Sadly, hundreds of thousands of elderly people are abused, taken advantage of, and neglected by their family members and paid caregivers. Elder abuse can fall under a few different categories (physical, financial, emotional, and neglect). The first that comes to most peoples’ minds is physical abuse. However, not all elder abuse leaves a visible mark. While hitting, pinching, pushing, grabbing, or physically forcing an older person to do something against their will is incredibly sad and shameful, psychological and emotional abuse can be just as traumatizing for an elderly person who cannot defend themselves. Psychological and emotional abuse consists of the following:
- Verbal assaults;
- Use of foul language;
- Belittling or treating the older person like a child or as if they are unintelligent;
- Putting the older person in isolation;
- Not allowing the older person to visit with friends, family, or participate in regular activities; and
- Ignoring the older person or purposefully not talking to them.
While most abuse and neglect is inflicted by close family members of the older person, such as adult children or grandchildren, abuse is also very common in nursing homes and assisted living homes, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. All nursing and assisted living homes are under strict obligation to never force an older person to do something they do not wish to do (such as forcing them into isolation). As such, this law is required to be posted where the residents, family members, and staff can all see it, and the owner of the home is also required to educate all of their staff members about the law. This, unfortunately, does not stop thousands of employees abusing older people in various ways.
According to Allina Health, the following increase an older person’s chances of being abused psychologically or emotionally:
- The elderly person is greater than 75 years old;
- They have a learning or memory disability;
- They have a long-term health condition condition such as dementia, paralysis, diabetes, or stroke;
- They do not have any relatives or friends (or few) that are able to take care of them or visit on a regular basis;
- They have difficulty socializing with other people;
- The caregiver relies on the older person for financial reasons;
- The caregiver is addicted to alcohol, drugs, or gambling;
- The caregiver has depression or another mental illness;
- The caregiver has a history of violence or family violence/sexual abuse; and
- The caregiver has stress with which they are unable to properly cope, such as work, caring for the older person, or financial problems.
Signs and Symptoms of Elder Emotional and Psychological Abuse
Watch out for the following signs and symptoms of emotional elder abuse so that you can put a stop to them as soon as possible. The older person may not believe they are strong enough or mentally capable of bringing the issue to the attention of proper authorities, or they may fear retaliation. At first they may even deny any wrongdoing on the part of their caregiver. The older person may exhibit the following:
- Seem upset, emotional, or on edge;
- Be withdrawn, non responsive, and non communicative, and extremely withdrawn;
- Show fear around certain caregivers or suddenly become silent around them or in public places within a nursing or assisted living home;
- Show behavioral signs attributed to dementia such as sucking, biting, and rocking; and
- They may actually report or comment on the fact that they have been mistreated.
If recognize any of the signs or hear that a loved one of yours is being mistreated, contact the law offices of Berman & Riedel, LLP a call at 858-350-8855 to speak with one of our experienced San Diego elder abuse attorneys today.