Sacramento Elder Abuse Attorneys

Elder Abuse and Mental Health: The Hidden Consequences

When you think of elder abuse, physical harm comes to mind. There are often stories about elderly patients in nursing homes being abused by staff members. They may be slapped, punched, or kicked. They may have objects thrown at them. Even caregivers are known for physically abusing their elderly loved ones.

Physical abuse is easy to identify because it comes with harm that is clearly visible, such as bruises and lacerations. Some victims may even suffer from broken bones, head trauma, and other medical conditions.

However, elder abuse also comes with side effects that are not as easy to identify. Physical abuse can lead to psychological abuse. Indeed, many elderly patients suffer from mental health issues caused by the physical abuse they have suffered. These impacts are often difficult to identify, though, so loved ones need to be wary.

Unfortunately, elder abuse is on the rise. It is estimated that 5 million people over the age of 60 are abused every year in the United States. However, less than one-quarter of these cases are reported to authorities, allowing the abuse to continue.

So if you think abuse will not happen to your elderly loved one, think again. It can happen, and you may not even know about it. That is why you need to be cognizant of any changes your loved one may be facing. Here is a look at the mental effects of elder abuse.

Mental Effects of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse can have a wide range of mental effects, including the following:

  • Anxiety and depression. Elder abuse can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and anxiety. Victims may feel isolated and unable to trust others, which can exacerbate these symptoms.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Victims of elder abuse may develop PTSD due to the trauma they have experienced. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and hypervigilance.

  • Loss of self-esteem and self-worth. Being mistreated by caregivers or family members can diminish an elderly person’s sense of self-worth and dignity. This can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and worthlessness.

  • Social withdrawal. Elder abuse can cause victims to withdraw from social activities and relationships. They may fear further abuse or feel embarrassed about their situation, leading to increased isolation and loneliness.

  • Trust issues. Elder abuse can damage trust in caregivers and family members. Victims may become wary of seeking help or disclosing their abuse for fear of retaliation or disbelief.

  • Increased vulnerability to exploitation. Elder abuse can make victims more vulnerable to financial exploitation and manipulation. They may struggle to make sound decisions or may be coerced into giving away their assets.

  • Physical health decline. The mental stress caused by elder abuse can also have physical consequences. Victims may experience weakened immune function and increased susceptibility to illness, with chronic conditions worsening as well.

  • Cognitive impairment. Prolonged stress from abuse can negatively impact cognitive function in older adults, potentially leading to memory problems, confusion, and difficulty concentrating.

  • Suicidal thoughts. In severe cases, elder abuse can lead to thoughts of suicide or attempts to end one’s life. Victims may feel like they have nobody to talk to or no way out of their situation, so they may contemplate ending their lives.

Signs of Abuse

Has your loved one been abused? Be aware of these warning signs:

  • Your loved one has a physical injury, and the explanation is inconsistent with its possible cause.

  • There have been recent changes in the elderly person’s thinking. They seem confused or disoriented.

  • The caregiver appears to be angry or aggressive toward the elderly person.

  • The victim is missing personal belongings, important papers, or credit cards.

  • The elderly victim appears hesitant to talk openly.

  • The victim lacks basic necessities, such as food, water, medications, and medical care.

  • The caregiver has a history of substance abuse, mental illness, violence, or criminal behavior.

Anxiety and Depression in the Elderly

Depression can affect people of any age. More than one in 10 older people have depression. This increases to more than three in 10 people for those living in nursing homes. Elderly people who have depression often have other medical conditions.

Depression is defined as feeling down for two weeks or more or a persistent bad mood that is affecting a person’s ability to cope with everyday life.

The three main causes of depression in older people are poor physical health, social isolation, and loss. Loss may include the death of friends and family, losing their home, losing their pets, or losing their good health. With the right treatment, you can recover from depression, regardless of your age.

Reporting Elder Abuse

If you suspect elder abuse has occurred, you have options. Every county in California has an Adult Protective Services (APS) agency to help elderly adults (those 60 years of age and older) who are victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. While an elderly person who has been abused may refuse or withdraw consent at any time, APS is required to conduct an investigation when there is an allegation that a crime has been committed.

If you have suspicions, you should discuss them with the nursing home. The director can talk to staff members and even review camera footage and other evidence to determine if abuse did occur.

It is also a good idea to call the police. Local authorities can investigate the situation and determine if any crimes have been committed. If so, they can take appropriate action, such as arrest and charge the liable parties and even cite the nursing homes for abuse and neglect.

Contact Newman Law Group Today

Elder abuse is not just physical in nature. It can have a lot of mental effects as well, which is why loved ones need to be alert to the signs and symptoms of any abuse their elderly loved ones may be suffering.

The team at Newman Law Group, LLP can answer your questions and help you obtain compensation and justice. To schedule a consultation, fill out the online form or call (916) 352-3181.