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3 Signs of emotional abuse in nursing home residents

Nursing homes provide the care your loved ones need to ease their daily routine. But even in these safe places, elders can experience abuse and neglect from their caregivers. Emotional abuse is one common form of abuse that a nursing home resident might experience.

Look for the signs

Because emotional abuse does not result in physical symptoms or bodily harm, it is more likely to go unnoticed. An emotionally abusive caregiver might employ any of the following tactics on your loved one:

  • Derogatory language
  • Constant criticism
  • Manipulation
  • Intimidation
  • Threats

Unfortunately, because of these tactics, your loved one might be afraid to speak to you about their experiences. If that is the case, here are some signs to look for in your loved one that may point to evidence of emotional abuse.

1. Change in behavior

A sudden change in your loved one's habits or behaviors is a telltale sign that something is wrong. They may start avoiding eye-contact with you or experience changes in eating or sleeping patterns. The stress of emotional abuse may also manifest through irritability, aggression or violence.

Changes in behavior such as these can also indicate dementia, brain injury or another medical condition. In addition to a doctor's visit, be sure to investigate the details of your loved one's care following changes in behavior. It's important to have all the facts before ruling out the potential of emotional abuse.

2. Change in mood

Because emotional abuse targets the mental well-being of an elder, you might notice significant changes in your loved one's mood. These changes may appear as:

  • Depression
  • Shame
  • Fear
  • Distress
  • Hopelessness
  • Low self-esteem

3. Increase in isolation

If your loved one does not wish to see friends or family anymore for no apparent reason, it may be a sign of emotional abuse. They might also stop participating in nursing home activities, keep to themselves during activities or stop socializing with the other residents.

It's important not to write these symptoms off as signs of aging or dementia. They might be indicators that your loved one is not receiving the care they need. If your loved one has experienced abuse in their nursing home, reaching out to an attorney can help you and your family understand your options.

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