COVID-19 UPDATE: We are open! Our team is working and offering consultations via phone, e-mail, and video conferencing.

Sad senior man peers through the blinds over the window in the nursing home

The Prevalence of Psychological Abuse in Nursing Homes

How Common is Nursing Home Abuse?

According to The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), around 1 in 3 residents in nursing homes experience some form of abuse, neglect, or exploitation — an alarming statistic. This includes psychological abuse, which is highly damaging to elderly residents.

Psychological abuse is often hard to detect, as it doesn't leave any physical marks. Sadly, psychological abuse is not uncommon in nursing homes and is just as damaging as physical abuse. Here's what you need to know.

Warning Signs of Psychological Abuse in Nursing Home Residents

Psychological abuse can take many forms, including verbal assaults, humiliation, intimidation, and isolation. It can cause significant emotional damage and lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. One of the most troubling issues in nursing homes is psychological abuse. This type of abuse can be challenging to identify, as it often occurs behind closed doors. However, some warning signs may indicate psychological abuse of a resident.

Some common warning signs are that the resident:

  • Seems agitated, depressed, or withdrawn
  • Displays sudden changes in mood or behavior
  • Has unexplained bruises or injuries
  • Reluctant to talk about staff or other residents
  • Experiences sudden changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Expresses concerns about staff or other residents
  • Appears anxious, scared, paranoid, or withdrawn
  • Has unexplained bruises or injuries
  • Exhibits changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Suddenly becomes mute or unresponsive
  • Has sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Has frequent arguments with their caregiver
  • Makes statements like, " I'm so alone" or "nobody loves me"
  • Seems withdrawn from social activities

To make matters more damaging, psychological abuse typically occurs alongside physical abuse. Physical abuse can include hitting, slapping, shoving, or any other physical contact that causes pain or injury. Often, physical and psychological abuse go hand in hand, which can be just as damaging. Warning signs of physical abuse in nursing home residents may include:

  • Bruises, welts, or cuts on the skin
  • Bone fractures
  • Swollen areas on the body
  • Scars or burns
  • Ragged clothing or bedding
  • Inappropriate clothing for the weather (e.g., heavy clothing in summer)

Keeping Elderly Loved Ones Safe From Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse isn't entirely preventable. However, there are some things you can do to mitigate the risks. It takes a concerted effort from everyone involved. Nursing home staff, residents, and their families all need to be aware of the warning signs of abuse and be willing to speak up if they suspect something is wrong.

Nursing home staff should receive training on adequately caring for seniors, identifying potential abuse, and reporting abuse allegations. Residents and their families should also be familiar with the signs of abuse and know who to contact if they suspect something is happening.

We can help keep our loved ones safe and prevent abuse in nursing homes by working together. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your elderly loved one's safety:

  • Visit often and stay alert to any signs of abuse
  • Talk to the staff at the nursing home about your concerns
  • Familiarize yourself with the policies and procedures of the nursing home
  • Report any abuse that you see or suspect
  • Receive training on how to recognize and prevent abuse

Why Does Nursing Home Abuse Happen?

There are many reasons why nursing home abuse may occur. Some of the most common include:

  • A lack of staff or resources to provide adequate care
  • Understaffing and overworked staff who are unable to meet the needs of all residents
  • Pressure from administrators to cut costs, even if it means compromising resident safety
  • Lack of training for staff on how to identify and report abuse
  • Prevalence of staff who are hostile or insensitive to the needs of elderly residents

Here are some concerning facts about nursing home abuse you should know:

The National Center on Elder Abuse reports the following statistics on the prevalence of nursing home abuse:

  • Up to 1 in 3 nursing home residents may experience abuse or neglect each year
  • Approximately 90% of abused nursing home residents do not have family members who visit them regularly
  • Only 26% of incidents of abuse and neglect are ever reported to authorities

These statistics underscore the importance of family visitation in preventing and detecting elder abuse and the need for better reporting mechanisms so that abusive situations can be addressed promptly.

Related Article: Nursing Home Abuse Statistics [Infographic]

Steps to Get Your Elderly Loved One Help

If you have a loved one who is residing in a nursing home and you suspect that they are being abused or neglected, there are some steps you can take to get help:

  • Talk to the nursing home staff. Let them know what your concerns are and ask them to investigate
  • Contact your local Adult Protective Services agency. They will likely send someone to visit the nursing home and investigate the allegations
  • File a complaint with the state licensing agency responsible for nursing homes
  • Contact a lawyer who specializes in nursing home abuse law to discuss your legal options

Contact Our Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys For More Information

The issue of psychological and physical abuse in nursing homes is a serious one, and it's essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms. If you believe that your loved one is being subjected to nursing home abuse, don't hesitate to contact us. Bandas Law Firm, P.C. can help you get the justice and closure your family deserves. Managing Partner Christopher Bandas is a highly regarded member of the legal community and rated "Distinguished" by his peers in the Martindale-Hubbell® publication. No case is too big or too small, and our team is prepared to protect your rights.

For all your personal injury matters, “Better Get Bandas!” Call (361) 238-2789 or fill out this short form to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team. We are available for calls 24/7.