Neglect can include:
- failing to provide adequate clothes, food, medication, personal care, hygiene, medical care or social activities; or
- placing the older adult in an unsafe or isolated environment.
Neglect can be intentional or unintentional. Unintentional neglect can occur when a caregiver does not provide necessities because of a lack of skill, information or interest.
It is important to distinguish between neglect caused by someone else and self-neglect caused by the older adult not taking care of themselves.
When a mentally competent person chooses to live in a situation of self-neglect, it can be difficult to help. In very general terms, people have a right to live as they choose as long as they are not committing a crime or posing a risk to others.
Signs of Neglect
- physical signs of malnourishment such as dry lips, pallor (paleness of skin) or excessive weight loss;
- untidy appearance or inappropriate clothing for the weather;
- lack of needed medication, appliances, dentures, hearing aids, mobility aids, or glasses;
- infrequent bathing or poor hygiene;
- physical or mental decline with no medical reason;
- wandering dangerously;
- lack of groceries; or
- cooking or housekeeping standards that could lead to an accident or illness.
NOTE: Some of these indicators may be present and the older adult is not being abused. These are only possible signs of abuse.
For more information, please view CPLEA’s Let’s talk: Elder abuse resource manual.