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Friday, July 13, 2018
An older adult in a nursing home or assisted living facility is at risk of being abused or neglected. Sadly, most of these cases go unreported and unnoticed. The signs are not always inherently clear, especially for emotional or financial abuse. This makes it hard for family members to recognize the problem right away.
Emotional abuse comes in many forms. Physical abuse is often apparent from bruising, broken bones, and other outright signs. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is one of the more common and underreported, because the symptoms are not as psychically visible.
Emotional abuse may happen in the nursing home and assisted living facility setting. The abuse itself may come from a caregiver, assistant, volunteer, or family member. It typically involves emotional or psychological distress and pain, which can cause long-term damage.
Emotional abuse does not require verbal contact. In some instances, it can be nonverbal gestures. Therefore, it is vital that you understand the ways a person can be emotionally abused so that you better understand how to look out for symptoms of the psychological distress that stems from it.
According to the American Public Health Association, they estimate that 2.5 million elders were victims of emotional abuse in 2006. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is more underreported than physical, so these numbers could be higher. Neglect is the most commonly reported type of abuse in nursing homes, and physical abuse cases often report emotional abuse as well.
Not all emotional abuses cases have physical violence, but a clear majority do.
Without a physical scar left behind, identifying emotional abuse becomes more difficult. However, there are some common signs a person might display if they are the victim of psychological abuse, including:
The symptoms of emotional abuse can overlap regular depression at times, which makes it hard for the abuse itself to be diagnosed. Sometimes, family members will assume their loved one is depressed, and medical professionals may diagnose and treat the depression without finding the underlying cause.
If you suspect emotional abuse, report those suspicions to the government agency overseeing nursing home care in your state immediately. The state assigns a caregiver advocate who will then investigate the potential abuse. These individuals are trained in diagnosing emotional abuse and neglect. They will ask a series of questions to the potential victim as well as interview caregivers and other residents in the facility to identify whether emotional abuse is occurring.
Emotional abuse, especially abuse that can continue for several months, can cause long-term psychological trauma. A person may fear those outside of their comfort circle, be unable to handle new caregivers out of fear, and suffer from long-term depression or anxiety. Some may even have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from their experience.
Once emotional abuse is diagnosed, removing the person from the environment is the first step toward recovery. They will be placed somewhere they feel safe, which might include living with family or attending an adult daycare. Then a counselor will help work with the victim. Physicians may need to prescribe medications to help the victim cope with the distress, recover sleep, and calm anxiety.
When a nursing home resident feels helpless, scared, or suffers from emotional trauma in a nursing home, the caregiver and the nursing home itself might be liable for the damage caused.
Emotional abuse is extraordinarily challenging to treat, and the suffering associated with it is often long-term. Victims may be permanently scarred from the trauma, require ongoing medication and care, and might be unable to return to a nursing home. This means family members must take on the costs of caring for their loved one at home.
Victims of emotional abuse in a nursing home have the right to hold the nursing home and associated parties financially liable.
It is best to consult with an attorney if you think you have a case for nursing home abuse, including emotional abuse. An attorney will evaluate the factors in your case and determine what compensation you may qualify for.
Some common types of compensation seen in emotional abuse cases include:
While you have reported the incident to the state, you may still want to consult with an attorney. The state does not file a lawsuit on your behalf to seek compensation. They may bring charges and fines against the nursing home that caused your loved one’s distress, but to receive personal compensation you must file a claim against the nursing home or caregiver yourself.
An attorney can help you through this process. The team at Malman Law understands what you and your loved one are going through, and we want to help. We hold nursing homes accountable for their negligence, and we ensure that our victims receive compensation for their financial losses so that they can focus on recovering from the trauma of emotional abuse without financial worries looming in the background.
Explore your options today by contacting one of our attorneys for a free, no-risk consultation. You can schedule your appointment now by calling 888-625-6265 or by requesting an interview online.
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NOAH TAFFELPersonal Injury Victim