In our society, we try to protect those who are unable to protect themselves. The groups of people that may be most often thought of as unable to protect themselves are children and the disabled, but it is important to remember that in many cases, this is true of the elderly as well. If you have an elderly loved one who you have placed in a nursing home, or under in-home care, you know that this person needs to be protected from various forms of abuse and neglect. Of course, in most cases caregivers take their roles and responsibilities very seriously and provide wonderful, compassionate care for our elders as they enter their twilight years. Unfortunately, there are, as always, exceptions.
Emotional abuse can be a terrible burden for elders, even though there is no physical pain or injury resulting from it. As a result, while it can be devastating, it can also be very difficult to observe. The National Center on Elder Abuse defines emotional abuse as the “infliction of anguish, pain, or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts.” This can take many forms. Some, such as unreasonable shouting, insults, and verbal threats are obvious while others are more subtle. Regularly making embarrassing or humiliating comments about the elder, forcing social isolation, giving him or her “the silent treatment” are all emotionally abusive behaviors. Another example is treating an elder like a baby. While in many respects caring for an elder is similar to caring for a child, speaking to that person, or treating him or her as a child is inappropriate.
As with physical abuse, many people will not report that they are being emotionally abused; they may feel that they have done something to deserve this treatment. There are signs that you can look for, however. If you elder loved one becomes unusually withdrawn or non-communicative or is frequently agitated or upset for no apparent reason, you should try to find out if there in fact is a reason. Also, if your elder loved one reverts to infant-like behavior such as thumb-sucking or rocking, this may be a sign of emotional abuse. An important thing to know if you have suspicions of emotional abuse is that, mandatory reporting of abuse, mistreatment, or self-neglect of elders, as of May 16, 2013, is now required in Colorado, for certain professionals and caregivers. Reports are made to a law enforcement agency not more than 24 hours after making the observation or discovery. People who do report are immune for reports made in good faith.
While emotional abuse can be very difficult to detect, there are resources available to help you. One of the most important resources can be a Colorado Elder Abuse Attorney. An experienced elder abuse lawyer can help direct you to the resources that you need, and can also help your family navigate the legal system if your suspicions turn out to be true. If you believe that your elder family member is being emotionally abused by a caregiver, contact Colorado Elder Abuse attorney Rhett Meyer today. Rhett possesses the experience, knowledge and compassion to help restore your family’s dignity, and end the abuse of your loved one. For more information and a free consultation, contact Rhett at (303) 444-1618.