Unlike other kinds of elder mistreatment, emotional abuse can be more difficult to identify and prove. That is why loved ones must stay alert to signs that something could be wrong with their relative’s care. Doctors, medical staff, and other residents may be the culprits of elder emotional abuse. No one wants to imagine that their senior loved one is being abused by those who are supposed to be taking care of them, but it can and does happen. Examples of emotional abuse can include:
- Threatening to isolate the resident
- Purposefully placing assistive devices out of reach
- Scolding, degrading, or humiliating
- Intentionally causing long wait time to receive care, food, or medication
- Interfering with the resident’s decision making
- Being verbally aggressive or instigating
Essentially, emotional elder abuse is when someone tries to control their freedom, make them feel intimidated or scared, or inflict words that cause mental stress. Emotional abuse can happen independently or in conjunction with physical abuse. This kind of mistreatment can have devastating impacts on the overall health of the resident. Emotional abuse can be non-verbal or verbal, but both can cause the victim immense mental pain and suffering, and should not be discounted.
Non-verbal emotional elder abuse can be things like using a mean tone of voice, blaming, causing shame or guilt, embarrassing, ridiculing, name-calling, intimidating, talking down to, threatening to harm, swearing, yelling, etc. Non-verbal abuse can be observed in ways such as hiding of personal belongings, ignoring the resident, isolating from others, refusing to speak to resident, terrorizing them, etc.
If you observe these common emotional abuse indicators in your loved one, then you may want to intervene immediately:
- Deep sadness
- Agitation or easily irritated
- Confusion that isn’t a symptom of health issue
- General nervousness or anxiety
- Self-neglect or harm
- Sudden changes in mood
- Sleep or eating problems
- Withdrawing from loved ones
- Refusing to be assisted by certain staff members
- Cowering when specific people are around
- Avoiding eye contact
- Hesitant to speak openly to loved ones when questioned
Reporting elder abuse is imperative to the health and wellbeing of the senior resident. Swift action must be taken if family members notice something is not normal with their loved one that has nothing to do with a medical condition. As our elder law lawyer associates from Kaplan Law Practice, LLC would agree with, taking prompt action by contacting a lawyer and authorities is the best way to keep your relative safe from further harm.