The news abounds with stories of nursing home abuse and neglect, featuring malnourished, dehydrated and beaten elderly individuals. What people often fail to realize is that abuse can take more insidious, harder-to-spot forms.
Threats, name-calling, humiliation, isolation, intimidation, loud berating, scapegoating and other forms of non-physical mistreatment can cause as much damage as hitting. Emotional and psychological abuse in nursing homes is harder to detect than bruises or sores and can have serious consequences.
Mental and emotional effects
The impact of emotional and psychological abuse can be long-lasting. Targeted individuals may experience anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and feelings of helplessness. Such abuse erodes their sense of trust, making it difficult to form healthy relationships and often leading to social withdrawal.
Ongoing emotional abuse can contribute to cognitive decline in older adults. The stress and trauma from the abuse may accelerate the aging process. It can result in memory loss, confusion and difficulty in decision-making.
Physical health complications
Emotional and psychological abuse does not just affect mental health; its symptoms can also manifest physically. Individuals may suffer from insomnia, loss of appetite, high blood pressure and weakened immune systems. Over time, these health complications can lead to more severe medical conditions, further diminishing the overall quality of life.
Loss of independence and autonomy
The trauma of emotional and psychological mistreatment can lead to residents developing a lack of confidence in their abilities, making them hesitant to engage in activities they once enjoyed. They may experience difficulty reaching out to others. This extends to speaking out. Feelings of fear, shame and embarrassment exacerbate this, preventing targeted individuals from obtaining aid.
According to the U.S. Office of Health and Human Services, in July of 2022, there were an estimated 1.2 million nursing home residents in the nation. Out of these, there are individuals suffering emotional and psychological, as well as physical, abuse. By recognizing the potential symptoms associated with non-physical mistreatment and investigating the causes behind them, people can help rescue their loved ones from damaging environments.