There have been a lot of stories over the past several years about how much abuse goes on in nursing homes around the country, and most people are well aware of the fact that many of our seniors are getting mistreated.
But that doesn’t mean you really understand how bad things are. The National Center for Elder Abuse has compiled studies showing that anywhere from 7.6 to 10 percent of all seniors have suffered from abuse. Worse, various studies estimate that only one incident of abuse is reported for every 14 to 24 that occur. And in a study conducted from 1999 to 2001, but only recently reported to the public, researchers found that instances of abuse occur at nearly one-third of all nursing homes in the United States.
If you have an older relative in an assisted living facility or nursing home, this report was probably particularly disturbing, and you may be watching out for signs of physical abuse when you visit. Some of the most common things to look for are bruises, broken bones, clothes that are torn or bloody, marks that seem to be from restraints, and signs of neglect, such as malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, and a sudden loss of weight. Even excessive injuries from falls, which can be serious or very minor, can be a sign that someone is abusing your loved one.
But while it’s vital that you pay attention to these signs of physical abuse and neglect and report them as soon as you notice them, don’t forget it’s just as important to watch out for signs that your loved one is being psychologically abused.
How Are Seniors Psychologically Abused in Nursing Homes?
There are a number of different ways that seniors can suffer psychological abuse in senior living facilities. Some of them may not even be intentional by the people who are supposed to be taking care of them, but they can still cause lasting harm to your loved one, and caregivers who engage in this kind of behavior – regardless of whether they intended to harm their residents or not – are not living up to the legal obligations of their station.
Verbal abuse. Some caregivers have been known to speak to the elderly people in their care in a manner that is violent, intimidating, threatening, humiliating, dismissive, offensive, or simply hurtful and can leave the resident anxious or scared. Over time, these psychological symptoms can even cause physical problems to manifest when the abuse is serious enough.
Isolation and neglect. While there can be physical signs of neglect for seniors, emotional neglect can cause big problems, too. This happens when caregivers intentionally or unintentionally leave specific residents out and provide them with a lower level of care than other residents. Even if their physical needs are technically being met, this kind of behavior can leave a senior feeling like they don’t matter and cause them to stop taking care of themselves and sink into a depressive state. This form of psychological abuse is difficult to identify and prove unless there are accompanying physical problems, but it does exist.
Signs of Emotional Abuse in Seniors
If you want to know if your loved one is being psychologically abused, the best thing to do is check in on them more frequently so you can see how they are treated and how they interact with everyone around them at the facility. Often, abused seniors don’t report abuse because they are afraid of retaliation or – worse – that they won’t be believed. Some may even feel the treatment is “deserved” or somehow their fault.
Some common signs of psychological abuse in elderly nursing home residents include:
Visible depression that coincides with their time at the nursing home
Visible anger that coincides with their time at the nursing home
Frequently blaming themselves for problems that are insignificant and/or for which they bear no responsibility
Displaying a high level of anxiety or fear whenever they are around certain people
“False dementia” – rocking, sucking, and mumbling
Unfortunately, none of these signs are actual proof that any abuse is going on, and can easily be signs of something else entirely. If you notice any of these signs, the first thing you should do is to ask your loved one if anyone is bothering or hurting them. You can also try to talk to other residents who are coherent and staff members that you like and trust.
If it seems like abuse truly is occurring, the first thing you should try to do is move them out of that facility as soon as possible, then talk to the authorities and file a complaint with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. After you’ve removed your relative from the negative situation and brought the problem to the attention of the appropriate people, contact an experienced elder abuse attorney immediately.
There are a wide variety of claims that you can bring against abusive caregivers and nursing homes, including allegations of physical, verbal, sexual, and financial abuse, as well as neglect. There are different things that need to be proven in each type of case, so it’s in your best interest to work with a knowledgeable professional who can guide you through the legal process and make sure that you and your loved one are compensated for what you had to endure, and that the heinous acts that occurred won’t happen to someone else.
About the Author:
Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale- based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.
Buy a car? Need minimum liability required. Buy a house? Got to have a homeowners’ policy. Living and breathing? Government says you better have health coverage or else. So why does it seem then that those insurance companies that we hire and pay regular monthly premiums to continue to fight so hard against acting in [..]
In June 2018, a horrific crash was caught on camera near Orlando. In this very dramatic footage, the vehicle is seen drifting into a concrete barrier at the toll plaza on the Florida Turnpike near St. Cloud. The impact ejects one of the four passengers onboard out through the windshield and sends him flying for [..]
If you recently suffered injuries from night out on the town, you know that slip and fall injuries are no joke. People have received millions of dollars in compensation after slipping and falling at a store or a bar. Maybe you want to pursue one of these lawsuits yourself. After all, the medical bills are [..]
If you have recently suffered a personal injury and are currently considering filing a claim, you are likely asking yourself whether the effort will be worth your time. Frankly, the answer to that question depends on what the incident has cost you. In a personal injury case, when a judge or jury finds there is [..]
No turn signals, sudden stops, swerving – driving on the road in Florida can feel like an accident waiting to happen. Even if you’ve lived in the state your whole life, it can be incredibly frustrating to drive here. Worse, the blame is shared between retirees, tourists, and just downright bad drivers. Unfortunately, it appears [..]
As a homeowner, you pay your premium for homeowner’s insurance trusting that your insurer will do right by you in the event that the worst happens. That they will pay out for covered damages. This is known as acting in good faith. Although most insurers operate ethically and meet their obligations to policyholders, it’s also [..]
When Harry Davila and his children first came to us in September of 2018, they were heartbroken and deep in grief. Harry had lost his dear wife Mary, and his children had lost their beloved mother. However, their sorrow not only came from the fact that they lost her to breast cancer earlier that month, [..]
This may be obvious, but if you are at fault in a car crash, you can’t receive compensation from anyone. However, you may be too quick to blame yourself if your brakes failed and caused the crash. There are a number of parties who could potentially be at fault for your car accident, so don’t [..]
Are you traveling with your children over spring break? Use these tips to keep your kids safe while you enjoy your family vacation. Prepping for Your Trip Since a trip to the emergency room is needed in a shocking 25 percent of all family vacations, it’s wise to prepare ahead of time for family safety. [..]
Did your child get a new bike over the holidays? Are they begging you to let them bike to school… but you’re feeling hesitant about it? Your worries are understandable. Florida can be a dangerous place for cyclists, and kids aren’t exactly known for being careful. However, children need to have some sense of autonomy, [..]
Bars and advertisements for alcoholic products often encourage people to “drink responsibly,” but in some cases, the establishments or bartenders serving these drinks may be at least partially liable for a patron’s alcohol-related injury or death. Under certain circumstances, bars can—and should—be held responsible for over-serving patrons. Many states have “dram shop” laws (named [..]
The death of a loved one is traumatic and devastating experience— regardless of the cause. However, the ordeal can be especially upsetting if the death could have been avoided had it not been for the negligent actions of another. In Florida, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for [..]
Summertime is quickly approaching, which means barbecues, family vacations, and a lot of days sitting by the pool. While you and your loved ones enjoy the hot summer weather and cool water, it is important to keep yourself safe. In this post we will be focusing on swimming pool injuries and how to prevent them. [..]
Right now, all Florida drivers are required to have car insurance coverage that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, but that may come to an end in 2019 if some lawmakers get their way. Florida currently operates under a “no-fault” system when it comes to paying insurance claims after a car accident. If a [..]
When you become a parent, every little decision regarding your child’s safety and development can become a hot debate. We’re not going to tell you how to raise your child, but we do have one piece of advice backed up with statistics from the AAP and NHTSA. When you are driving with your child, [..]
It’s not every day that you get into an accident and need to file a personal injury protection (PIP) suit. This type of litigation may be confusing to many, especially since PIP laws are constantly being debated and changed in Florida. However, it is possible for you to get through this process and receive [..]
Car accidents can result in tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs. How is it decided who will have to pay for these damages and bills? In Florida, it usually starts with personal injury protection (PIP). If you experience damages that add up to less than [..]
Image: http://pixabay.com/en/dog-man-attacking-canine-training-78117/ When Pets Attack, They Can Cause Serious or Even Fatal Injuries Most people like dogs. How can you resist those adoring eyes, the wagging tail, and the warm, fuzzy head that seems to appear in your lap just when you’re feeling your lowest? So many Americans like dogs, in fact, that [..]
What are your chances of getting hit by someone driving a rental car in Florida? Every year, the state of Florida has 15 million active drivers on its many roads and highways. About 250,000 drivers end up in car crashes annually in Florida. Since almost 85 million visitors come to enjoy Florida every year, [..]
School is out, but that doesn’t mean your child has to be stuck at home for the summer with no structure and nothing to do. Summer camps are a great way to keep your child active, supervised, and having fun – while also allowing them to branch out. However, summer camps come with a lot [..]
This law firm helped me with my car accident case and helped me to get the most of the medical benefits that were needed after the accident, and gave me fair and helpful expectations on what I would recieve back for the pain and suffering after the accident.