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How Psychological Abuse Impacts Nursing Home Patients

The National Center for Elder Abuse estimates that between 7.6-10% of nursing home residents have experienced abuse within the past year. Of these, less than 1 in 14 incidents of elder abuse are brought to the attention of authorities. Psychological abuse is one of the most insidious forms of abuse. Unlike physical abuse, it leaves no physical marks to discover. The wounds of psychological abuse are internal and can severely impact patient health. Patients who are physically or psychologically abused are 300% more likely to pass away earlier than their peers who are not abused.

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In 2000, a survey conducted of over 2,000 nursing home residents showed that 95% had witnessed or experienced some form of nursing home neglect within the previous year. The same survey found that up to 44% had been the victim of nursing home abuse. Of these, it's estimated that emotional/psychological abuse affected 7.3% of all victims.

The Bureau of Justice estimates that up to 9.5% of all elderly nursing home residents will experience some form of abuse during their stay in a nursing home. Of these, 67.3% of abuse victims are female with a median age of 77.9. Nursing home abuse attorneys know that this is a highly vulnerable demographic as most victims are physically unable to escape or resist the psychological abuse their caregivers are subjecting them to.

One of the greatest impacts of psychological abuse of the elderly is that it increases depression rates considerably. The link between depression and the development of both dementia and Alzheimer's is well-known. Over 5.1 million Americans over the age of 65 suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's. Psychological abuse can trigger these conditions which have a negative impact on overall patient health and quality of life. Most insidious of all is that as these conditions progress, abuse victims become more dependent on the care their abusers are supposed to be providing. The declining mental health of a patient makes them less likely to recognize they are being abused, and far less likely to report it if they do recognize the pattern of abuse they are being subjected to.

Elderly patients who are abused have higher rates of depression, chronic pain, digestive problems, and high blood pressure. All of these have a negative impact on mortality. Further, in 2008 it was estimated that it costs an additional $5.3 billion to treat the medical consequences of physical and psychological abuse.

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