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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

What Is Psychological Abuse in a Nursing Home?

Nurses and doctors must care for and protect older adults living in nursing homes. However, many elders don't have the cognitive skills required to tell their loved ones they aren't receiving respectful and fair treatment from caregivers. Some are also afraid to talk about the abuse.


Unfortunately, many older adults become victims of emotional elder abuse, which occurs when they are threatened, belittled, or yelled at.


However, victims of elderly emotional abuse and their families can take legal action to hold at-fault parties accountable for their negligence and wrongdoing. Here's more information on what Texas laws say about these cases.


What Is Emotional Abuse?

What Is Emotional Abuse?


The term "emotional abuse" describes any verbal or non-verbal action that may cause emotional distress or mental anguish.


Emotional abuse can be just as severe as physical harm, leading to long-term mental health issues that can contribute to a decline in elders' overall health.


These are a few common forms of emotional abuse:

  • Intimidating and threatening people

  • Ridiculing or insulting elders

  • Making older adults feel distressed or guilty

  • Yelling or shouting at elders

  • Ignoring elders or providing silent treatment

  • Isolating them from other people, including friends and family

  • Preventing patients from participating in social activities

  • Terrorizing older adults

  • Threatening to withhold food or water

Although not addressed as often as physical abuse, emotional abuse can be frightening for elders, especially if they cannot stop or report it. Also, it's the most common type of abuse.


Recognizing Emotional Abuse: What Are The Common Symptoms?


A person suffering from emotional and psychological abuse may experience several symptoms. Although difficult to spot initially, these indicators appear as the abuse progresses and becomes tougher for victims.

Many people become timid, suffer from depression, or decide to withdraw when they experience psychological abuse. In some cases, victims may also become angry and agitated.


Additionally, elders suffering from emotional abuse may also experience the following:

  • Refuse to speak with others

  • Anxiety or fear of interacting with other people

  • Agitation

  • Sudden mood changes

  • Changes in personality or behavior

  • Excessive fear

  • Excessive nervousness

  • Sucking, rocking, or biting

  • Unusual behavior

As the abuse progresses, victims may also experience symptoms that affect their physical health. These are a few examples:

  • Sudden weight loss or gain

  • Loss of appetite

  • Insomnia or other sleep problems

  • Increased vulnerability to diseases

  • Recurring infections

  • Refusal to eat

  • Refusal to take medications as needed

However, it's important to remember that many victims don't feel comfortable talking about the abuse even if they experience these symptoms.


Emotional Abuse of Nursing Home Residents


Unfortunately, a nursing home resident is often vulnerable to psychological and emotional abuse.

Doctors and nurses have a duty to care for patients' mental and physical health. However, that is not always the case. Many older adults suffer psychological abuse in nursing homes.


This type of abuse involves inflicting trauma on another person through non-physical actions. In this case, it happens when a caregiver uses their power and control to intimidate, isolate, or scare a patient.


People working in a nursing home have a powerful position over patients. In addition, residents depend on the staff for their basic needs since they're in charge of providing food, water, and medicine.


Caregivers must also make sure nursing home residents are healthy and clean. However, many fail to fulfill these duties and neglect or abuse older adults.


Common Forms of Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes


These are the common forms of emotional or psychological abuse in nursing homes:

  • Yelling at residents

  • Mocking patients in private or in public

  • Shaming patients in front of others

  • Demeaning residents by talking about them in front of another person

  • Ignoring patients' requests

  • Accusing or blaming residents for something they didn't do

  • Threatening residents with physical or sexual abuse

  • Isolating residents from their loved ones

  • Preventing older adults to join social activities with other residents

  • Trivializing patients' concerns

  • Moving patient's necessary possessions, making it difficult for them to move around the nursing home

Unfortunately, these are only a few examples of what nursing home residents may experience from abusive staff.


Warning Signs of Emotional and Psychological Abuse in Nursing Homes


If an elderly person experiences abuse in nursing homes, they may develop the symptoms mentioned above. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can answer questions like, "How do you prove elder abuse in Texas?" However, other signs may show that elders are not receiving adequate and fair treatment in these facilities.


Some warning signs are directly related to the nursing home staff, including the following:

  • Past records of elder abuse

  • Poor treatment of residents in front of their families or other guests

  • Stressed or exhausted staff

  • Hostile reactions when a family member asks about their loved ones

  • Lack of concern for residents or their loved ones

  • Exaggerated concern or fake empathy when a family asks about a patient

  • Reduced staff with only one person caring for patients


Consequences of Emotional Abuse

Consequences of Emotional Abuse


Sadly, the consequences of emotional elder abuse can be severe. In the worst-case scenario, they can be catastrophic and permanent, increasing the risk of death.


Psychological and emotional abuse can cause stress and anxiety. Additionally, victims are vulnerable to other mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.


Many elders who experienced abuse in nursing homes also develop nervous disorders, which have a significant impact on their immune systems and affect a person's ability to fight infections.


As a result, older adults may lose weight, sustain severe physical injuries, and develop other life-threatening conditions.


Therefore, victims or their family members should seek help from a professional and experienced nursing home abuse attorney to initiate legal proceedings to hold at-fault parties accountable for their actions.


How an Attorney Can Help Elder Abuse Victims


In nursing homes, emotional abuse is not rare, but victims have the right to seek help from an attorney and file a claim against liable parties, whether they're residential care or assisted living facilities, medical personnel, or their own family members. They can explain the details of what constitutes elder abuse in Texas.


Attorneys know Texas elder abuse laws and can help victims fight for their rights, seek legal justice, and recover compensation for their damages or injuries.


At Schuerger Shunnarah, we have an experienced team of attorneys ready to guide victims of psychological or emotional abuse through the legal process. Call us today and get a free consultation. We go to war for our clients!

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