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Is Your Loved One at Risk for Psychological Abuse in a Nursing Home?

Published on Mar 7, 2018 at 4:01 pm in Nursing Home Abuse.

When your parents get older, sometimes you’re faced with a difficult decision of placing them in long term care. Choosing the right nursing home for your loved one can be stressful, but it’s comforting to know that they’re going to get the care and support they need to live a dignified and fulfilling life. But sometimes, the nursing home doesn’t provide this care and take advantage of its residents.

Nursing home residents can be subject to different kinds of abuse: Physical, financial, social, and psychological. Psychological abuse takes a large emotional toll on seniors and may go unseen if you don’t know what you’re looking for. If you suspect your loved one is being psychologically abused, a West Virginia nursing home abuse lawyer from DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC can help. We’ll stand up for your loved one’s rights.

What Does Psychological Abuse Entail?

Psychological abuse creates an unfair and hostile power dynamic between the caregiver and the resident. The person who is doing the psychological abuse gains this power through a few methods:

  • Threats and Insults. Caregivers can threaten residents and talk down to them in derogatory fashions that make the resident scared to speak out against the caregiver. Abuse can also be yelling and swearing at the resident.
  • Manipulation and Fear. Caregivers can control who the resident sees and use this as a manipulation tool. The resident doesn’t want to anger or set off the caregiver, so they constantly live in fear of the caregiver.

Seniors may be reluctant to speak up about this because they’re frightened of the fallout. If no one believes them or the caregiver finds out, they could face more abuse because they spoke out.

How to Tell if Your Loved One Is at Risk

This scenario is horrifying and you may be worrying about your loved one’s safety. Seniors who are abused and caregivers who are abusers have some typical characteristics that makes this more likely to occur.


  • Age. Older residents may not be able to stand up for themselves compared to younger residents.
  • Health. Conditions that make residents dependent on caregivers like dementia or stroke increases the chance of being subject to abuse.
  • Isolation. Residents who don’t have a lot of family visiting them have less people keeping watch over their health and paying attention to how they’re treated.


  • Takes Drugs/Consumes Alcohol. Caregivers with addiction issues could make them more likely to abuse a resident.
  • History of Family Violence. Caregivers who grew up with violence and have violent tendencies could act out on residents.
  • Stress. Many caregivers are overworked and underpaid, and could take out their frustration on residents.

Signs of Psychological Abuse

How do you detect psychological abuse? Pay close attention to your loved one when you visit them and try to go during times that aren’t main visitation times. The main signs you should look for indicate changes in your loved one.

  • Change in Demeanor. If your loved one seems scared, withdrawn, or has developed low self-esteem, you may have an abuse issue. Your visits may have had fun conversations in the past, but now you notice that your loved one has become despondent and unenthused. If they show newfound insecurities or seem uncharacteristically unsure of themselves, someone could be making them feel this way.
  • Change in Eating and Sleeping Patterns. Many factors can affect a senior’s eating and sleeping patterns, but if you notice a new trend that’s not healthy for your loved one, something else may be going on.
  • Paranoia. Your loved one may seem jumpy and frightened.

No one should have to experience psychological abuse. Knowing the signs could help you catch abuse and put a stop to it and get your loved one back to living a high quality and engaging life.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice. Viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Prior case results do not guarantee a similar outcome.
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