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Recognizing and Addressing Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes

January 19, 2024
Author: Martin J. Solomon

Emotional and psychological abuse in nursing homes is a prevalent and challenging issue, often overshadowed by more tangible forms of mistreatment. Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse leaves no visible marks, making it harder to track and report.

While the exact prevalence of emotional abuse remains unclear, available information indicates a widespread problem. Abuse affects a significant number of individuals, with estimates suggesting that around 1 in 6 people 60 years and above experience some form of abuse living in care facilities such as nursing homes.

Identifying Emotional Abuse:

Recognizing emotional abuse is crucial for creating a safe environment for elderly individuals. Emotional abuse manifests in various ways, leading to emotional pain and suffering. Both verbal and nonverbal forms of emotional abuse can cause severe distress. Emotional abuse can cause anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, loneliness, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and can even decrease one’s physical health.

Verbal Abuse:

Verbal abuse can involve yelling, shouting, emotional manipulation, belittling, or bullying which can be distressing for elderly individuals. Examples of verbal abuse include threats, intimidation, name-calling, and speaking to the patient as if they were a child.

Nonverbal Abuse:

Nonverbal abuse is subtler but equally damaging. Forms of nonverbal emotional abuse can include silent treatment, isolation, and restricting access to basic necessities. While harder to spot, the repetitive nature of nonverbal abuse can lead to serious psychological and emotional damage.

Preventing Emotional Abuse:

Preventing emotional abuse requires vigilance from family members and friends. If a loved one is in a nursing home, it’s essential to be attentive to signs of emotional abuse and take prompt action if abuse is suspected. 

If emotional abuse is suspected, it is crucial to take immediate action. Removing the elderly person from the facility and relocating them to a safer environment is a priority. Recognizing and addressing emotional abuse in nursing homes is a vital step toward creating a safer environment for elderly residents. By understanding the signs and taking preventive measures, we can contribute to the well-being of our loved ones in care facilities. 

Taking Action Against Emotional Abuse:

If you suspect emotional abuse and would like a free case review, don’t hesitate to take action. At Nursing Home Advocates, we are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of elderly individuals. Call us today to discuss your concerns, and let us provide the support and guidance needed to address potential abuse. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those who may be silently suffering.
“Abuse of Older People.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 13 June 2022,

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