Nursing Home Abuse:

Emotional Problems and Mental Abuse

Mental abuse, also known as psychological or emotional abuse, is the intentional infliction of fear, degradation, anguish, or distress through verbal or nonverbal actions.

  • Verbal degradation is a common form of nursing home abuse. Staff members may yell at the resident to act in a particular way or make sarcastic or insulting comments. Verbal threats are a more severe form of abuse. Threats may including telling a resident he or she may not receive another meal if they continue to eat sloppily.
  • Emotional manipulation occurs when a staff member influences a resident for their own advantage. Residents can be manipulated into acting in ways that don’t cause problems for staff, but may create problems for the resident. A nursing home resident may fear asking for a glass of water, but if they do not receive one, it can lead to dehydration of elders.
  • Emotional threats occur when a resident is placed in a situation that keeps him or her from speaking out. If a resident sees a staff member raising a fist to another resident to keep silent, the witness may become silent in fear of becoming the next victim.
  • Lastly, a nursing home resident may be given the silent treatment or put in isolation from family, friends and activities.

Emotional abuse is detectable in your loved one's changes in mood or behavior. If you suspect emotional abuse, talk to your loved one first, but remember he or she may be reticent on account of fear, pride, or shame. Speak with the facility if talking to your loved one does not put you at ease. Keep records of everyone you speak to, and contact a nursing home abuse attorney to ensure that your nursing home resident's rights are protected.