Residents of nursing homes are vulnerable to abuse and neglect, both because of their age and because they lack family close by to help.
Cases are not uncommon and often go unreported. Physical abuse and neglect may occur because of understaffing, lack of care or cruelty. However, mistreatment may be psychological as well.
What constitutes psychological abuse?
Nursing home abuse may manifest as verbal abuse or harassment. Employees or other residents may also humiliate residents, deny them needed items or opportunities (going to the bathroom for instance) or try to exert control over them in other ways. Intimidation, threats and isolation also constitute psychological abuse.
What signs indicate psychological abuse?
Indicators of mental or emotional abuse include cognitive decline, such as memory loss, decreased ability to concentrate and regression to childlike behaviors. Elderly loved ones exposed to it may also exhibit sudden depression, anxiety or anger or dramatic mood swings. They may seem sad or zoned out frequently, lash out randomly or display unreasonable fear. They may talk less or refuse visitors when they did not before. They may also express feelings of shame.
Not all signs come from the residents. If the caretakers at the nursing home refuse to allow visits without a legitimate reason or talk disrespectfully about loved ones, they may be perpetrators of psychological abuse. The indicators mentioned here do not always mean psychological abuse is present. Illness may also result in them. However, they are serious signs and family members need to take them as such.
Psychological abuse can damage individuals just like physical abuse and neglect can. When indicators point to its potential existence, it may be time to investigate.