Emotional abuse occurs more often than physical or sexual abuse. Also known as psychological abuse, emotional abuse can take the form of verbal insults, humiliation, and intimidation. Emotional abuse may be verbal or nonverbal, and can include purposefully isolating someone from others, threatening or ridiculing them, or ignoring them.
A person suffering emotional abuse may experience low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. They may undergo sudden mood changes, becoming agitated, aggressive, or withdrawn. Victims of emotional abuse may act frightened, disturbed, or hopeless, and they may wish to cause harm to themselves or someone else. There may also be more telling changes in a victim’s social and behavioral habits. For example, they may begin adopting nervous habits like rocking, nail biting, and avoiding eye contact with others. There may be changes in their eating or sleeping patterns, and they may be restricted from doing things like interacting with other residents, making decisions for themselves, and seeing or calling friends and family members. They may also seem uncomfortable around nursing home staff, and they may be unwilling to talk openly, which signals a reluctance to talk about the abuse.
If you suspect your loved one has been a victim of emotional abuse, you should act quickly to remove your loved one from the abusive situation and reach out to legal counsel for help. A Georgia nursing home emotional abuse lawyer could help protect your loved one and hold the wrongdoers accountable.
Emotional and psychological abuse can have long-term effects on a nursing home resident’s emotional and physical health.
If possible, speak to your loved one. Many victims of abuse are reluctant to talk about it, which can be frustrating, but being patient and sympathetic with your loved one will be much more effective.
After speaking to your loved one, there are several people you should contact next. Depending on the situation, you may want to speak to the nursing home manager and tell them your concern. After listening to you, the manager should do everything they can to sever the abuser from your loved one. This may mean firing the abuser, if he or she is a caregiver or staff member, or increasing supervision and minimizing contact if the abuser is another resident.
You may also wish to contact a government caregiver to assess the situation and ensure your loved one receives just treatment. If you feel your loved one’s rights are being violated, consider consulting a lawyer to represent you and your loved one.
Nursing homes should do all they can to prevent emotional abuse. One of the most effective ways to prevent emotional abuse is by maintaining close supervision of nursing home caregivers, staff, and residents. Supervisors should be active in checking in on caregivers and residents frequently, and staff should be present to supervise social activities.
Nursing home managers should screen all prospective employees carefully through background checks, references, and interview questions. Managers should educate all staff members and caregivers about emotional abuse: what it consists of, how to detect it, and the importance of reporting it immediately. Above all, managers should impress upon staff members the serious nature of emotional abuse and the consequences for emotionally abusing a resident.
Nursing homes should also maintain a high number of staff. This helps prevent emotional abuse in a number of ways: it keeps caregivers from overworking themselves and becoming overly tired or frustrated – which sometimes leads to emotional abuse – and it makes it more difficult for a caregiver to get away with emotional abuse, because there are more people around to notice and report any abuse.
Emotional abuse may occur in nursing homes where staff are overworked, spread too thin, or dealing with problems in their own lives. A caregiver who suffers from depression or other psychological or behavioral issues is at greater risk to inflict emotional abuse on others. Additionally, stressors like financial difficulties, addictions, and relationship trauma may make a caregiver more likely to emotionally abuse a resident.
In nursing homes with a low number of staff and a high number of residents, caregivers may become overworked and exhausted, which may cause them to lose patience with residents and inflict emotional abuse. A low number of staff also means that caregivers can get away with abuse without anyone else noticing.
Some caregivers lack the necessary medical training to respond appropriately to residents’ needs, which can lead to frustration and a lack of sympathy or patience with residents.
Nursing home residents with mental impairments are at a higher risk for emotional abuse. Older, more vulnerable residents are often less capable of defending themselves from emotional abuse, and less capable of reporting it to others.
Nursing homes can be held responsible for emotional abuse because they have a legal duty to protect residents’ rights and ensure they receive the highest possible quality of life. This includes freedom from all types of abuse, including emotional and psychological abuse. Nursing home residents have a legal right to dignity, respect, and freedom; and emotional abuse violates that right.
Since nursing homes have a legal duty to protect residents’ rights, they can be held responsible for any instances of emotional abuse that occur in the nursing home. This is especially true if a nursing home neglects to do all it reasonably can to prevent emotional abuse from occurring and fails to respond immediately when it does occur.
If a nursing home is found to be at fault in an instance of emotional abuse, then the law requires that facility to compensate the victim. Usually, this means the nursing home must pay a certain amount of money in damages to the nursing home resident who has suffered the abuse. In this case, damages refers to any pain and suffering the victim experienced because of abuse. Contact a Georgia nursing home emotional abuse lawyer to discuss a potential claim.