1. People & Relationships

What Are the Signs of Elder Self-Neglect?

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Question: What Are the Signs of Elder Self-Neglect?
What is elder self-neglect? When an older adult in no longer able to practice basic self care, including personal grooming and cleanliness, maintaining a safe and comfortable living environment, managing money and bills, and having social or family contacts.

Elder self-neglect makes people vulnerable to increasing health problems. And elder self-neglect puts individuals at risk for abuse by people who recognize that the elder is not someone who is adequately able to make good decisions or protect himself or herself from harm.

Answer: Elder self-neglect is more common than you'd think. The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that in some states, reports of self-neglect among older adult make up more than half of the cases investigated by protective services agencies, and reports of self-neglect are common in every state.

Common signs of elder self-neglect include:

  1. Little or no personal care: poor grooming, dirty or ragged clothes, unclean skin and fingernails
  2. Refusing medication or refusing to stay on medication schedule, unwilling to accept medical care
  3. Disoriented or incoherent: unable to focus, carry on normal conversation or answer basic questions about date, place, and time
  4. Unsafe living conditions: Lack of food or basic utilities in the home, unclean living quarters, rodents or other vermin
  5. Hoarding animals or trash, inability to get rid of unneeded items
  6. Inability to manage finances and property: not paying bills, repeatedly borrows money, gives money or property away
  7. Isolation:: Little contact with family or friends, no social support
  8. Alcohol or drug dependence
If you suspect elder self-neglect, report it to your local protective services office, or contact the Elder Abuse hotline for more information and guidance.

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