Emotional abuse is insidious because it does not leave outward physical damage, and it is especially deplorable when inflicted by Virginia nursing home staff upon residents. Elderly adults are typically intelligent enough to recognize mistreatment, yet they often internalize emotional exploitation and may not be able to articulate the source of their misery. 

Families who entrust their relative’s care to an assisted living facility must remain vigilant for signs of abuse so they can act quickly to stop it. 

What are the signs of emotional abuse? 

Psychology Today describes emotional abuse as the exertion of power and control by humiliation, criticism and fear. Emotional abusers are often adept at attacking their victim’s flaws and weaknesses. Furthermore, perpetrators frequently manipulate their targets into believing that their feelings of depression and unworthiness result from their own shortcomings. Nursing home residents often arrive with diminished mental capacity or feelings of helplessness because they are no longer able to care for themselves, and this can make them prime targets for emotional abuse. 

What actions can prevent emotional abuse? 

Elderly adults under the care of others are often more vulnerable and may rely on their families and friends to help them when they do not realize that they need it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are a few steps that relatives can take to help curb emotional abuse: 

  • Learn about how abuse can occur and how to recognize it 
  • Maintain regular check-ins with elderly adults 
  • Pay attention to any behavioral changes that may fall outside normal aging 
  • Observe residents’ attitudes and interactions with nursing home staff 
  • Listen to elderly relatives and look for abnormal signs of psychological distress 

An unfriendly nursing home caregiver is not necessarily an abuser; however, a pattern of meanness or hostility might be an outward sign of deeper problems. Anyone who suspects that an elderly family member or friend is suffering emotional abuse should inform Adult Protective Services.