Emotional Elder Abuse

Any form of elder abuse should not be tolerated. It can have severe and long-lasting consequences for the victim. We are dedicated to providing legal assistance to those victimized by this type of abuse, and we work tirelessly to ensure that those responsible are held accountable.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of emotional elder abuse, contact us for help. Call nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 to schedule a free legal case review consultation with one of our experienced elder abuse attorneys.

What is Emotional Elder Abuse?

Emotional elder abuse is a type of senior citizen abuse that refers to the infliction of mental or emotional anguish on an older adult. It can take the form of

  • Verbal assaults
  • Threats
  • Intimidation
  • Manipulation

Emotional elder abuse can also involve isolating older adults from their friends and family or preventing them from participating in activities they enjoy. Mistreatment can happen in many places, including the older person's home, family members' house, assisted living facility, or nursing home.

While emotional mistreatment can be just as damaging as physical abuse, it is often harder to detect. Emotional abuse can leave seniors feeling.

  • Scared
  • Confused
  • Helpless

If you suspect that a loved one is being emotionally mistreated in assisted living facilities, it is vital to reach out for help.

In general, state laws on older mistreatment require that caregivers provide seniors with life necessities, including food, water, and medical care.

Emotional mistreatment can result in:

  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Loneliness
  • Self Neglect
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Helplessness
  • Isolation

Emotional elder mistreatment can be linked to increased mortality risk. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, seniors who experienced emotional abuse were more than twice as likely to die prematurely than those who did not experience abuse.

Types of Emotional Elder Abuse

Understanding elderly emotional abuse is critical to being able to identify it. Emotional mistreatment of the elderly can come in many different forms. It is essential to be aware of the warning signs of all types of emotional mistreatment to protect your loved ones. The World Health Organization recognizes the following categories:

Verbal Assault

Verbal assault is one of the types of elder abuse that involves using words to physically or emotionally injure someone. It can include

  • Name-calling
  • Yelling
  • Swearing

Verbal assault can also have demeaning or derogatory comments about a person's appearance, intelligence, or worth.


Threats are emotional mistreatment that involves using words to scare or intimidate someone. Threats can be made against an individual or a loved family member. They can be made in person, over the phone, or through text messages or email. Common threats include threats of

  • Violence
  • Financial harm

Intimidation & Manipulation

Intimidation is an emotional elder abuse that involves making someone feel scared or threatened. It can be done through physical actions, such as standing over someone in a threatening way or making aggressive gestures towards the elderly adult. It can also be done through verbal means, such as making threats or using abusive language.

Manipulation is an emotional elder abuse that involves using words or actions to control or influence someone. Manipulation can coerce older adults into doing something they do not want to do, such as signing a legal document or giving away their possessions.

Psychological Abuse

Elder psychological abuse is emotional mistreatment involving mental or emotional anguish in an elderly individual. It can include:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

It can also include isolating the elder from their friends and a family member or preventing them from participating in activities they enjoy.

Psychological elder abuse and neglect can lead to other forms of elder abuse and often accompanies other forms of elder abuse, such as physical abuse.


Isolating an elderly individual from their friends and family is emotional mistreatment. It can be done by prohibiting them from leaving the house, limiting their contact with others, or isolating them in a room of the house. Isolation can also prevent older people from participating in activities they enjoy, such as attending church or social gatherings.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is a type of mistreatment that involves taking advantage of an older person's finances, including

  • Stealing their money from bank accounts
  • Using their credit cards without permission
  • Coercing them into signing over their property

Financial abuse can also involve exploiting an older person for financial gains by charging them excessive fees for caretaking services.

An Overview of Emotional Elder Abuse Statistics

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), 5.2% of adults aged 60 and over reported experiencing psychological abuse in the past year.

A study published in the Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect found that 1 in 6 elderly individuals who live in the community have been sufferers of emotional mistreatment.

The same study found that women are more likely to be victims of emotional mistreatment than men and that the risk of mistreatment increases with age. Domestic violence or family violence is also a risk factor for mistreatment.

Emotional elder abuse and neglect can have severe consequences for victims. These consequences can include physical and mental health problems, social isolation, and financial exploitation.

Many older adults who are emotionally mistreated do not seek help due to shame, fear, or a lack of awareness. As a result, emotional elder mistreatment is often underreported.

Adult children and other family members and friends play an essential role in identifying and reporting abuse.

Risk Factors for Emotional Elder Abuse

There are some factors to be aware of regarding emotional elder abuse. These risk factors can make an older person more likely to be abused or more vulnerable to the effects of emotional mistreatment.

Some of the most common risk factors for emotional elder mistreatment include:

Caregiver Stress

Caregivers are often overly stressed to care for their elderly loved ones, leading to frustration and anxiety. When caregivers cannot cope with their stress in healthy ways, they may lash out at their elderly loved ones or take their frustration out on them.

Older Person's Physical or Mental Health

Older adults who are physically or mentally frail may be more vulnerable to abuse, as they may be unable to defend themselves.

Additionally, older people with dementia or Alzheimer's disease may be more likely to be emotionally mistreated, as they may be confused and disoriented.

Who May Commit Emotional Elder Abuse?

Family members or other caregivers commit the vast majority of emotional elder abuse. Studies have shown that 94% of abusers are family members, and 96% of victims know their abusers.

Nursing Home Staff Members

We often hear the shocking news of elders in nursing homes unnecessary suffering from abuse. While emotional mistreatment can occur in any care setting, it is widespread in nursing homes because nursing home staff members are often overworked and underpaid, leading to frustration and anger, which results in nursing home abuse.

Nursing home staff members may have difficulty forming attachments with their patients, making them more likely to mistreat them emotionally. Sexual abuse is also common in nursing homes, involving a caregiver forcing an older adult to watch or be part of sexual acts.

Caregivers Who Have a History of Abuse

Caregivers who have a history of mistreatment are also more likely to commit emotional elder abuse because they may be more likely to see elderly people as weak and powerless. Caregivers who have a history of abuse may be more likely to feel entitled to mistreat their elderly patients when frustrated, angered, or upset.

Signs of Emotional Elder Abuse

Various signs may indicate that an older adult is being abused, including:

  • Withdrawn or isolated from friends or family members
  • Appears to be afraid of their caregiver
  • Unexplained bruises or other injuries
  • Possessions are missing or have been damaged
  • Appears to be neglected, such as dirty clothes or not being properly groomed
  • Malnourished or dehydrated
  • Medications are not being taken as prescribed

If you suspect that an elderly person is being emotionally mistreated, it is vital to get help. According to the World Health Organization, emotional mistreatment is the most common abuse of older adults.

Emotional pain can be just as severe as physical pain, and it can have a lasting impact on an older adult's mental condition.

Dealing with Elder Emotional Abuse Cases

Treating emotional elder mistreatment can be difficult, as many cases go unreported. However, some preventive measures can be taken to help a senior person who is being emotionally abused:

Public health campaigns can help raise awareness of the emotional abuse of the elderly. These campaigns can help educate people about the signs of emotional abuse and how to get help.

Nursing homes must have procedures in place to deal with emotional abuse. Nursing home staff should be trained to recognize the signs of emotional abuse. If a nursing home employee is suspected of emotional abuse, they should be immediately reported to the authorities.

Available resources can provide help and support to an elder person being abused. Adult Protective Services can also be contacted to help an elderly individual being harmed.

Reporting Elder Emotional Abuse

If you suspect that an older person is being emotionally abused, it is essential to report it. Emotional abuse can seriously impact an older person's health.

Reporting emotional elder abuse is of the utmost importance. To report abuse, you can:

  • Call your local police department.
  • Call your local Adult Protective Services office.
  • Contact the National Center on Elder Abuse.
Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit With Our Experienced Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, you may be entitled to compensation. Our firm's skilled and experienced elder abuse attorneys can help you pursue a claim against the responsible parties.

Nursing Home Law Center, LLC has a team of dedicated attorneys and professionals who are experienced in handling emotional abuse cases. We have the experience to thoroughly investigate your claim and file a lawsuit on your behalf.

Filing an emotional abuse lawsuit can help hold the negligent parties responsible for their actions and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to speak with an attorney for a free legal case review, as we are here to help you every step of the way.


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