Emotional Distress can Result from Nursing Home Abuse

Families often use nursing homes as a safe alternative for elderly family members. A nursing home should provide its residents with a positive and caring environment. While the majority of nursing homes aid and protect our elderly loved ones, abuse remains a problem in these homes.

Nursing home abuse1 can be physical, emotional, or both. Physical abuse results in more discernable signs. For example, physical abuse can lead to broken bones, bruises, or other physical injuries. Emotional abuse is more difficult to identify. Emotional abuse is more difficult to identify because is it less understood. Additionally, symptoms of emotional abuse may also be misidentified as other age-related factors. Some signs of emotional abuse include:

  • Changes in behavior;
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness;
  • Agitation and frustration;
  • Compromised decision making; or
  • Low self-esteem.

Many incorrectly attribute these symptoms to aging, and emotional abuse is often overlooked as a result. Emotional abuse is more commonly identified when more severe warning signs surface. Among those signs are:

  • Nervousness in the presence of the abuser;
  • Guests are prohibited from seeing the patient alone;
  • Contradictory statements regarding behavior and/or injuries.

Families should attempt to identify and address signs of abuse whenever abuse is suspected.

Legal Remedies

Nursing home abuse may be the result of an employee’s negligence or it may be due to an intentional act. In either situation, both the abusive employee(s) and the nursing home should be held liable. Florida residents may be able to bring forth a legal cause of action against both an employee and its employer under a theory of respondeat superior.2 Under this theory, employers may be held liable for the actions (or lack thereof) of its employees.

Someone who is abused, as well as his or her family, may be able to recover damages. Some of the potentially recoverable damages include:

Medical Expenses a victim of emotional abuse may require medical care in order to recover. Victims are entitled to recover the costs of medical expenses.

Pain and Suffering these damages are designed to compensate an injured party for the physical and emotional pain caused. Sometimes, this can be a significant amount of damages.

Punitive Damages these damages are designed to “send a message.” The goal is to punish the offenders and further discourage other bad actors from committing abusive acts.

In addition to civil suits, nursing homes may face criminal charges. Elder abuse is a criminal act both at the state and federal level.3


Nursing home abuse at facilities such as Brookdale Senior Living is unacceptable. Nursing homes that do not sufficiently prevent the abuse of the elderly can and should be held liable for their employees’ negligent or intentional abusive acts. Fortunately, legal remedies are available to the elderly and their families. If you or a loved one have suffered nursing home abuse, or even if you suspect abuse has occurred, you should contact the Dolman Law Group. Our experienced attorneys are ready to ensure that the abused recover just compensation for any nursing home-related abuse. Schedule your free initial consultation by calling 727-853-6275 today.

Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 853-6275