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Elder and Dependent Abuse Unit

Psychological Abuse

Psychological or emotional abuse is defined as the infliction of anguish, pain, or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts. Psychological/emotional abuse includes verbal assaults, insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, and harassment. In addition, treating an elder/dependent person like an infant; isolating an elder/dependent person from their family, friends, or regular activities; giving an elder/dependent person the "silent treatment" and enforced social isolation are examples of emotional/psychological abuse.

Signs and symptoms of psychological/emotional abuse include:

  • Elder/dependent adult acting emotionally upset or agitated
  • Elder/dependent adult becoming extremely withdrawn, or non-responsive
  • Elder/dependent adult displaying unusual behavior usually attributed to dementia (e.g., sucking, biting, rocking)
  • An elder/dependent adult's report of being verbally or emotionally mistreated