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How Silence Can Lead to Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes

Published on May 30, 2019 at 10:32 am in Nursing Home Abuse.

Younger person's hand holding senior citizen's hand with watch

Transitioning your loved one into a nursing home can be emotionally difficult for everyone involved. There’s no doubt that you’ll want to ensure they receive the best care possible. This includes frequent and positive social interactions. It’s crucial for long-term care facilities to train their staff to have positive interactions with residents. Social gathering and events should be regularly scheduled, and family visits should be encouraged.

When, however, nursing home staff are intentionally or unintentionally negligent, residents can suffer. When nurses do not engage with residents or purposely ignore them, a bleak or even hostile environment is created. As a family member of a nursing home resident, it’s important to understand how silence can lead to emotional abuse and what you can do to encourage a high quality of life for your loved one.

Understaffing and Unintentional Silence

In some instances, silence in a nursing home is unintentional. This happens where there are not enough employees to take care of the residents. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the majority of U.S. nursing are understaffed. There are a number of reasons for this. First off, negligent nursing homes often try to hire as few employees as possible in order to increase their profits. This leads to employees working long hours. In some cases, the stress can lead to a staff member leaving their job. Overall, the nursing home industry has a fairly high turnover rate.

The inadequate level of nursing staff has a number of consequences. When there aren’t enough nursing staff to take care of the residents, some residents may go unattended for a significant amount of time. While this neglect is considered unintentional, there is no excuse for it. When any resident is left alone for a significant amount of time, serious harm can result. Malnutrition, dehydration, bed sores, and falls are a possibility. In some cases, residents may feel as though they can’t speak up to ask for help or that their requests will be futile.

Intentional Social and Emotional Neglect in Long-Term Care Facilities

There are times where the silence in a nursing home is intentional. Negligent employees may choose to socially isolate residents from nursing home events and celebrations. This is often done as a form of punishment. The effects can be detrimental. Depression, anxiety, fear, and general discomfort is likely to increase.

It’s important for nursing home residents to socialize with each other and participate in activities. This can reduce bouts of depression and can help individuals with cognitive and memory issues. It’s also important for individuals in long-term care facilities to feel like they’re part of a community. When this doesn’t happen, they may become withdrawn and uninterested in activities they used to enjoy.

In addition to socially isolating residents from activities, negligent staff members may also try to isolate them from their families. This may be done in an attempt to prevent abuse from being reported. A nurse could discourage visits or tell a resident lies about their family in an attempt to reduce the number of visits.

How to Reduce the Chances of Emotional Abuse

If you’re concerned about your loved one’s emotional state in a nursing home, it’s crucial to remain in contact with them as regularly as possible. Silence, as we’ve discussed, can be dangerous. Whether you call your loved one daily or visit them on a weekly basis, this is often the best way to reduce the chances of abuse. When negligent staff members realize that a resident has a strong support system backing them, they may be concerned about someone finding out about their negligent behavior and losing their job. As a result, they may work to ensure the resident is taken care of and not isolated in any way.

Additionally, you can examine the facilities and speak with the other residents. If you notice others seem withdrawn or are unwilling to speak with you about their experiences, these could be red flags. Talk as openly and honestly as possible with your loved one. If you have any suspicions that some form of silence is contributing to emotional abuse, you can discuss your concerns with the facility. If they are not addressed, you have the right to file a report with the state and take legal action.

It’s crucial for all nursing home residents to receive the care they need to maintain a high-quality life. Positive social interactions play a large role in contributing to that. When a nursing home resident experiences silence, they may suffer emotionally. If you believe your loved one’s facility is treating them poorly, you can take action on their behalf by contacting our lawyers to learn about the rights of nursing home residents in West Virginia.

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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