Signs of Emotional Elder Abuse

Bullying does not stop at the playground. Just as 12 year-olds torment, tease, and pick on the kids who are not as big or strong as them, the same thing happens to the elderly. Younger caregivers use their physical strength, positions of power, and mental sharpness to bully and belittle the elderly they are supposed to be caring for. This happens at home by relatives of the elderly person, and at nursing and assisted living homes by professional caretakers.


The forms of abuse and neglect vary from sexual assault, physical abuse such as punching or shoving, and emotional and psychological abuse like insults or purposefully treating the older person like an infant to make them feel small. Psychological damage can be as bad or even worse than physical abuse. With enough emotional harm, an older person may feel so ashamed and distraught that they stop eating or drinking, quit taking care of themselves, isolate themselves from others, and lose the will to carry on in life. Too many caretakers get away with abusing the elderly. They see them as easy, weak targets that can not fight back. If you have a loved one that you suspect is being abused emotionally, contact an experienced New York elder abuse attorney immediately to end the torment and seek legal justice.


Examples of Emotional and Psychological Elder Abuse

  • Threats
  • Verbal assaults
  • Harassment
  • Intimidation
  • Humiliation
  • Insults
  • Foul language
  • Purposefully treating the older person like a child or as if they are completely incompetent
  • Isolating the older person
  • Cutting the older person off from visits with friends or family; and
  • Ignoring the older person.


The most likely group of predators may not be who you think it is. While there is certainly a growing problem in nursing homes and professional homecare providers in the realm of elder abuse and neglect, most abuse and neglect is performed by close family members of the older person. These relatives may be grown children or grand children, spouses, or nephews and nieces. They are often disgruntled family members that believe (or know for certain) that they have been cut out of a will or given less than they deem to be fair. They may believe they deserve something for “their trouble” in caring for their older relative. What begins as a few snide remarks under the breath can quickly grow into devastating insults, threats, and serious psychological harm.


In nursing and assisted living homes staff members may grow callous, bitter, and convince themselves that the older people they are paid to help are somehow less than human. Many New York nursing homes provide excellent care. However, employees with mean streaks may slip through the hiring cracks and be able to keep the residents quiet about their insults, intimidation, and other emotional harm with threats of retaliation of they speak up.


Signs of Emotional Abuse


The following are signs that an older person may be experiencing emotional abuse, according to Alina Health:


  • The older person consistently seems upset or emotional without an explanation;
  • They may seem shy, depressed, or withdrawn;
  • They avoid making eye contact or talking openly in public;
  • They may have a desire to hurt themselves or others;
  • They experience sudden alterations in their eating and/or sleeping habits;
  • They are no longer participating in normal activities that they once enjoyed; and
  • They no longer feel that they can make their own decision.


All nursing home facilities and other caregivers are obligated by law to allow all those whom they care for to make their own decisions. If you notice any of the above signs of abuse, contact an experienced New York elder abuse attorney at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC to discuss your legal options. Call today at 212-397-1000.