Boca Raton Elder Abuse Lawyer

Nursing Homes Need to Take Psychological Abuse Seriously

Boca Raton Elder Abuse Lawyer
There have been a lot of stories over the past several years about how much abuse goes on in nursing homes around the country, and most people are well aware of the fact that many of our seniors are getting mistreated.


But that doesn’t mean you really understand how bad things are. The National Center for Elder Abuse has compiled studies showing that anywhere from 7.6 to 10 percent of all seniors have suffered from abuse. Worse, various studies estimate that only one incident of abuse is reported for every 14 to 24 that occur. And in a study conducted from 1999 to 2001, but only recently reported to the public, researchers found that instances of abuse occur at nearly one-third of all nursing homes in the United States.


If you have an older relative in an assisted living facility or nursing home, this report was probably particularly disturbing, and you may be watching out for signs of physical abuse when you visit. Some of the most common things to look for are bruises, broken bones, clothes that are torn or bloody, marks that seem to be from restraints, and signs of neglect, such as malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, and a sudden loss of weight. Even excessive injuries from falls, which can be serious or very minor, can be a sign that someone is abusing your loved one.


But while it’s vital that you pay attention to these signs of physical abuse and neglect and report them as soon as you notice them, don’t forget it’s just as important to watch out for signs that your loved one is being psychologically abused.


How Are Seniors Psychologically Abused in Nursing Homes?


There are a number of different ways that seniors can suffer psychological abuse in senior living facilities. Some of them may not even be intentional by the people who are supposed to be taking care of them, but they can still cause lasting harm to your loved one, and caregivers who engage in this kind of behavior – regardless of whether they intended to harm their residents or not – are not living up to the legal obligations of their station.


How Are Seniors Psychologically Abused in Nursing Homes?

Verbal abuse. Some caregivers have been known to speak to the elderly people in their care in a manner that is violent, intimidating, threatening, humiliating, dismissive, offensive, or simply hurtful and can leave the resident anxious or scared. Over time, these psychological symptoms can even cause physical problems to manifest when the abuse is serious enough.


Isolation and neglect. While there can be physical signs of neglect for seniors, emotional neglect can cause big problems, too. This happens when caregivers intentionally or unintentionally leave specific residents out and provide them with a lower level of care than other residents. Even if their physical needs are technically being met, this kind of behavior can leave a senior feeling like they don’t matter and cause them to stop taking care of themselves and sink into a depressive state. This form of psychological abuse is difficult to identify and prove unless there are accompanying physical problems, but it does exist.


Signs of Emotional Abuse in Seniors


If you want to know if your loved one is being psychologically abused, the best thing to do is check in on them more frequently so you can see how they are treated and how they interact with everyone around them at the facility. Often, abused seniors don’t report abuse because they are afraid of retaliation or – worse – that they won’t be believed. Some may even feel the treatment is “deserved” or somehow their fault.


Some common signs of psychological abuse in elderly nursing home residents include:


  • Visible depression that coincides with their time at the nursing home
  • Visible anger that coincides with their time at the nursing home
  • Frequently blaming themselves for problems that are insignificant and/or for which they bear no responsibility
  • Displaying a high level of anxiety or fear whenever they are around certain people
  • “False dementia” – rocking, sucking, and mumbling


Unfortunately, none of these signs are actual proof that any abuse is going on, and can easily be signs of something else entirely. If you notice any of these signs, the first thing you should do is to ask your loved one if anyone is bothering or hurting them. You can also try to talk to other residents who are coherent and staff members that you like and trust.


If it seems like abuse truly is occurring, the first thing you should try to do is move them out of that facility as soon as possible, then talk to the authorities and file a complaint with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. After you’ve removed your relative from the negative situation and brought the problem to the attention of the appropriate people, contact an experienced elder abuse attorney immediately.


Boca Raton Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

There are a wide variety of claims that you can bring against abusive caregivers and nursing homes, including allegations of physical, verbal, sexual, and financial abuse, as well as neglect. There are different things that need to be proven in each type of case, so it’s in your best interest to work with a knowledgeable professional who can guide you through the legal process and make sure that you and your loved one are compensated for what you had to endure, and that the heinous acts that occurred won’t happen to someone else.


Most Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse in West Palm Beach

Most Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse


Most Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse in West Palm Beach

As America’s population ages, more and more elderly people are moving into these nursing homes. These facilities are supposed to provide residents with the medical care, daily assistance, and social environment that they need to live comfortably, but unfortunately, far too many residents experience neglect and abuse in these settings.


Research conducted in 2000 by the National Center on Elder Abuse revealed that almost half (44%) of more than 2,000 nursing home residents had suffered some form of abuse, and an astounding 95% had either been neglected or seen someone being neglected in their nursing home. Fourteen years later, frequent news stories about elder abuse reveal that this issue has not been resolved.


If you live in a nursing home or have a loved one who lives in one of these facilities and you have experienced or witnessed any kind of abuse, the best way to put a stop to it is to come forward and hold the caregiver who is engaging in this kind of inappropriate behavior accountable. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you take legal action against an abusive party and even recover compensation for any injuries or financial harm. If you are unsure whether you should come forward because you don’t know whether a caregiver’s behavior constitutes abuse, review the most common types of nursing home abuse below.




Neglect is the most common form of nursing home abuse and is present in more than half of all reported cases. Neglect can be either intentional or unintentional on the part of the caregiver and may involve things like failing to provide basic life necessities (food, water, medicine, etc.), failing to keep a resident’s living space clean and safe, or failure to address and treat health problems.


Physical or Sexual Abuse


Physical abuse involves non-accidental, physical force used against a resident, including hitting, kicking, pushing, shaking, slapping, pinching, and burning. Force-feeding, inappropriately using physical restraints, or using any kind of physical punishment also fall into the category of physical nursing home abuse.


Sexual abuse involves any kind of non-consensual sexual act with a nursing home resident. This could involve rape, but non-physical sexual acts can also be a form of sexual abuse. These include forcing a nursing home resident to look at pornography, watch sex acts, or undress while others watch.


Psychological Abuse


Boca Raton Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Psychological abuse is not always as visible as physical abuse and neglect, but it can still be incredibly harmful to a resident’s health and mental wellbeing. Psychological abuse and manipulation may include humiliating a resident in front of other residents or caretakers, engaging in verbal insults or threats, verbal harassment, or forcing a resident into social isolation.


Financial Exploitation


Sadly, unscrupulous caregivers may take advantage of a resident’s perceived vulnerability in order to misuse their money. Acts of financial exploitation in a nursing home might include identity theft, forging a resident’s signature, stealing a resident’s income checks or other sources of money, or misusing a resident’s checks or banking accounts.


All these examples of abuse aren’t just immoral, they are illegal. If a caretaker is found to be engaging in this behavior, they may face criminal charges. However, residents and their families can also file a civil lawsuit against neglectful or abusive caretakers in order to recover money for medical bills, pain and suffering, and/or misused finances. Working with a personal injury attorney who has handled nursing home abuse cases before will give you your best chance of recovering compensation.


About the Author:

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars..