Nursing home abuse and neglect affects some of the most vulnerable members of our society. The people in these facilities are our parents and grandparents. They deserve better. Physical abuse may be easy to spot, due to bruising or bodily scars. Signs of emotional abuse and neglect are much subtler, though no less traumatic to the victim. Elderly patients in nursing home facilities need to be closely monitored for signs of emotional abuse and neglect by the medical and support staff at the facility, as well as all family members, friends, and relatives who come to visit the patient. When abuse is suspected or confirmed, it needs to be taken seriously and reported to the nursing home administration and to local authorities when warranted.
Emotional abuse and neglect of nursing home patients can be difficult to detect. There are many types of abuse, each leaving the patient with emotional scars that can be as painful and damaging as those that occur with physical violence. These include:
The National Center on Elder Abuse and the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported over six million cases of elder abuse in 2010, with over 400,000 of these cases involving emotional abuse. Sadly, these statistics show that nearly ten percent (10%) of elderly residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities suffer some form of emotional abuse or neglect.
The signs of emotional abuse and neglect in the elderly are often subtle and require careful and continuous monitoring by nursing home staff and the loved ones of the nursing home resident. Some of the most common symptoms include:
Though these symptoms may occur in elderly people from time to time, when they appear suddenly, or indicate a distinct change from the patient’s normal behavior, abuse or neglect should be suspected and investigated.
As soon as emotional abuse or neglect is suspected, it needs to be reported immediately. Doctors, nurses, medical assistants, or staff of the nursing home should report all signs of emotional abuse or neglect to the administration. Family members, friends, and loved ones of the nursing home resident should report their suspicions to the medical staff and the administration of the facility. All suspicions need to be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. Prompt attention needs to be given to each case.
If the authorities fail to give the claim sufficient attention, the suspected abuse should be reported to local law enforcement and state authorities. If the nursing home is in New Jersey, victims or their family members can call or log onto the New Jersey Department of Health website to report the facility and the abuse. In all situations where emotional or physical abuse and neglect is suspected, it is advisable to contact an experienced elder abuse and neglect lawyer who is familiar with the laws of the state and committed to protecting the rights of the elderly victim. They can ensure that there is a full investigation into the claim and will maintain consistent monitoring of the patient’s health to make sure the abuse doesn’t continue.