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Verbal abuse is just as harmful as physical abuse

| Sep 13, 2019 | Elder Abuse

People who work with elderly nursing home residents face many challenges. One of these is communicating with them. Some are hard of hearing, which could mean that staff members have to use a raised voice to communicate. This is understandable; however, there is a fine line between ensuring the person can hear them and yelling at the person in an abusive manner.

Abuse of nursing home residents isn’t ever acceptable and must not continue because it can cause the person to have mental trauma and may lead to other impacts. Communication abuse isn’t limited only to yelling.

Saying things to humiliate residents is one form. This might include announcing that that person had an incontinence issue or relaying some of the person’s problems to anyone who is around. Trivializing the person’s concerns is another type of abuse. Making fun of what the person is wearing or doing is also wrong.

Isolating the resident or using threats of cutting out activities can also be demoralizing. This might not be blatantly obvious, but seeing a trend with it can signal that something is amiss and requires action. Verbal abuse can lead to altered sleeping patterns, feelings of hopelessness, loss of enjoyment of activities, changes in eating habits and increased aggression or frustration.

When a staff member is heard using a raised voice, finding out the reason is one step you can take. This lets you know whether the resident needed a louder tone to hear or if there is something abusive going on. Stopping this situation in its tracks is just as necessary for verbal and emotional cases as it is for the ones that involve physical abuse.