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Is Your Elderly Loved One the Victim of Emotional Abuse?


Some families might not have the resources or the necessary skills to care for older family members who need 24-hour medical and personal care. Deciding to put an elderly loved one into the care of others is often traumatic and seldom done out of choice. Although most nursing homes and elder care facilities provide excellent care, sadly, this is not always the case.

While most people know which red flags to look for while visiting their loved ones in nursing homes, to detect signs of physical abuse, picking up signs of emotional abuse could be significantly more challenging. This type of abuse can involve calmly uttered insults or aggressive verbal attacks.

Protect your loved ones

Because of the possibility of both physical and emotional abuse, the following steps might prevent it all together:

  • Keep in touch and visit frequently. Make sure the chosen facility has the technology to allow Skype or Facetime; teach your loved one how it works and then have regular face-to-face conversations, especially if distance is an issue.
  • Talk on the phone regularly because abusers often target isolated elders. Isolation can cause depression that will make the person more vulnerable.
  • Encourage the elder to socialize. He or she might be more comfortable to mention abuse to friends than to family members or other relatives.

If the elderly relative has dementia, or fears retribution and neglect, he or she might be unable to tell you what is happening.

Signs of emotional abuse of elders

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you might be wise to look out for the following tell-tale signs of verbal and emotional abuse:

  • Look out for strange behavior like rocking or biting.
  • Check for unusual apathy and withdrawal during visits and telephone conversations.
  • Be watchful when the caregiver is present, and look for any signs of fearfulness or tension between your loved one and the caregiver.
  • Another indication of emotional abuse is forced-isolation from other residents in the facility.

Emotional abuse is always difficult to identify, and without careful observation, you might not know of your loved one’s suffering. These injuries leave no bruises or broken bones, but they hurt much deeper. It could involve comments wishing the person dead, or threats of physical harm or other punishment.

Steps you can take

If you have to deal with such a situation, you will likely have questions about the legal steps you can take against the abuser. You might find the answers, along with invaluable support and guidance, by consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney. A law firm with board-certified civil trial specialists can explain your options and assist throughout ensuing legal proceedings.