How to Detect Senior Psychological Abuse

In-Home Healthcare Service

According to the American Public Health Association, there are “approximately 2.5 million victims of elder abuse each year in the US.” Of this 2.5 million, nearly 435,000 cases of abuse are deemed emotional or psychological. This data means that almost 20% of all mistreated seniors are suffering psychological damage. 

This statistic is especially troubling, as the effects of emotional harm are difficult to spot. Unlike physical abuse, there are no inflammatory marks or injuries to mark mistreatment.

Yet, it becomes easier to recognize the signs of emotional maltreatment when you know what to look for. Here are some of the (not so) invisible signs of senior psychological abuse.

Significant Change in Personality

As we enter into our golden years, it’s only natural to expect some form of emotional change. Yet, if your previously confident loved one has become noticeably quiet and withdrawn, it could be a sign of something amiss occurring behind closed doors.

Those who are suffering emotional mistreatment are more likely to display a new pronounced shyness, fearfulness, or social uncertainty. These changes reveal an individual who is currently having their own psyche continually undermined.

Heightened Response to Loud Noises

Be aware if your loved one has become especially sensitive to loud sounds. This reaction can be from a raised voice, slamming door, or outside car alarm. 

Make sure to track these responses to their source, especially if your loved one is continually jumpy around one particular caretaker. It’s possible that your aging loved one has been conditioned to fear loud responses from that abuser. 


Another tangible sign of emotional mistreatment is an increased bout of insomnia. It’s imperative to keep in mind that insomnia can be caused by a myriad of reasons. When an elderly individual finds that they cannot sleep, it is often explained by a new medication or living with a medical ailment. 

Yet, if they are undergoing emotional abuse, it can manifest in stress that causes them to lose sleep. Be wary if your loved one suddenly has an inexplicable bout of sleep deprivation, especially if it is paired with any of the aforementioned signs!

Increased Confusion

If you find your loved one has become increasingly confused, this is another warning sign of emotional mistreatment. Being gaslit, verbally berated, and demeaned all take a mental toll on the brain. Be wary if your loved one seems bewildered, uncertain, or consistently questioning their own reality. If you are thinking about finding new care for your loved one, then consider the experienced and careful care that an in-home healthcare service can offer you.