Abuse in nursing homes: Non-physical abuse is still abuse

On Behalf of | Apr 17, 2017 | nursing home malpractice

When we check grandparent or parent into a nursing home, many of us hope that we’ve done everything we can to ensure that they do not suffer abuse during their stay. Maybe you checked reviews of a facility and did a walkthrough, and even researched any recent lawsuits against the facility or operators.

Unfortunately, even here in beautiful Myrtle Beach, the possibility of nursing home abuse still exists. What’s more, while most physical forms of abuse are easily identified if you stay vigilant, other forms of abuse are more difficult to spot. Still, these non-physical forms of abuse are serious violations of your loved one’s rights and dignity.

Non-physical abuse is still a terrible violation

When many of us think of nursing home abuse, we may envision caretakers hitting or sexually abusing patients. However, many caretakers who would not dream of harming a patient physically still harm patients in more abstract ways.

Most non-physical nursing home abuse falls into two primary categories — psychological abuse and exploitation. Both of these types of abuse require extra effort to document and prove, because they do not leave physical marks on the victim.

Psychological abuse may occur when a caretaker lies repeatedly to your grandparent, or verbally abuses them. They may choose to withhold privileges or tell your grandparent that they are unloved by their family, or that the staff disdains them. If you write your grandparent letters, the caretaker may never give them the letters, or otherwise play with the patient’s head.

While it is not easy to understand why a person who works in a nursing home facility would treat patients this way, it sadly occurs daily throughout the country.

Similarly, a caretaker may try to exploit your grandparent. Usually, this involves coercing a patient to give a caretaker money, or simply using the patient’s money inappropriately. While it is tempting to pity a caretaker who works long hours for poor compensation, the circumstances of the caretaker do not excuse abusive behavior.

This kind of abuse is often particularly difficult to get to the bottom of, because the caretaker and your grandparent may share a close bond and the caretaker may allow his or her own circumstances to compromise their fairness toward your grandparent.

The fight for justice begins with you

It is never easy to face the possibility that your grandparent is suffering non-physical abuse in a nursing home. In some cases, this is exceptionally tricky because motives and intent are difficult to discern.

The fact that these cases are difficult to prove doesn’t mean that you don’t fight . Instead, it means that you should take steps immediately when your gut tells you that something is wrong.

Most people know that they should contact an attorney for legal advice, but your ability to help doesn’t stop there. You can keep a journal of anything suspicious, write down things that the patient says, print bank statements or other documents you suspect might be relevant and report your suspicions.

You can be your loved one’s best advocate, protecting them and ensuring that your grandparent’s rights remain secure.


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