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Psychological Abuse in Alabama Nursing Homes: Can You Sue?

Psychological abuse in a nursing home isn't always out in the open. This type of abuse can go undetected by someone's friends, family, and even other staff members at the nursing home. Nevertheless, when psychological abuse comes to light, suing for damages is possible. Here is what you should know about psychological abuse in nursing homes.

What Is Psychological Abuse in a Nursing Home?

Psychological abuse isn't just a form of nursing home abuse. Psychological abuse can occur in any situation where one person or group causes mental trauma to someone by exercising power over him or her. The term is interchangeable with mental abuse and emotional abuse.

The exercise of power from the aggressor often happens in a non-physical way. However, psychological abuse in nursing homes does often come with other types of abuse as well.

How Does Psychological Abuse Happen in Nursing Homes?

People in nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to psychological abuse. Often, the elderly in nursing homes are at the complete mercy of staff members. That puts residents at an extreme disadvantage.

Some examples of how psychological abuse can occur in a nursing home can include:
  • Staff members purposefully lie to residents
  • Staff members threaten, browbeat, or belittle residents
  • Staff members keep a resident isolated
  • Staff members ignore a resident or a resident's reasonable requests
Actions such as these can create agonizing mental torment for someone who must endure them. A resident can start to feel trapped and can mentally retreat from what's going on. When patterns of psychological abuse go on for a while, this can lead to a sharp drop in quality of life.

For people in a nursing home, such abuse can start to manifest in their physical health as well. For example, a psychologically abused resident may go into a deep depression. That depression can lead to them not taking care of themselves or not focusing on the things around them.

In some cases, a resident who must endure such abuse may take drastic measures as a cry for help. Those measures can include hurting themselves or attempting suicide.

How Would a Nursing Home Psychological Abuse Claim Work?

The burden of proof is on the plaintiff in all personal injury cases. Usually, a caretaker, family member, or a conscientious staff member at the facility must take note of the signs of mental abuse. Those signs can include:
  • Abrupt changes in behavior
  • Looks of fear
  • Melancholy or signs of depression
  • Sudden incidents of self-harm or violence
You should report overt signs of psychological abuse immediately. If you experience psychological abuse in any way, don't stay quiet about it. If you are the caretaker or family of someone in a nursing home, look for signs and report anything suspicious.

In either case, you can report abuse or signs of abuse to the facility, the police, or a doctor who cares for the residents. If you're not sure, the Eldercare Locator can help you find resources. You can, and should, speak to an attorney who law regarding personal injury and nursing home abuse.

Reporting incidents and taking note of the evidence will help to build proof for the claim. Typically, investigations will come from the authorities, an attorney, or somebody in charge of the facility. 

Psychological and other forms of elder abuse are serious situations requiring immediate action. Whether the abuse occurs in a nursing home or anywhere else, you can take legal action. Psychological abuse often stems from negligence, and that means you have a right to pursue damages in court.

If you're a victim of or believe someone else is the victim of abuse in an Alabama nursing home, contact Cartee & Lloyd Attorneys at Law immediately.