Neglect/Self Neglect

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What is Neglect/Self Neglect?

Neglect: failure by a caregiver or other responsible person to protect an elder from harm, or the failure to meet needs for essential medical care, nutrition, hydration, hygiene, clothing, basic activities of daily living or shelter, which results in a serious risk of compromised health and safety. Examples include not providing adequate nutrition, hygiene, clothing, shelter, or access to necessary health care; or failure to prevent exposure to unsafe activities and environments.

Intentional and Unintentional neglect

Intentional neglect  is considered when an older person is abandoned, not provided with adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical attention or dental care. Neglect may be the improper use of medication, poor hygiene or personal care or the refusal to allow other people to provide adequate care.

Unintentional neglect occurs when a caregiver does not have the skills or knowledge to care for a dependent person. They may not be aware of the types of support that are available, they may be ill themselves and unable to provide care.

Examples include:

  • Inadequate food and drink, which may result in; malnutrition, weight loss, wasting and dehydration. The person may have constipation or fecal impaction.

  • Isolation, lack of mental, physical, social or cultural contact/stimulation.

  • Inadequate supervision particularly when caring for someone with a dementia, the person is abandoned or left unattended for long periods or locked in the house without any supervision.

  • Inadequate or inappropriate use of medication, for instance, the person may be over-sedated in the middle of the day.

  • Unmet physical needs such as decaying teeth or overgrown nails.

  • The person may not be provided with necessary aids such as spectacles, dentures, hearing aids or a walking frame.

  • Clothing may be in poor repair or inadequate for the season.

  • Poor hygiene or inadequate skin care. The older person may be very dirty, smell strongly of urine or be infested with lice.

  • There may be a urine rash with abrasions and chafing.

  • In some cases when a person is immobile, they may develop pressure areas over the pelvis, hips, heels or elbows.

  • Hypothermia, recent colds, bronchitis or pneumonia.

  • Malnutrition, weight loss, wasting and dehydration, constipation or fecal impaction.

  • Lack of mental, social or physical contact or stimulation

  • Decaying teeth or overgrown nails

  • Clothing may be in poor condition or inappropriate for the temperature

  • Consistent poor health, always has a cold

  • Pressure areas over the pelvis, hips, heels or elbows

  • Dirty, smelly, lice infested, urine rash etc.

  • Lacking aids such as glasses, dentures, hearing aids

  • Over sedated or Under sedated

  • Abandoned or unattended for long periods

Neglect is a form of mistreatment by individuals resulting from inadequate attention, especially through carelessness or disregard for the needs of others. If you witness a life-threatening situation involving a senior or adult with disabilities, dial 911.

Physical neglect: includes failing to attend to a person’s medical, hygienic, nutrition and dietary needs, such as dispensing medications, changing bandages, bathing, grooming, dressing, or failure to provide ample food to maintain health.

Emotional neglect: includes causing emotional pain, distress or anguish by ignoring, belittling or infantilizing the needs of adults. This includes neglecting or discounting the emotional well-being of others, as well as actions to isolate adults from visits or contact by family and friends.

Abandonment: involves deserting the care giving needs of an individual while neglecting to arrange sufficient care and support for the duration of the absence.

Financial neglect: involves disregarding a person’s financial obligations such as failing to pay rent or mortgage, medical insurance or invoices, utility and garbage bills, property taxes and assessments.

Self-neglect: involves seniors or adults with disabilities who fail to meet their own essential physical, psychological or social needs, which threatens their health, safety and well-being. This includes failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter and health care for one’s own needs.

If you witness a life-threatening situation involving a senior or adult with disabilities, dial 911.

  • Sudden inability to meet essential physical, psychological or social needs which threatens health, safety or well-being

  • Disappearing from contact with neighbors, friends or family

  • Appearing hungry, malnourished, or with a sudden weight loss

  • Appearing disoriented or confused

  • Suddenly appearing disheveled or wearing soiled clothing

  • Failing by caregiver(s) to arrive as scheduled — or disappearing without notice

  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or insignificance

  • Failing to take prescribed medications or nutritional supplements

  • Blaming self for problems arising with family or caregivers

  • Living in squalor or hazardous situations such as hoarding or cluttering

When there is suspicion that an elder is being neglected by a caretaker or family member, there are various signs that loved ones should look out for.

Signs of neglecting an elder include:

  • Lack of basic hygiene or clothing for the elderly person that is appropriate for the weather

  • Lack of adequate food for the elderly person

  • Missing medial aids, such as walkers, dentures, eyeglasses, medications, or hearing aids

  • Being left in bed for an extended time without supervision or care

  • The home or living area is cluttered or dirty, with appliances that are broken or covered in dust

  • The living area is lacking in the necessary amenities, such as a refrigerator, stove, plumbing, cooling, and heating, or electricity

  • The elderly person may have severe pressure ulcers or bed sores

  • Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration

  • Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores

  • Unsanitary living conditions: dirt, bugs, soiled bedding and clothes

  • Being left dirty or unbathed

  • Unsuitable clothing or covering for the weather

  • Unsafe living conditions (no heat or running water; faulty electrical wiring, other fire hazards)

  • Desertion of the elder at a public place

If you need help

Visit One Place Family Justice Center at 530 S. Lawrence Street, Montgomery, Alabama or call 334.262.7378 or if you are in immediate danger Call 911.

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