Nursing Home Abuse:

Mental Suffering

Nursing home mental abuse is the intentional infliction of anguish, degradation, fear, or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts. Monetary damages may be awarded for a nursing home resident's (or his or her survivor's) pain, suffering, disfigurement, and impaired enjoyment of life. Damages awarded for the pain someone suffers can be for physical and mental pain. Damages that can be awarded for mental suffering are:

  • Fear of the consequences of an injury while awaiting help
  • Fear experienced in the period between realizing an incident likely to cause injury was going to occur and the time of occurrence
  • Fear experienced after an injury about what else could have happened
  • Anxiety about one's physical health and future well-being
  • Fear of the need for future surgery as a result of one's injuries
  • Fear of increased vulnerability to future injury
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Mental abuse in nursing homes can be found in a variety of forms, including:

  • Verbal Degradation: This type of mental abuse is common in nursing homes. While many nursing home employees are kind to residents, many staff members yell or scream at the resident to act in a certain way. They may also degrade residents, make sarcastic remarks or insult the residents about their inability to control bodily functions.
  • Verbal Threats: Verbal threats are often directed at a particular resident. An example of a verbal threat is when a nursing home employee tells a resident that they will not be provided with food at the next meal if they don't eat in a certain way or if they don't finish all of their food.
  • Emotional Manipulation: Manipulation occurs when one person dishonestly influences another for his or her own advantage. Many nursing home residents can be manipulated to overlook other forms of abuse for fear of not receiving attention or care. Nursing home residents are easily manipulated to behave in ways that do not create "problems" for the nursing home staff, but in turn create problems for the resident.
  • Emotional Threats: Emotional threats occur when a nursing home resident is placed in a position that keeps him or her from speaking out. An example of an emotional threat is if one resident sees another resident being abused by an employee and the employee raises a fist to the witness to keep him or her silent.
  • Isolation: This occurs when a nursing home staff member gives the resident the "silent treatment" or isolates the resident from family, friends, or regular social activities.