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Emotional abuse in elders: what it is and how to spot it

Elder abuse - we may not often think about abuse occurring to elderly individuals in nursing homes, but it does happen. Nursing home staff, care aides, other residents or even family members can all be culprits.

It may surprise you that only one in 14 incidents of elder abuse are reported, whether it is intentional or unintentional, which is why it is so important to know how to spot it. It can be physical, which is easier to spot as it often comes in the form of nasty bruises or broken bones, or emotional.

What is emotional abuse in elders?

Emotional or psychological abuse occurs when an abuser attempts to make the elder feel small, neglected or low in self-worth. This type of abuse can be both verbal and nonverbal, which may make it easier to accomplish for the attacker. Some common forms of emotional abuse include:

  • Manipulation
  • Ignoring
  • Humiliation or ridiculing
  • Intimidation
  • Yelling at or threatening
  • Blaming

How do you spot this type of abuse?

Emotional abuse can be harder to spot because of its subtlety; however, there are still some recurring signs seen in elders that have experienced or are currently experiencing emotional abuse. They include:

  • Withdrawal
  • Weight loss
  • Low self-esteem
  • Change in eating or sleeping

Emotional abuse can be hard on elderly individuals in nursing homes. There may be little or no escape from the harassment, which can seem like an impossible situation when you have nowhere else to turn. Looking for the signs of emotional or psychological abuse in your elderly loved ones is important.

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