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Silence can be a sign of abuse

There are many signs that an elderly person could be being abused, but one that is important to recognize is the change in behavior from a talkative person to one who is primarily silent. When someone is upset about something, they may become withdrawn or quiet. That silence could be a red flag that something bad is happening at their nursing home.

Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities and sudden changes in alertness can be signs of emotional abuse, for example. An elder may be told to be quiet so much that they finally stay quiet to avoid punishment. They might be quiet due to going through humiliation or harassment.

It can be hard to spot emotional abuse, as well as some other forms, when an elder has dementia or other diseases or disabilities that make it hard for them to speak with you. To make it easier to identify changes that could be a result of abuse, you should:

  • Be watchful and visit regularly
  • Investigate any unusual incidents you know of
  • Ask questions when you can
  • Listen to your gut reaction, and take action if your loved one is in danger

Sudden silence from someone who is normally talkative and who likes to interact isn’t normal in most cases. While some diseases and illnesses can present with a rapid onset and lead to quiet behaviors, if those are ruled out, there could be other issues at play.

Unfortunately, elder abuse does appear to be increasing in the United States. Our website has more information on nursing home abuse, abuse in assisted living facilities and what to do if you believe that someone you love has been abused by the staff at the facility.


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