Nursing home abuse is a widespread problem in the U.S. that may go unnoticed until it becomes too severe to ignore. Patients may suffer from neglect and violence for months or even years before the discovery of the abuse.
Facilities often refuse to report incidents of abuse as well. Physical signs of abuse and neglect include sores, bruises, cuts, malnourishment, dehydration and dirty bed linens. However, these signs are not always due to abuse, making true cases of it hard to identify, and abuse does not always leave visible markers.
Emotional abuse is also nursing home abuse
Emotional mistreatment may scar elderly loved ones just as much as hitting or rough handling. It is not uncommon for nursing home attendants to use their position of power to psychologically damage those in their care through verbal and nonverbal means. This may include yelling, humiliation, isolation or menacing. It may also involve giving them the silent treatment, denying them access to certain things, emotionally manipulating them to feel shame or guilt and scapegoating them among other actions.
Emotional abuse may result in symptoms similar to dementia
Elderly victims of emotional abuse may display signs of regression, such as thumb-sucking or rocking back and forth. They may also suddenly change in personality, becoming withdrawn, aggressive or agitated. They may also show signs of fear and refuse to look people in the eyes or stop talking completely.
As prevalent as it is in nursing homes, emotional abuse is difficult to detect because its effects resemble those of dementia. It is also harder to prove without catching a caregiver in the act as it does not leave physical signs. Emotional abuse has the potential to cause deep emotional and psychological damage and individuals who suspect their elderly loved ones are victims of it may need to take action.