear the word “abuse,” we often think first of physical acts. However, this isn’t always the case—verbal and emotional abuse attempts to control another person by criticizing, embarrassing, or blaming them somehow.
Unfortunately, emotional abuse can prove just as damaging as physical abuse, particularly when the victim is a defenseless nursing home resident. Verbal or emotional abuse can cause feelings of shame, fear, and confusion. An elderly nursing home resident who has no means of escaping from their abusers could also suffer physical effects over time, such as loss of appetite and insomnia.
Loved ones often find emotional abuse challenging to detect. Therefore, the abuse can go on for a long time without raising suspicions. If you suspect that your loved one has suffered from verbal or emotional abuse in their nursing home, you could take legal action as this may have happened for a while. Your loved one has the right to adequate care and respect in their nursing home. Emotional and verbal abuse is not only despicable, but it is also illegal.
A San Antonio verbal or emotional abuse lawyer from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm may be able to help. Call our legal team today at (800) 842-6336 to discuss whether you could hold the nursing home responsible for your loved one’s suffering.
Verbal or Emotional Abuse in the Nursing Home
Verbal or emotional mistreatment of the elderly in nursing homes may be more common than we realize. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), certified nursing assistants (CNAs) discussed the prevalence of verbal abuse in long-term care facilities. In a study, 58 percent of CNAs described staff members yelling at residents, and many reported staff insulting or swearing at residents.
Explaining Verbal or Emotional Abuse
Verbal or emotional mistreatment can occur in many ways, and the perpetrators are not always nursing home staff members. Family members, visitors, third-party vendors, or other residents can also verbally abuse older adults.
When a person makes a statement or threatens an older person intending to cause fear, embarrassment, or emotional pain, they have verbally and emotionally mistreated the senior. Acts of verbal and emotional abuse can include:
- Name-calling and insults
- Swearing at the resident
- Humiliating the resident in front of others
- Criticizing the resident
- Making threats toward the resident or their family
- Isolating the resident
- Ignoring requests for assistance
- Withholding care and verbal interaction
Verbal and emotional abuse is far from trivial. The psychological effects of verbal and emotional abuse can be horrific and, in some cases, lead to wrongful death. An elderly nursing home resident depends entirely on their caregivers, leaving them relatively defenseless. When an elderly person who may already suffer from cognitive and other health issues lives in constant fear, they will likely develop physical and psychological effects. Such effects can include depression, anxiety, sleep issues, and a lack of appetite.
Signs of Verbal or Emotional Abuse
Unfortunately, emotional abuse can be notoriously difficult to detect, especially if your loved one cannot tell you about what happened to them. Your relative may suffer from cognitive issues or shame and embarrassment. If you suspect emotional abuse, you will most likely have to do some research. You might want to visit the home at different times and perhaps unannounced. You could observe staff treating residents disrespectfully during your visit. If you witness any mistreatment, your loved one likely suffers the same when you are not present at the facility.
However, you can also watch for signs that could indicate verbal or emotional abuse. You might spot some of them when it comes to your loved one:
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Mood swings
- Fear of caregivers
- Depression and anxiety
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Unexplained weight loss
It is crucial to report any unusual changes in your loved one’s health or behavior to the nursing home. You could also consult their doctor for advice and help. If you suspect abuse caused any injuries or deterioration of your family member’s health, you could consult a San Antonio verbal or emotional abuse lawyer who can advise you on your next best steps. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today to learn more.
Holding the Nursing Home Liable
Generally, nursing homes are responsible for what happens on the premises and should take the necessary steps to keep your loved one safe from abuse and harm. This obligation includes preventing verbal and emotional abuse. The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 made verbal and emotional abuse illegal under federal law, giving your loved one “the right to be free from physical or mental abuse.”
If you can prove that your family member suffered injuries and damages from verbal or emotional abuse in the nursing home, you could sue the facility. A San Antonio verbal or emotional abuse lawyer can help you build a case and prove the facility’s negligence within the two-year statute of limitations set by Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003.
You could hold the nursing home liable for several reasons, including negligent hiring or training practices. Failing to perform background checks on new staff members can lead to hiring employees with a history of committing violent crimes or emotional abuse. If the nursing home shows more interest in making profits than ensuring residents’ comfort and safety, management might not hire enough staff. When employees consistently feel overworked, rushed, and stressed, abuse will be more likely to happen.
For a free legal consultation with a Verbal or Emotional Abuse Lawyer serving San Antonio, call (800) 842-6336
Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Now for Help
While verbal or emotional abuse may not cause physical injuries, it is no less damaging to the health of an elderly and potentially frail nursing home resident. Mental scars resulting from belittling or threatening a resident can make them fearful and anxious, severely impacting their life quality.
Your loved one has the legal right to feel safe and well-cared in their nursing home and you can stand up for them. You can give the Pintas & Mullins Law Firm a call today at (800) 842-6336 for a free consultation with a team member. Learn whether you have legal recourse and could recover compensation for medical bills, moving expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from verbal or emotional abuse.