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Emotional Abuse in California Nursing Homes

When most think of “nursing home abuse,” the first thing that comes to mind is physical elder abuse. But the range of elder abuse is much more extensive, encompassing emotional abuse as well as physical abuse. While emotional elder abuse is thought to be the most common form of elder abuse, it is also the most difficult to detect, as it is rarely, if ever, accompanied by physical evidence. It is nonetheless extremely damaging to the mental health of its victims, resulting in a lower quality of life and, in some cases contributing to declines in physical health. Below, a California nursing home abuse attorney explains what emotional abuse is and how to spot it. 

Examples of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse occurs when a caregiver causes the victim to suffer emotional pain or distress. It encompasses an extraordinarily wide range of behaviors of both verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Some of the most common forms of emotional abuse in nursing homes include: 

  • Yelling, shouting, or screaming at the victim
  • Mocking, humiliating, or ridiculing the victim
  • Intimidating and threatening the victim
  • Isolating the victim from family and friends
  • Terrorizing or menacing the victim
  • Scapegoating or blaming the victim
  • Embarrassing the victim in front of others
  • Causing the victim to question his or her sanity
  • Treating the victim like a child

It is not always clear why emotional abuse occurs or why abusers target particular victims. In some cases, the abuse may be unintentional, such as when a facility is understaffed and caregivers are overworked. In other cases, the abuse may be intentional, such as when the abuser derives pleasure from preying on the weak or uses emotional abuse tactics to coerce the victim into signing over her assets to the abuser. 

Red Flags that Emotional Abuse May Be Occurring in a California Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility 

Everyone responds to emotional abuse differently. Some individuals have so-called “thick skins” and can either tune out emotional abuse or put a stop to it themselves. Other individuals, such as those with low self-esteem, insecurities, or pre-existing mental health conditions, are more vulnerable to emotional abuse. Each person also shows different symptoms, making it difficult for loved ones to determine whether and when emotional abuse is occurring. However, there are a few common red flags that emotional abuse may be occurring, such as: 

  • The victim is shy, withdrawn, or otherwise “not herself” 
  • The victim is afraid to speak in the presence of a particular staff member
  • The victim exhibits sudden changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • The victim avoids eye contact when talking to friends and family 
  • Sudden and unexplained personality changes 
  • Fearfulness when visitors prepare to depart

If you suspect that someone you love is suffering emotional abuse in a nursing home, please contact a California nursing home abuse attorney who can help you investigate and prevent further harm. 

Contact the Elder Care and Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers at the Evans Law Firm 

Emotional abuse can result in a severely diminished quality of life and shortened lifespan. If you suspect that someone you love is suffering emotional abuse in a nursing home, please contact a California nursing home abuse attorney at Evans Law Firm by using our online form or calling us at 415-441-8669. 

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