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Emotional Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is a deeply concerning issue, and it can be a devastating and traumatic experience for older individuals. With emotional elder abuse, there are no visible marks, yet the harm inflicted on the mental welfare of elderly individuals is no less significant.
Elder abuse can lead to an individual feeling isolated, fearful, and alone. Such a type of abuse may take many forms, from verbal or emotional mistreatment to neglect and abandonment.
The personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC legally advocate for elder emotional abuse victims harmed by caregivers, family members, friends, or hospital and nursing home staff.
Contact our nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.Understanding Emotional Abuse Involving the Elderly
Emotional elder abuse is a growing concern worldwide, and raising awareness and educating others on the warning signs and preventive measures is crucial.
One form of elder abuse is emotional elder abuse, defined as the intentional infliction of mental anguish, pain, or distress on an elderly person through verbal or non-verbal acts.
Emotional elder abuse may take many forms and is categorized by verbal and non-verbal abuse, such as:
- Verbal abuse
- Harassment by shouting or screaming at the individual
- Being aloof, unfriendly, or callous
- Insulting, ridiculing, or mocking the older person
- Embarrassing the individual in front of others
- Scolding the individual
- Intimidation and threatening to harm the individual or their loved ones
- Causing the individual to feel shame and guilt
- Belittling the individual alone and amongst others
- Refusing to respect the person's dignity by treating them like a child or a burden
- Non-verbal abuse
- Ignoring the person and giving them the silent treatment
- Isolation from residents in the facility or social connections, such as family
- Keeping the individual's private belongings hidden on purpose
- Intimidating the individual when they are alone
- Restricting their access to amenities, such as water, electricity, food, and the restroom
- Moving their walking aids, spectacles, dentures, or hearing aids out of reach
As the population of elderly adults in the United States continues to grow, the issue of elder abuse has become increasingly prevalent.
Such a type of abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial, and includes the following statistics:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - An estimated one in ten older individuals experience elder abuse each year.
- National Safety Council - Family members, including adult children and spouses, perpetrate 90% of elder abuse.
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)- More than 500,000 cases of elder neglect are reported in the United States each year, with many more going unreported.
- World Health Organization - Seniors with mental welfare problems are at a higher risk of experiencing elder abuse, including emotional abuse. Such a type of abuse may significantly impact the mental well-being of an elderly emotional abuse victim and result in feelings of low self-esteem and helplessness.
- Administration on Aging - Approximately 5 million elder abuse cases occur annually in the United States.
- American Association of Retired Persons - Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality - Elder abuse increases the risk of hospitalization and death.
- Food and Drug Administration - Medication-related abuse is a growing problem among older individuals. Many are prescribed unnecessary medications or experience adverse drug reactions due to improper medication management.
- National Center on Elder Abuse - Older individuals who experience abuse are at a higher risk of mental welfare problems, including depression and anxiety.
- National Institutes of Health - Understanding elderly emotional abuse is crucial to identifying and preventing elderly abuse, as emotional abuse can significantly impact an older person's physical and mental welfare.
The need for healthcare providers, family members, adult children, and caregivers to be aware of the signs of emotional abuse and to take action to protect older individuals from such a type of mistreatment is emphasized.
- American Psychological Association - Emotional elder abuse is one of the most common forms of elder mistreatment.
It can be challenging to identify when a loved one is being emotionally abused, as the signs are not always visible; however, there are a few common indicators, including the following:
- Changes in emotional mood or behavior, such as increased fear, anxiety, depression, or withdrawal
- Injuries on the body, such as unexplained bruises, cuts, or other injuries
- Self-neglect and lack of health care
- Sudden changes to bank accounts or unexplained withdrawals
- Social isolation, such as the sudden lack of contact with family or other social connections
Once emotional abuse has been identified, there are immediate measures that can be taken to prevent further abuse and protect loved ones, such as:
- Reporting suspected abuse to Adult Protective Services (APS), the Elder Care locator hotline, or local law enforcement
- Medical professionals, such as doctors, must also report any suspected elder abuse, such as emotional or physical abuse, in most states
- Encourage older individuals to seek support from family or mental welfare professionals
- Providing resources and support to caregivers and nursing home staff experiencing stress or burnout
- Contacting elder abuse lawyers
Implementing these preventive measures can reduce the incidence of emotional elder abuse and promote the emotional health of older individuals.Effects of Elder Emotional and Psychological Abuse
Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to elder emotional abuse, which can be perpetrated by caregivers, nursing home staff, other residents, and even family members.
There are 1.6 million elderly in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the US. According to a World Health Organization survey, two out of three nursing home staff have admitted to abuse or neglect in a year.
Emotional abuse differs from elder psychological abuse, although the terms are interchangeable. Emotional abuse is when the abuser tries to control a victim by abusing their feelings, causing mental trauma, such as insulting or ridiculing them.
Psychological elder abuse is when the abuser controls or manipulates their thinking, making them believe they are mad, stupid, or useless.
Both psychological and emotional abuse may result in an older person or residents of nursing homes experiencing the following:
- Depression - anxiety, helplessness, hopelessness, and despair
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts
- Low self-esteem and loss of self-worth
- Guilt and shame
- Agitation and mood swings
- Anger, frustration, and resentment
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Isolation from other residents and social withdrawal
- Lack of health care
- Loss of control of emotions
- Fear of the abuser and other staff members
- Loss of trust in others- feeling betrayed and violated
- Lack of eye contact
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
- Changes in eating habits or weight loss
- Health problems such as headaches, nausea, stomach problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other stress-related conditions
Often emotional abuse or elder psychological abuse is the precursor of other types of elder abuse, such as physical, sexual, or financial abuse.Physical Abuse
It is the intentional use of force against an older person, resulting in bodily harm, pain, injury, or impairment, and can include:
- Hitting, slapping, pushing, and shaking an older adult leading to bruises, cuts, broken bones, or other physical injuries
- Inappropriate use of restraints
- Forcing an older person to perform strenuous activities
- Forcing an elderly person from moving about freely
A type of elder abuse that involves any sexual acts or contact of a sexual nature with an older adult without their consent, in any form, such as:
- Unwanted touching, kissing, hugging, sexual assault, or rape
- Forcing an elderly individual to look at sexually explicit media
- Coercing an older individual into sexual activities with violent threats of harm
Common indicators are sexually transmitted diseases, infections, bruising, or other genital injuries with no medical explanation and withdrawn, anxious, or depressed behaviorFinancial Exploitation
Financial elder abuse is the unauthorized use of an older person's money, credit cards, and property. Financial elder abuse can include:
- Stealing money or property
- Forcing or threatening to sign over money or property
- Abusing a power of attorney
- Forging of signatures or altering legal documents
Common indicators of financial abuse can include sudden changes in an elder's economic situation, such as unpaid bills, missing funds, or changes to legal documents.
It is of utmost importance that the consequences of elder abuse and the resulting mental health problems be addressed. It will promote the well-being of elder emotional abuse victims, enabling them to heal from the trauma.How to Prevent Elder Mistreatment
Emotional elder abuse can be prevented by recognizing the signs of elder abuse and neglect, maintaining open communication, seeking help from Adult Protective Services, and reducing the stress on nursing home staff and caregivers.Signs of Emotional Elder Abuse
Nursing home staff members, caregivers, friends, and family members should be aware of the signs of verbal or non-verbal emotional abuse, including unexplained mood swings, loss of eye contact, changes in behavior, social isolation, and emotional pain and suffering.
Understanding these signs can help older individuals receive the support they need and prevent further emotional or psychological abuse.Communication and Support
Open communication between nursing home staff members, caregivers, and family members is essential for preventing further emotional or psychological abuse and sustaining healing from all emotional distress.
Providing emotional support and listening to the concerns of older individuals can lead to victims feeling heard, understood, and empowered.Seeking Help From APS
If elder abuse is suspected, nursing home staff members, caregivers, and family members should not hesitate to seek help from APS. These agencies are designed to investigate and intervene in elder abuse cases and can provide vital support and resources to older individuals in need.Reducing Nursing Home Caregiver Stress
Caregiver stress is a leading cause of emotional elder abuse, and reducing stress and maintaining mental well-being is essential. A caregiver can lash out more quickly when overly stressed due to workload or extended hours.
It is of the utmost importance to prioritize self-care and seek support from others. Nursing home staff members and caregivers can ensure they are better equipped to provide the care and support older adults need.
Nursing home staff members must understand the loss of emotional well-being experienced by victims of emotional abuse and their resulting mental health. In doing so, each caregiver can ensure they are better equipped to offer improved, empathetic care.Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to Resolve an Elder Emotional Abuse Compensation Claim
When an elderly loved one or family member is emotionally abused, it can also have a traumatic influence on other family members. It's essential to take immediate action to address the situation and hold those responsible for emotional elder abuse financially accountable for their actions.
Do you believe your loved one has been a victim of emotional elder abuse or mistreatment, such as physical or sexual abuse? A caregiver or a family member can file an elder abuse report and compensation claim.
Seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer specializing in elder abuse cases. Contact Nursing Home Law Center, LLC at (800) 926-7565, or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.
We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only get paid if you win the case. By seeking legal representation, you can ensure that your loved one's emotional trauma is addressed correctly and they receive the compensation they deserve.Resources: