Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse, or even more scarring. Emotional abuse can affect an elderly person’s health just as much as physical treatment. In this type of abuse, nursing home employees treat individuals wrong emotionally. The staff members can cause distress. This abuse is, unfortunately, the most difficult to track and determine. Emotional abuse is sometimes difficult to prove as an intentional criminal act. There is no physical evidence like bruises or marks. It is also the easiest type of abuse to cover up and hide. This means that other workers and residents may not even know it is occurring unless there is a witness.
Types of Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse can be both intentional and unintentional. This means that those who work with the elderly must be careful not to offend anyone. They shouldn’t say things that can be emotionally scarring. Verbal abuse can be identified if someone overhears what is occurring. Having a witness will make it easier to report the abuse. Some common types of emotional abuse include:
- Shouting and screaming.
- Threatening to or pretending to harm the individual.
- Intimidation through language or volume of words.
- Insulting or ridiculing the resident (especially in front of others).
- Talking down to the patient as if they were a child.
- Being cold and indifferent towards a patient.
- Making comments to make the individual feel as though they are to blame for their health and problems.
- Any other types of verbal cruelty to an elderly individual.
Nonverbal Emotional Abuse
Nonverbal abuse can be even more difficult to identify than verbal emotional abuse. It can be more difficult for the resident to manage that abuse. Additionally, with a lack of words it can be especially difficult to prove it is occurring. Some common types of nonverbal emotional abuse include:
- Ignoring the patient completely.
- Terrorizing them while pretending to cause physical harm. This makes them believe they will be in pain when they are not.
- Isolating the individual from others. This stops any form of socialization from other residents or friendly faces.
- Prohibiting them from speaking to others who wish to talk to them.
- Not allowing them to go outside.
- Limiting their access to food or water.
- Limiting their access to the bathroom.
- Hiding personal items or taking them away altogether.
Emotional abuse to the elderly can be difficult to prove. It can be even more difficult to prove that a staff member is purposely inflicting emotional harm. To ensure your loved one is safe, if you suspect emotional abuse, remove them from the nursing home. Try to place them in one more suitable for their emotional needs.
Though difficult to prove, there are several hints which allude to emotional abuse. The most common indicators include:
- Low self esteem.
- Seeming to feel hopeless or as a lost cause.
- Fear of speaking openly or answering questions about abuse.
- Mood swings and other personality changes.
- Desire to hurt oneself or other individuals.
- May seem to be prevented from making their own decisions.
- Changes in sleeping habits.
- Change in appetite or eating habits
- Not permitted or having no desire to partake in social interactions.
If experiencing one or more of these symptoms, the resident might want to talk to a counselor. This way, they will be able to discuss how they get treated in a safe environment where they do not have to be afraid.
It is important to make sure that loved ones and any elderly individual is treated with love and care. It is important to ensure the staff at the nursing home is loving and genuine. When caring for an elderly person, it is vital to observe and take note of how they react to how they get treated. Their nonverbal responses can say a lot about how they are feeling.