Psychological and Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes

Elder abuse comes in many forms, with emotional and psychological abuse being the most common. Unfortunately, unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse can be difficult to identify because there aren’t always physical signs of elder emotional distress.


When nursing facility staff inflicts emotional abuse, it causes residents to feel extreme sadness, fear, and anxiety. Often psychological abuse is inflicted at the same time as other forms of abuse that cause a resident to feel helpless and depressed.

A few common forms of emotional abuse include:

  • Humiliation or ridicule of an elderly person
  • Habitual blaming, scapegoating, or demeaning behavior toward the elderly person
  • Intimidation of an elderly person, through threatening behavior or yelling
  • Isolating the elderly person
  • Terrorizing or menacing the elder
  • Ignoring the elder
  • Talking down to the elder
  • Threats of physical harm

It is estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are reported to authorities, even though incidences of mistreatment occur in most nursing home facilities. According to statistics, 1 in 10 elderly Americans, aged 60+, have experienced abuse, and as many as 5 million elders are abused each year. As a loved one, it is important for you know the signs of emotional abuse.

A few indicators of psychological and emotional abuse include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Refusal to interact or speak with others
  • Sudden change in personality or behavior
  • Agitation
  • Excessive fear or nervousness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of sleep
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Refusal to eat or take medications

If you believe emotional or psychological abuse is occurring, you should report the staff member who is causing them harm. You should then report the abuse to the authorities and hire an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer. At Hare Wynn, we have the extensive resources, knowledge, and skills to fight for the rights of your loved one. Let our team help you get the compensation you deserve.

Call 800-568-5330 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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