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Signs of Elder Neglect Or Abuse At A Nursing Home and What to Do

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Posted on September 9, 2021

When people get old, they often have to rely on others to take care of them. While some have family willing and able to help.  Others do not and they have to rely on facilities and non-family members to care for them and their needs.  According to research, over 15% of people aged 60 or older have experienced some form of elder abuse or neglect. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs of elder abuse or neglect and to know what to do next.

What Is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse occurs when an elderly person suffers harm from continuous insults, verbal harassment, and yelling. In other words, an elderly person is subjected to verbal humiliation and harassment which can cause depression, anxiety, and even PTSD.

How to Know If An Elderly Person Is Being Emotionally Abused?

Emotional abuse is real abuse but it ordinarily doesn’t leave physical marks. Yet, emotional abuse can cause just as much pain and harm as physical abuse.  Some elderly people that face emotional abuse have a very hard time even disclosing what they are going through because of conditions such as stroke or dementia.  They are not able to communicate the abuse they suffer so they continue to suffer abuse until someone else notices it, if it is ever noticed.  Luckily, there are a few telltale signs that can help you figure out if someone is being abused.

Isolation and Shyness

Victims of abuse tend to blame themselves and feel ashamed about their situation. As a result, they avoid speaking to their family members or friends, and could even isolate themselves. The same thing applies to our elderly, so be on the lookout for a sudden personality change. We see patients in nursing homes who get scolded and yelled at by staff who have to change the sheets when a patient wets or soils the bed and they take it out on the elderly patient by yelling at them and shaming them.

Self-Harm and Self-Neglect

We have found that elderly people that suffer from emotional abuse will usually have lower self-esteem.  This can lead to depression and the desire to give up hope.   They will want to go ahead and die rather than continue to live under the stress they face from the abuser.


At the end of the day, any victim fears their abuser, no matter who that person is. Next time you visit your elderly, try to notice their reaction when nursing staff or their personal caretaker is near. If they flinch, can’t maintain eye contact, or show suddenly change their tone or behavior, start doing some more digging and privately ask them what is going on when nobody is around.

What to Do Next?

If you suspect that your elderly are victims of emotional abuse, it’s important to contact the authorities. Also, depending on who is the abuser, you will need to fire them or report them to the administration council of the nursing home. However, before the authorities take any action, try not to alert the potential abuser about your investigation. Otherwise, you risk making them even angrier and more abusive toward your loved ones.

Emotional Abuse Lawsuits

If you suspect your elderly person is being abused or neglected, you can always count on Dan Chapman & Associates to help you investigate this matter.  If we can find abuse, we will hold the abuser and their employer accountable for their actions and any harms done.