A recent news story detailed the abuse of an elderly female dementia patient in a Florida assisted living center. This time, the two healthcare aides live-streamed their abuse of the helpless woman on Instagram. Sadly the emotional elder abuse inflicted was unconscionable. In this case though both were fired and then arrested on criminal charges by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department, she and her family likely also have a civil case for emotional elder abuse.
Of the many types of elder abuse, emotional abuse like this case in Florida is the most common. Belittling, yelling, threatening physical harm, or ignoring an elderly patient can all be considered emotional abuse. Elderly people subjected to this abuse can develop anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental illness as a result.
What Is Emotional Elder Abuse?
Also called psychological abuse, emotional elder abuse involves using actions or words to intimidate, belittle or demean an older person. Emotional abuse may or may not be inflicted in conjunction with physical, financial, or other types of abuse against an elder.
There are several ways that a relative, caregiver or other person involved can inflict emotional abuse against an elder:
• Threats of withholding needs or critical services or support, or institutionalizing someone who is living at home
• Verbal abuse—yelling, belittling, and making threats, especially when no one else is around
• Isolating the elder from relatives, friends, and others, and making comments that indicate their family or friends no longer love them
• Threatening assault (raising a hand or object as if you will hit them)
• Ignoring the elder, i.e., the “silent treatment”
• Limiting their freedom and choices so that they lose their independence
• Limiting access to necessities such as food, water, restroom facilities, etc.
Emotional abuse may later escalate into other types of physical abuse or financial abuse (when an elder is intimidated into giving the abuser money, property, or other assets).
The most likely targets are seniors who are disabled, and seniors with dementia or memory problems. Elders who have no local family or friends are also frequent targets.
Stopping The Abuse
If you notice a senior citizen whose personality has changed such as become withdrawn or fearful (especially when a particular person is around), or exhibit other concerning signs, this can be a red flag that abuse is happening. Abuse can be from a caretaker, relative, or another nursing home resident is happening. These signs should not be ignored.
Continued emotional abuse can harm an elder’s mental health and lead to early death. It can impact relationships with family and friends, and lead to serious financial losses if left unchecked. If you have a loved one who you suspect is experiencing emotional elder abuse, you can take control and put a stop to the behavior.
• Speak to your loved one about the possibility of abuse happening to them at some point. Encourage them to speak up and not be afraid to do so.
• Visit more frequently and unexpectantly. If your elder is in a nursing facility, frequent visits at random times let staff and residents know you are paying attention.
• Review their finances
• Move them if possible
• Retain an elder abuse attorney
If you need help, you can contact the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services at 800-352-6513. This hotline is available 24/7. Call 911 immediately if your elder is in immediate danger, because as with the Florida case, abuse of another is illegal.
Defending The Vulnerable In Charleston, WV
Sadly at nursing homes and similar settings, elder emotional as well as physical abuse can happen. You expect your loved ones to be taken care of, professionally and competently. When this does not happen, in West Virginia, get experienced elder abuse lawyer Chad Love on your side who can help protect your loved ones and arrange for compensation for the damages suffered.
Protect your elderly parent or loved one and contact The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344-5683 for a free consultation. We’ve helped many West Virginians fight for their loved ones in nursing homes, and we’re ready to fight for you too.