Elder Self-Neglect: Most Common Form of Elder Abuse

The Geriatric Care Manager shows up to check on her 78 year old client. She notices the elderly man is gaunter and noticeably thinner than when she started the case. From week to week, the piles of mail seem to grow and the dishes seem to wait all week for the once per week cleaning woman to come. The apartment has an unpleasant odor signaling the need for more help than agreed to by the client. Sadly, all these are signs of elder self neglect, a growing problem among the elderly.

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According to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM), elderly self-neglect far exceeds any physical or sexual abuse or neglect by others such as their assigned caregiver. Geriatric Care Managers report as follows: 92% say they encounter this in their community; 52% of them say it is a growing problem, and 76% of them say it is the most common form of elder abuse/neglect that they encounter in their practices.

The warning signs of elder self-neglect are:

  1. Poor personal hygiene with respect to bathing and grooming.
  2. Poor medical management as defined by forgetting doses or refusing to take medications and refusing medical treatment.
  3. Signs of dehydrations and malnutrition.
  4. Unsanitary living conditions.
  5. Signs of unpaid bills, bounced checks and/or utility turn-offs.
  6. Weight loss and a shortage of food in the house.

While it is important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of elder self-neglect, it is even more important to take a look at possible underlying causes. These include:

  1. Depression which is so common in the elderly.
  2. Increased physical and/or mental deficits or dementia.
  3. Undiagnosed illness that might be causing extreme fatigue.
  4. Medications with side effects that cause lethargy.
  5. Continuation of a lifelong pattern of slovenliness.

If you think someone you know or love is suffering from elder abuse or elder self-neglect, you can contact The National Center on Elder Abuse for a state by state listing of resources that can help.

When you can’t be there, David York Agency is with skilled home health aide services for the elderly in their home. We are fully acquainted with all factors related to eldercare services and always available to set up a senior homecare plan taking the whole patient into account. David York Agency is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors and we would be happy to discuss your case with you. Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website. You can also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.