When someone close to you lives in a nursing home, it’s probably part of your visiting ritual to ask them how they are doing. If they were to say they feel fine, then you’d probably believe it. But if they give you any reason to believe that they aren’t safe or feeling down, you should ask further questions.

Elder abuse is an unfortunate reality that many people go through in nursing homes across Georgia. Since abuse isn’t always physical and evident through external injuries, it’s crucial to pay attention to your family member or friend’s emotional well-being when you visit or speak with them.

What does emotional abuse look like?

Before you make assumptions, even if they are well-intentioned, it’s crucial to understand how emotional abuse happens in a nursing home. Basically, it can happen both verbally and non-verbally:

  • Verbal abuse: Examples of verbal abuse include yelling at, blaming, belittling and guilting someone. So, a staff member might talk to a resident like they are a young child who doesn’t understand them or they might yell at them in front of fellow residents.
  • Nonverbal abuse: Sometimes abusers don’t have to say anything at all to severely affect someone’s mental state. A common form of nonverbal elder abuse is neglect. This means staff members might avoid interacting with a resident, not offer help to a resident that requests it or even prevent a resident from socializing with others.

Emotional abuse scars may not be visible, but they can cause psychological effects. This includes anxiety, depression, loss of hope and loss of interest in daily life or activities that once brought them joy.

What should I do if I suspect abuse?

When an elderly loved one is acting withdrawn, it can be helpful to have an honest conversation with them. You can ease into the discussion by asking general questions about their safety and if they are experiencing any isolation at their nursing home. Tell them that elder abuse can happen to anyone and you are there to listen and help them report it.

If someone close to you reveals they are experiencing abuse, then consulting an experienced personal injury attorney can help them find out how they can seek damages.