What is self-neglect and what are signs of self-neglect of senior citizens?
Seniors may sometimes appear to be suffering from caregiver neglect, when in actuality, the neglect stems from the elderly person’s own behaviors. Tragically, sometimes elders neglect their own care to the degree that is can lead to illness or injury, which can even mimic care giver abuse or neglect.
Self-neglect is one of the most frequently reported concerns brought to adult protective services. Oftentimes, the problem is paired with declining health, isolation, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or drug and alcohol dependency. In some of these cases, elders will be connected to supports in the community that can allow them to continue living on their own. Some conditions like depression and malnutrition may be successfully treated through medical intervention. If the problems are severe enough, a guardian may be appointed.
Self-neglect can include behaviors such as:
- Hoarding of objects, newspapers/magazines, mail/paperwork, etc., and/or animal hoarding to the extent that the safety of the individual (and/or other household or community members) is threatened or compromised.
- Failure to provide adequate food and nutrition for oneself.
- Failure to take essential medications or refusal to seek medical treatment for serious illness
- Leaving a burning stove unattended
- Poor hygiene
- Not wearing suitable clothing for the weather
- Inability to attend to housekeeping
Regardless of the cause, if someone you love is suffering from neglect it is important that you step in and try to assess the problem. Self-neglect can escalate into potentially serious consequences including dehydration, malnutrition, and even death.
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