Since the idea of building nursing homes became a reality, there have been several stories about the abuse that goes on in there and nursing homes in New Bedford are not an exception. Despite all the reports and allegation of seniors being mistreated in nursing homes, we are still oblivious to how bad things are.
According to studies by National Center for Elder Abuse, 7.6 to 10% of seniors have been abused in nursing homes. The studies also show that for every 14-24 incidences of abuse that occur, only one is reported. Researchers found in another study conducted in 1999-2001 that instances of abuse occur in one third of all nursing homes in the United States.
These statistics only consist of reported incidences, which makes you wonder what about those that aren’t part of the statistics because they never reported? What’s even more worrying is people imagine abuse consists of physical assault so they only look for physical evidence.
Bruises, broken bones, malnutrition, bedsores among others are definite signs of abuse. While it’s important to watch out for signs of physical abuse, it’s also important to look out for signs of psychological abuse. Our New Bedford nursing home lawyer explains how seniors are psychologically abused in nursing homes.
How Psychological Abuse Happens in Nursing Homes
Psychological abuse can be verbal or non-verbal. It’s any action or inaction that causes a person emotional anguish.
Psychological abuse is more difficult to observe. More often psychological abuse is inflicted alongside other forms of abuse which in turn causes the residents to feel depressed and helpless. There are a number of ways that seniors can suffer psychological abuse in a nursing home.
Some of the abuse might be intentional or not but caregivers working in nursing homes are legally obligated to provide duty of care to the patients living there. Therefore, even if the abuse was unintentional, they will have to take responsibility for their actions.
1. Isolation and Neglect
Emotional neglect may be difficult to point out but it does exist. The staff may meet the specific needs of the resident but intentionally or unintentionally leave them out of activities or provide them with a lower level of care.
This kind of treatment can leave a senior feeling abandoned and cause them to sink into a depressive state.
2. Verbal Abuse
Some care givers are known to use humiliating, dismissive, abusive and even violent language when talking to elderly people. Not only can this leave the residents feeling scared or anxious, but other physical problems can also start to manifest.
What are the Signs of Psychological Abuse?
As mentioned previously, psychological abuse is not easy to identify. The signs may be difficult to identify at first but as the abuse continues, your loved one may begin to exhibit certain behavior that will tell you something is wrong. Psychological abuse tends to make someone become more withdrawn, depressed and timid. Some may become more aggressive and agitated after being abused. Signs of psychological abuse include:
- Unusual behavior like rocking, biting and sucking
- Nervousness or excessive fear
- Sudden change in behavior or personality
- Refusal to speak or interact with other people
- Withdrawal or depression
Some physical indicators of psychological abuse includes:
- Increased vulnerability to infection and injury
- Refusal to take medicine or to eat
- Sudden weight loss
- Loss of appetite
What are the Risk Factors for Psychological Abuse?
Some of the characteristics of the caregiver as well as that of the individual will increase the risk factors of abuse. For example, if the care giver suffers from drug abuse or is an alcoholic, has financial problems or suffers from depression, there’s a high chance they might abuse the residents. Other contributing factors include under-staffing in the home or if the caregiver does not have enough training to do the job properly.
Risk factors for residents to be subject to abuse include age and health. Generally, a resident who requires more care will be more vulnerable to abuse. The risk of abuse also increases when the resident is older, has cognitive or severe memory impairment.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Abuse?
The first thing that you should do if you suspect psychological abuse is remove the patient from the nursing home immediately and report the staff that is harming the patient. You should also report it to the authorities.
You should also consider hiring a New Bedford nursing home abuse lawyer to file a lawsuit. There are a wide variety of claims you can bring against the nursing home and the staff and an experienced lawyer will guide you through the process.
To find out how you can file a case against a nursing home, contact one of our Kevin P Landry nursing home abuse lawyers by calling 508-999-0800 or by visiting one of our New Bedford offices for a free initial consultation.