Understanding Elderly Emotional Abuse and Its Preventive Measures
Among all types of elder abuse, psychological and emotional abuse is the most common and persistence issue. In fact, emotional abuse is also the hardest to track as often goes unreported. Unlike financial or sexual exploitation, the act of emotional abuse is not obviously considered criminal in nature. Contrary to physical abuse, emotional abuse doesn’t leave any physical evidence. In such a case, family members and other loved ones of a senior may not have any idea if it’s occurring as they don’t get to witness it firsthand.
Types of Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is when a person acts in a way that leads a senior to emotional pain and suffering. Such anguish of a senior can present itself in a variety of ways like nervousness, agitation, sadness, or fear. Acts of emotional abuse can either be intentional or unintentional; it depends whether the abuser wanted to hurt a senior’s emotions or if he or she was overly stressed and unwillingly lashed out. Emotional abuse can take two forms: verbal and nonverbal.
Examples of Verbal Emotional Abuse
- Yelling and screaming
- Threatening or pretending to harm the senior
- Insulting, name-calling, and ridiculing
- Talking to a senior as if he or she were a child
- Embarrassing the senior in front of others
- Causing guilt and upsetting feelings
- Being mean and callous
- Blaming and scapegoating
Examples of Nonverbal Emotional Abuse
- Pretending to cause physical harm
- Giving silent treatment
- Isolating a senior from others
- Restricting a senior from socializing
- Limiting access to water, food, or even bathroom
- Treating a senior as if he or she were a child
- Hiding or taking away personal belongings
Effects of Emotional Abuse
Since the abuse is related to emotions and psychology, its effects are less likely to be shown physically. Noticing any behavioral changes may not necessarily signal abuse, but your loved one will feel uncomfortable in a particular person’s company.
However, if your loved one shows several behavioral changes altogether, it indicated that he or she is experiencing a continuous act of abuse. Always check with a doctor or a psychologist to identify the signs of emotional abuse. Though every senior may behave differently out of such abuse, the following are some signs that indicate emotional abuse.
- Excessive anxiety and fear
- Depression and withdrawal
- Frustration and agitation
- Sense of helplessness and hopelessness
- Lack of interest and enthusiasm
- Inability to make decisions
- Feelings of mental discomfort and passivity
- Personality and behavioral changes