This is a guest post contributed by writer Alan Brady.
As children, we all learned the chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” But bullying does hurt and can have an adverse impact on a persona’s mental health and psyche. Bullies should outgrow the behavior once they leave school, but the sad fact is that some senior citizens are verbally abused and emotionally abused by their caretakers. Most caregivers dedicate their hearts and souls to caring for their recipients, so it’s unfathomable to think that a caregiver could be so cruel. But it does happen, so it’s important to be aware of the signs of abuse and what to do if you suspect it’s happening.
You have every right to be concerned about your loved one’s care and treatment, whether the person is living in a nursing home, assisted-living facility, residential care facility or even their own home. Any type of elder abuse or nursing home abuse—even verbal abuse—is unacceptable and is, in some instances, a crime. Abusers should be reported to the police and victims should hire a nursing home abuse attorney to take legal action against the abuser.
Here are some of the most common signs of emotional or verbal abuse:
- The abuser tries to intimidate the victim, sometimes through threats or yelling.
- The victim doesn’t want to be left alone with the abuser.
- The victim is subjected to teasing or ridicule.
- The victim is frequently blamed for things.
- The abuser tries to isolate the victim from other people.
- The abuser gives the victim the silent treatment.
- The abuser attempts to make the victim feel mental pain, distress and/or anguish.
- Loved ones observe tension or frequent fights between the abuser and victim.
- The abuser treats the victim like an infant.
- The victim experiences an unexpected decline in mental health and may exhibit dementia-like symptoms.
It’s important to remember that emotional abuse and verbal abuse can escalate into other types of elder abuse. If a caretaker feels as if he or she is entitled to verbally abuse an elderly person, it may be just a matter of time before the caretaker decides to financially exploit the individual, or before physical abuse occurs.
You should take several immediate steps if you think someone is the victim of abuse, whether it’s in an assisted-living facility or in the victim’s home:
- Attempt to separate the victim from the suspected abuser.
- Contact local police.
- If the abuse is occurring in a nursing home, report your concerns to the supervisor, if appropriate, and to your state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
- Hire a nursing home abuse attorney or personal injury attorney. You should be sure to research the lawyers available in your area to ensure that your loved one received the best possible representation.
Image by Mattox via Stock.xchng