Numerous nursing home communities in San Diego offer elderly residents the promise of high-quality health care in an idyllic setting. Unfortunately, many nursing homes fail to uphold that promise. One of the most rampant types of abuse occurring in these nursing homes is emotional abuse.
According to research reported in Aging Well, psychological abuse is considered the most common form of elder abuse, with a reported incidence of at least 54.1 percent. Many cases go underreported because victims fear retaliation from the nursing home caregiver who is perpetrating the abuse.
At Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers, we believe that no form of abuse should be tolerated in a nursing home setting. These facilities are trusted to provide not only high-quality medical care but also a safe and caring environment. When a facility breaks that trust and tosses aside their vow to live up to a standard of care, they must be held accountable for their negligent actions. Victims deserve compensation for the pain and suffering they have had to endure.
If you suspect your loved one is suffering emotional abuse and their nursing home, the legal team at Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers can help you obtain the justice you deserve and the compensation you and your loved one are entitled to. Contact us today at (888) 233-5020 for a free case review.
What Is Emotional Abuse?
Emotional abuse, although it is verbal, can also be considered silent abuse, because the signs and symptoms are so much more subtle than other forms of abuse. Emotional abuse of the elderly is any verbal or nonverbal communication that is meant to threaten, humiliate, induce fear, or be unnecessarily cruel. This type of abuse may take advantage of a vulnerability or disability in ways that allow the abuser to control or humiliate the victim. Using threats of punishment or deprivation are also forms of emotional abuse.
Emotional abuse may be the result of a caregiver trying to exert control or power over an elderly individual that they care for. It may also be the result of an understaffed facility. Overworked caregivers may allow their temper to boil over as a result of their work situation and lash out residents.
No matter the cause, emotional abuse tactics are cruel and should never be tolerated in long-term care or nursing home settings. Individuals who engage in emotional abuse not only cause residents unnecessary and painful suffering; they may also come to a point where the emotional abuse begins to transition into other forms of abuse, as well.
Numbers from the World Health Organization show that psychological abuse was reported by over 33 percent of elderly adults in nursing homes. Even more disturbing, almost 33 percent of staff themselves admitted to resorting to emotional or psychological abuse.
We know that many times cases of abuse go completely unreported and uninvestigated. Don’t let your family member fall through the cracks. Take claims of abuse seriously and call the law firm of Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers for help. We want to fight for the rights of your family and make sure they get the compensation that they need.
What Forms Can Emotional Abuse Take?
Since emotional abuse may not stick out right away as the first form of abuse that comes to mind, it may be difficult to pinpoint what constitutes emotional abuse. Caregivers can emotionally abuse residents in a variety of different and cruel ways, using both verbal and non-verbal cues.
Here are some of the more common behaviors that abusers use to manipulate and emotionally abuse elderly nursing home residents:
- Using verbal threats
- Using derogatory or crude language
- Swearing at the victim
- Humiliating the victim
- Engaging in demeaning behavior
- Ridiculing the victim
- Intimidating the victim
- Isolating the victim from social events, friends, or activities
- Terrorizing or harassing the victim
- Stalking the victim
- Ignoring or neglecting the needs of the victim
Since many caregivers resort to threats of punishment, retaliation, or neglect, a victim may feel forced into keeping the abuse a secret. That is one reason that so many cases of abuse are never brought to light. Emotional abuse becomes a power struggle that many elderly nursing home residents fear they can never win, and so the abuse continues.
Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse
Although emotional abuse may be one of the more prevalent forms of nursing home abuse, it is one of the most difficult forms of abuse to recognize. It leaves no visible marks, and often, a nursing home resident may feel so bullied or threatened by the abuser that they may fear retaliation if they speak up. In some cases, abusers may even threaten residents in order to keep the abuse hidden.
While it may be harder to spot, there are warning signs that can indicate that a family member may be on the receiving end of emotional abuse. If you are concerned that a loved one may be being mistreated keep a sharp eye out for some of these common warning signs:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Low self-esteem
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
- Withdraws from family and friends
- Withdraws from favorite pastimes or activities
- Suddenly appears shy
- Suffers from anxiety
- Develops depression
- Acts disturbed, scared, or otherwise hopeless
- Mood swings
- Engages in self-harm
You know your family member better than anyone else. If there is something off about their recent behavior, trust your instincts. Something may be wrong, and you may be their only source of help and comfort during this difficult time. Emotional abuse should not be ignored or swept under the rug. It degrades the quality of life for nursing home residents. It can also lead to other forms of abuse or be a part of a pattern of other abusive behaviors.
Dangers of Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse isn’t just about yelling at or berating someone. It is about power, control, fear, and cruelty. It is malicious and works to tear down a person to the point that it can interfere with a person’s decision-making, destabilize their sense of worth, lower their self-esteem, and lead to isolation and depression. Some of the most common psychological consequences of continued emotional abuse include depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder. The impact of severe and continued emotional abuse may even result in suicide.
There may even be a correlation between mental health and physical health, as well. Residents who suffer from constant emotional abuse may be more vulnerable to physical illness and ailments. Wearing down the mind may also have an impact on the body’s immune response. Abusers aren’t just attacking a resident’s mind, they are impacting their overall health and wellness, something that nursing homes and long-term care facilities have sworn to protect.
For those who have long suffered the effects of emotional abuse, they need to be placed in an environment where they can begin to heal. They need to re-establish trust, feel safe, and may need psychological support in order to work through the negative impact of the abuse. These things can’t happen until the abuse is recognized for what it is and addressed.
Caregivers who resort to this type of behavior must be held accountable for the pain and suffering that they have caused. So too, do negligent nursing homes need to be held responsible for their part in the abusive situation.
How Can a Lawyer Help Victims of Emotional Abuse?
Residents in a nursing home facility have rights. Nursing homes should never value profits above the health and safety of their residents. However, by ignoring or covering up abuse, they are actively trying to keep government fines and legal action off of their doorstep. You and your family deserve better than that.
If you or a loved one is suffering from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse in a nursing home setting, or if you suspect foul play in a covid-related illness or death, it is time to stand up and take action. The legal team at Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers wants to help you and your family seek justice and recover the compensation you deserve.
Our team of San Diego elder abuse attorneys are ready to listen to your case, gather critical evidence, and help you navigate the legal process. If your loved one has suffered emotional abuse, we know it may be hard to reach out and trust someone again, let us help you rebuild that trust by working aggressively to fight for your rights.
Call the nursing home abuse attorneys at Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers today at (888) 233-5020 to schedule a free case review. We’ll help your loved one get their life back.