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Filing a Claim for Nursing Home Abuse and Psychological Harm

Nursing home abuse in New York can take many different forms, and some types of elder abuse can be more difficult to identify than others. While the signs of physical abuse may be obvious — such as unexplained cuts, bruises, restraint marks, or burn marks — psychological or emotional abuse may not have any obvious physical signs or symptoms. Rather, psychological or emotional abuse can impact a nursing home resident’s emotional well-being, which ultimately can take a physical toll. It is critical to know that even though psychological or emotional abuse might not have the kinds of obvious signs associated with physical abuse or neglect, it is just as serious, and the nursing home may be liable. What should you know about filing a claim for emotional elder abuse? Consider the following information from our New York nursing home negligence lawyers.

High Rates of Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Psychological or emotional elder abuse, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), refers to any kind of abuse that includes “verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, or intimidation.” Psychological or emotional abuse can also include behavior designed to embarrass or humiliate a nursing home resident. These types of abuse occur with more frequency than you might think. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as many as one in six adults aged 60 and older experience some form of abuse that can include emotional abuse, and as many as two out of three staff members at nursing homes admit to committing abuse in the last year alone. Seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can be at particular risk for emotional or psychological abuse.

Moreover, signs and symptoms of psychological or emotional abuse can be harder to identify than other types of abuse. Common signs of psychological or emotional abuse in a nursing home setting may include one or more of the following:

  • Increased anxiety;

  • Depression, or worsening depression;

  • Difficulty making decisions;

  • Fear;

  • Withdrawal;

  • Agitation and frustration;

  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness;

  • Loss of interest in typical activities;

  • Personality changes; and

  • Behavioral changes.

These signs can also have physical effects. With increased depression and anxiety, and feelings of fear and hopelessness, a senior’s physical health can suffer. Seniors who are the victims of psychological abuse can have weakened immune systems due to insomnia and can suffer from malnutrition and harmful weight loss. Lack of interest in ordinary activities can also result in the senior engaging in less physical activity altogether and, as a result, an overall decrease in physical health.

Know That You May Be Able to File a Claim for Psychological Abuse

Just because psychological or emotional abuse does not result in the same kinds of direct and obvious symptoms as physical abuse or passive neglect does not mean that you cannot hold the facility accountable. In fact, it is essential to take steps as soon as possible to report concerns about psychological abuse and to consider moving forward with a claim.

The staff member who has perpetrated psychological or emotional abuse may be liable, and more importantly, the facility that employs that staff member can also be liable.

Contact a New York Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

If you need to learn more about filing a nursing home abuse claim for psychological abuse, you should get in touch with an experienced New York nursing home abuse attorney at our firm. Contact Leitner Varughese, PLLC, today.


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