Nursing Home Abuse: Types, Signs, and Tips for Prevention (Part 2 of 3)
In part one of this series, we talked about the signs of physical nursing home abuse and gave you some tips for prevention. Part two focuses on psychological abuse, which is any behavior that causes a nursing home resident to experience anguish or emotional harm.
Psychological Abuse Takes Two Forms
Psychological abuse is either verbal or nonverbal in nature. Verbal abuse involves threatening a resident or making statements that cause fear and sadness. Screaming and shouting, insulting a resident, and saying things that cause a resident distress are all examples of verbal abuse.
Nonverbal abuse is just as damaging, but it is more difficult to detect because the abuser doesn’t shout or say mean things. Refusing to speak to a resident, ignoring a resident’s needs, purposely isolating residents from their friends and family members, and making threatening gestures are examples of nonverbal abuse.
Signs of Psychological Abuse Are Difficult to Spot
Because psychological abuse doesn’t leave cuts or bruises, it is often more difficult to detect than physical abuse. When you visit your loved one, watch carefully for the following:
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Sudden personality changes
- Unusual behavior
- Excessive fear
- Nervousness, especially around certain staff members
- Refusal to interact with other people
Take Steps to Prevent Psychological Abuse
You can’t spend all of your time at the nursing home, but you can take steps to prevent psychological abuse. One of the best ways to do so is by visiting your loved one as often as possible. Abusers are less likely to target residents who receive visitors regularly, according to a report from the National Center on Elder Abuse. On days you can’t make it to the nursing home, call and check in with the administrator or charge nurse.
Report Suspected Abuse Immediately
If you suspect that someone is abusing your loved one, report the abusive behavior immediately. The nursing home administrator should launch an investigation and take prompt action against abusive staff members. If the administrator dismisses your concerns, move your loved one to another facility and file a complaint with the appropriate agency.
The Georgia Department of Community Health investigates complaints against all facilities licensed by the Division of Healthcare Facility Regulation. Georgia also has an ombudsman program to investigate and resolve complaints of abuse, neglect, and unsafe living conditions in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Fulton County has a community ombudsman program headquartered in Atlanta. To file a complaint, contact an ombudsman via telephone or email.
Under federal law, it is a form of Medicaid fraud to criminally abuse or neglect a resident of a nursing home or personal care home that receives Medicaid funding. If the nursing home administrator does not investigate your complaint in a timely manner, you may want to file a Medicaid fraud complaint with the Georgia Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
Hold Abusers Accountable for Their Actions
If your loved one is the victim of psychological abuse, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the nursing home. Because you have a limited amount of time to file a claim, it’s important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after discovering the abuse. The attorneys at Butler Law Firm are ready to help you get justice for your loved one. Call us at (404) JUSTICE to schedule a free consultation.