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A Guide to Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes

Garcia & Artigliere

When nursing homes are short-staffed or employees are improperly screened, residents become vulnerable to abuse. Abuse can be physical as well as emotional.

emotional abuse in nursing home abuseEmotional abuse, also known as psychological abuse, may be harder to detect than physical abuse but it can be just as damaging ­or even worse. Emotional abuse can rob patients of their sense of self-worth. It can even lead to suicide.

How to Identify Emotional Abuse?

It is emotionally abusive for nursing home staff to:

  • Yell
  • Humiliate
  • Degrade
  • Intimidate
  • Threaten
  • Neglect/Isolate
  • Ridicule
  • Terrorize
  • Scapegoat

This shameful treatment is incredibly harmful and can cause nursing home residents to lose their self-confidence and self-respect. If your loved one lives in a nursing home, you should be aware of possible signs of emotional abuse.

Symptoms of Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse can cause a victim’s personality to change. Be alert for any unexplained changes, including:

  • Increased withdrawal from other people.
  • Greater fearfulness or anxiety.
  • Changes in usual eating or sleeping habits.
  • Increased aggression towards others.
  • Increased depression and mood swings.
  • A new sense of hopelessness.
  • Unexpected shyness, including lack of eye contact.
  • Attempts to hurt self or others.
  • Any other personality changes or signs of psychological distress.

It’s important to know that other residents, not just nursing home employees, can be abusers too. Sometimes residents victimize other residents. Even volunteers can be emotionally abusive. In all scenarios of abuse, hiring a nursing home lawyer may be necessary.

Emotional Abuse Is a Serious Problem

Although the signs of emotional abuse are not as visible as the signs of physical abuse, the effects of emotional abuse can be devastating. One study compared elderly women who were emotionally abused with those who were physically abused. The researchers found that emotionally abused women suffered worse declines in mental health than the physically abused group.

Seek Help from an Elder Abuse Lawyer

By looking out for signs of possible emotional abuse, you can protect your loved one from harm. If you suspect your loved one is suffering from abuse, contact a nursing home lawyer.

The law firm of Garcia & Artigliere is a national leader in nursing home abuse litigation. Call us at (800) 328-2630 for a free and confidential consultation with an experienced nursing home lawyer.


We offer free and confidential consultations. Call (800) 328-2630 Learn About Your Legal Options

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