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Self Neglect

– behavior of an elderly person that threatens his or her personal health or safety.

Self-neglect typically manifests in an elderly person as a refusal or failure to provide himself or herself with adequate food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medication, and safety precautions.

Important Note: This definition of self-neglect excludes a situation in which a mentally competent older person, who understands the consequences of his or her decisions, makes a conscious and voluntary decision to engage in acts that threaten his or her health or safety as a matter of personal choice.

self-neglectSigns and Symptoms

  • dehydration, malnutrition, untreated or improperly attended medical conditions, and poor personal hygiene
  • hazardous or unsafe living conditions and arrangements (e.g., improper wiring, no indoor plumbing, no heat, no running water)
  • unsanitary or unclean living quarters (e.g., animal/insect infestation, no functioning toilet, fecal/urine smell)
  • inappropriate and/or inadequate clothing, lack of the necessary medical aids (e.g., eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures)
  • grossly inadequate housing or homelessness