Elder Abuse Trauma and Its Effect on Mental Health

As the elder population increases in the United States, so does abuse of the elderly, which continues to cause trauma and a lifetime of mental health issues for our older citizens. A major problem with this growing issue is the fact that many elders are afraid or embarrassed to speak up about the abuse they encounter, in fear that things may become worse for them. Seeking legal advice from an attorney you can trust could help you hold negligent parties liable for damages sustained in an elder abuse claim. 

At the law office of Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, our compassionate attorneys understand the trauma and mental health issues our elderly citizens face and how to apply state and local laws to help victims hold at-fault parties accountable for abuse and neglect. Our firm has more than 40 years of combined legal experience helping victims in Fort Lauderdale and throughout the state of Florida seek the compensation they need to recover from abusive situations (by appointment only).

Read on to learn more about elder abuse-and-claims of neglect that can negatively affect mental health. The results of this type of abuse could cause financial and emotional distress to the victims and their families, which could lead to trauma that may never subside. When a healthcare worker or caregiver negligently causes harm, it is important to learn your rights to holding them accountable and pursuing compensation to aid with your recovery. 

What is Elder Abuse?

When a person over the age of 60 is harmed or put at risk of severe harm by a knowing, intentional, or neglectful act by a caretaker or any other individual, it is referred to as elder abuse. The abuse could be physical, emotional, or psychological. Unfortunately, many elders endure this punishment from some of their own family members.

Elder abuse and these claims are difficult to handle without the help of a legal professional who has experience working with these types of cases. The abuse is often hidden and difficult to notice unless you know what signs to look for. If you think your loved one is a victim of elder abuse or neglect, they may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Feelings of fear, anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness, or weakness
  • Increasing depression, withdrawal, or passiveness
  • Avoiding eye contact or verbal communication with caregivers
  • Cowering when caregivers are present
  • Confusing or contradictory statements not related to health issues
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Not talking openly about certain situations
  • Avoiding family members or friends

Noticing these signs early could help decrease the chances for long-term trauma and future mental health issues. It is important to fight for your right to receive the proper care you deserve by holding negligent caregivers liable for your unnecessary suffering. Furthermore, it is natural to want to make sure your loved ones are safe and well-treated from caregivers.

What is Mental Trauma?

Any deeply disturbing or distressing event can cause an individual to suffer from what is known as mental trauma. No one is immune to trauma as it can affect people of all ages, especially the elderly who often feel powerless and helpless in these situations. 

Some common symptoms of mental trauma include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Shame
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Digestive issues
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Anti-social behavior

While these may be the most common symptoms of mental trauma, there may be other significant effects such as personality changes, which may include intrusive thoughts, distressing flashbacks, and other harmful thoughts and feelings.  

Types of Abuse Known to Cause Mental Trauma

Not all forms of abuse are physical or violent in nature. There are many other forms of abuse that can be equally traumatic, such as:

  • Psychological or emotional abuse – Yelling, humiliating, shaming, and/or verbal threats are all damaging types of psychological and/or emotional abuse that can result in long-term mental trauma. Caregivers and medical professionals have been known to lose their patience and take their frustrations out on the elderly, especially behind closed doors. 
  • Physical abuse – Slapping, punching, and/or kicking are just some forms of physical abuse elders have been known to encounter in an abusive situation. Even threatening an elder with physical violence can be considered abuse. 
  • Sexual abuse – When a perpetrator forces the victim to perform unwanted sexual acts such as touching, forcing sexual contact or intercourse, it is classified as sexual abuse. Victims could suffer physical damage and extreme mental trauma that may cause them to avoid all social contact whatsoever, even from the people they love. 
  • Spiritual abuse – Preventing elders the right to worship, forcing them to believe in a cult, and/or disparaging their religion are all forms of spiritual abuse. Victims who are not allowed to practice their religious beliefs can often feel emotional distress and hopelessness that can deteriorate mental health.

Sometimes victims of abuse are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This can be caused by a physical assault or experiencing a tragic event. Whether the abuse is physical or mental, victims could be eligible for compensation to help pay for medical costs, mental and physical therapy, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other possible damages sustained.  

Legal Assistance is Available 

If you or someone you care for was a victim of elder abuse, it is important to act fast and seek legal assistance immediately. If you suspect elder abuse, you should also report it to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs by calling 1-800-955-8771. Putting an end to the abuse early can limit the amount of trauma that may occur over long periods. 

The elder abuse-and-claim attorneys at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers are standing by to hear the details of your case. Schedule a complimentary initial evaluation with one of our experienced legal professionals today. Your information is kept completely confidential and there is no obligation to hire us for legal representation.

No elder should have to suffer from the negligence of others. Let our accomplished lawyers fight for your rights by helping you seek compensation from abusive parties that are liable for your damages.

Fill out a free online form or call our firm at (561) 800-8000, any time, 24/7.

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