John J. Hopkins & Associates

Do not overlook emotional abuse in nursing homes

You may already be aware of the risk of physical abuse nursing home residents face. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the elderly to be subjected to neglect and blatant physical harm. This is not the only form of abuse that can take place in a nursing home, though—emotional harm is arguably just as common and potentially just as detrimental. There are a few things you should know about the phenomenon.

ABC News cites verbal abuse as one of the common forms of mistreatment nursing home patients endure, and indeed, it is a serious problem. The following are a few indicators that might become apparent if your loved one is being emotionally abused:

Irritability or mood swings

Irritability and mood swings are often some of the first symptoms to indicate a nursing home resident is being abused—and this is true of both emotional and physical abuse. If your loved one seems to be upset or easily irritated, you should not dismiss these behavioral changes. Instead, ask what the matter is and attempt to determine whether abuse may be to blame.

Changes in behavior

Other changes in behavior may indicate the occurrence of verbal or emotional abuse, too. If there seems to be a general shift towards a more sullen mood or social withdrawal, you should initiate a conversation with your loved one. Similarly, if seem uncharacteristically hyperactive, it may be cause for concern as well.

Questionable caregiver behavior

It is a sad truth that the professionals tasked with caring for nursing home residents are the ones who often perpetuate abuse. If you witness a caregiver acting suspiciously, ignoring a patient, exhibiting hostility or otherwise acting questionably, it is worth further investigation. Your loved one deserves to receive competent and compassionate care, and any form of emotional or physical abuse may be grounds for pursuing legal action.

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ALTON —Like any successful trial lawyer, John Hopkins knows the importance of preparation. But he usually doesn’t write out the questions he plans to ask witnesses in depositions or in court.

“I like to react to what the witness is saying—not only what they’re saying, but how they’re saying it,” Hopkins says.

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