Mental and Verbal Abuse in Nursing Homes

By law, residents of nursing homes have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. All too often this right is violated and the elderly become victims of psychological or emotional abuse, which we sadly find in a variety of forms.

Verbal Threats

Verbal threats can be devastating and lead to a constant fear of nursing home residents. Abusive staff often threats the residents that they will not get a next meal if they don’t stop sloppy eating habits. Even worse, residents are threatened that they will be spanked if they wet their bed one more time.

Verbal Degradation

Verbal degradation is anything from screaming or yelling at residents to have them act in a certain way or for not reason at all. Verbal degradation may also entail sarcastic remarks or insulting the resident.

Emotional Manipulation

Emotional manipulation is a mean and calculating habit of certain nursing home staff. Due to the residents’ dependence on the staff for almost every activity or daily living, the self-esteem may decrease for the resident. Staff members notice the residents’ shortage of self-belief and take advantage of the situation. For this reason, many residents will rather overlook physical abuse out of fear of being deprived of attention and care or they won’t ask for a drink/snack and accept dehydration or malnutrition due the consequences for asking.

Emotional Threats

Emotional threats keep residents from speaking out. If residents witness abuse, they won’t report the abuse out of fear of being abused themselves. Abusive staff communicates this threat very clearly and residents realize that they are at a disadvantage in the nursing home. Therefore they are easily silenced because residents realize that they can’t fight or stop the abuse.


Isolation occurs when staff members refuse to give the resident any attention and/or isolates him/her from social activities, friends or family members.

If you suspect or if you have witnessed abuse in a nursing home, you should seek medical attention immediately if the circumstances require it. Your next step should then be to contact the local police and other agencies in order to investigate the complaint. As criminal abuse of the elderly is not acceptable, you should also seek an attorney.

Attorneys specialized in nursing home abuse and neglect have experience in these type of cases and they know the legal rights of the nursing home resident. Not only can those rights be rectified and enforced, but at the same time, legal action can be taken against the nursing home and/or the abusive staff member particularly. While monetary damages for the abused can be claimed, a lawsuit with adequate consequences may also set an example for other care institutions, which may then save many others from nursing home abuse and neglect.

Have you or someone you know fallen victim to mental and verbal abuse in a nursing home? If so, contact one of our experienced nursing home lawyers in your area today!