The number of older residents in Texas has grown steadily in recent years, leading to a large increase in the number of people in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. We trust these facilities to take good care of our loved ones, but all too often, a lack of care, staffing shortages, and other issues lead to emotional abuse, a problem that is every bit as damaging to residents as physical neglect.
If your family member has suffered emotional abuse at a nursing home or assisted living facility in Texas, contact Loewy Law Firm immediately. Adam Loewy is an Austin elder abuse lawyer who has been fighting on behalf of the injured since 2005 and is well-known for delivering exceptional results for our clients. Loewy is also widely respected by his peers in the Texas legal community and has been recognized as a Texas Super Lawyer for five years in a row (2017-2022). Let us help you pursue fair compensation and justice on behalf of your family. Call our Austin office today or visit our contact page for a free consultation.
What Is Emotional Abuse?
One of the most pernicious things about emotional abuse is that it can be much harder to recognize than physical abuse, and yet its effects are every bit as real and damaging. Elder emotional abuse, sometimes referred to as psychological abuse, describes a range of non-physical means by which a caregiver inflicts emotional trauma on an older adult. Emotional abuse can be either verbal or non-verbal, and the goal is generally to intimidate, frighten, or isolate the victim. Because emotional abuse on its own does not involve physical injuries, it can be extremely difficult to detect, and abused adults sometimes suffer for years before receiving any help.
Example of Elder Emotional Abuse
Elder emotional abuse in nursing homes or assisted living facilities can be verbal, such as:
- Yelling or shouting at residents
- Shaming or humiliating a resident in public or private
- Mocking or insulting a resident for having trouble performing certain tasks
- Talking about a resident to other staff in public in a derogatory manner
- Blaming the resident for things beyond the resident’s control
- Threatening to restrain the resident or making threats of physical or sexual abuse
- Disregarding or ignoring a resident’s concerns
Emotional or psychological abuse can also be nonverbal in nature, including:
- Isolating a resident from their family and friends
- Blocking residents from taking part in social activities at the facility
- Ignoring the resident when they ask for help or try to talk to facility staff
- Moving things a resident needs (walkers, canes, glasses, etc.) into areas that are hard for the resident to access or reach
Signs of Nursing Home Emotional Abuse
One of the reasons emotional abuse in Texas nursing homes and assisted living facilities is so difficult to detect is there are often few physical signs that it has occurred. Emotional abuse can be particularly difficult to detect if an older adult has a progressive neurological disorder like dementia or has other problems communicating. Here are a few warning signs to watch for if you suspect an older family member is being psychologically abused:
- Sudden changes in your family member’s personality, such as unusual feelings of sadness, anger, or anxiety
- Your family member has become withdrawn and does not participate in their usual hobbies or social activities
- Your family member talks about harming themselves or actually hurts themselves
- Your family member stops taking care of themselves physically or refuses their medication
- Sudden or unusual changes in your family member’s sleeping schedule, eating habits, or weight
- Low self-esteem
- Your family member seems to fear a particular staff member or is overly deferential toward them
- Repetitive behaviors like rocking back and forth, pulling hair, teeth grinding, etc.
Proving Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes
Emotional abuse can be especially difficult to prove because it is easy for the perpetrator to hide. If you suspect someone in your family is being emotionally abused in a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact a lawyer right away, as you will likely need their help to prove your case. Some of the evidence that can be used to prove emotional abuse includes:
- Testimony from the resident or other eyewitnesses
- Testimony from both expert witnesses
- Records from the nursing home or assisted living facility
- Surveillance footage from the nursing home or assisted living facility
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse in Texas
According to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, there are three ways to report elder emotional abuse, depending on the victim’s living situation. If someone is being abused in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or if they receive help at home from a professional caregiver, you can report the abuse to the Texas Department of State Health Services. If that facility receives Medicaid funding, you should make your report to the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. In cases involving elderly people being abused at home by someone who is not a professional caregiver, you can report abuse cases to the state Adult Protective Services agency.
You should also speak with an elder emotional abuse attorney as soon as you suspect the abuse so they can get started with their independent investigation and begin holding those at fault liable for their actions.
Why You Need an Austin Elder Emotional Abuse Attorney
Proving elder abuse can be difficult under any circumstances, but that is especially true when it is emotional in nature. Without help from an elder abuse lawyer, you may have trouble finding the evidence you need to prove your case, in which case the abusers may not face any consequences for their actions. A lawyer can also help you pursue the full extent of the compensation your family deserves, so you and your loved one can recover the money you need for medical treatment and other expenses.
Contact Our Austin Elder Emotional Abuse Lawyers Today
No one should have to suffer in silence because of emotional abuse. Loewy Law Firm is here to help. We offer free consultations and work on contingency, which means you won’t pay us unless we secure compensation for you first. Give us a call or visit our contact page to learn more.