There comes a time in a Missouri resident’s life when they can no longer take care of themselves and cannot rely on family members to do so either. It may be because of old age or cognitive or physical ailments-whatever factors led to the decision for a family member to enter a nursing home, it is not an easy one to make. Many people conduct their research and visit many nursing homes before they find one that they believe will cater to their elderly family member’s needs.

Unfortunately, the cases of elder abuse are on the rise across the country-according to the American Public Health Association there are 2.5 million victims annually, of which emotional abuse accounted for around 435,000 cases. While physical abuse seems common and is visible to the eye, emotional abuse may be even more common and difficult to identify. Perpetrated by volunteers, caregivers or individuals employed at the nursing home facility, most of the victims of elder emotional abuse are female.

Mental abuse can constitute nonverbal and verbal abuse. It can include the following behaviors-humiliating the victim, engaging in demeaning behavior, ridiculing or ignoring the victim’s requests, yelling or threatening the elderly victim or intimidating them. Certain behavior on the part of the elderly victim can demonstrate that they have experienced psychological abuse, such as having low self-esteem, presenting scared or hopeless behavior, changing eating or sleeping patterns or appearing depressed, which is why it is important to remain vigilant of changes in the elderly victim’s behavior.

It is difficult to understand why someone charged with taking care of an elderly person would exploit their position and take advantage of a vulnerable person. Family members can feel frustrated when their loved ones become victims of nursing home neglect and holding the nursing home accountable for their negligent behavior may be one way to get closure.