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  • Writer's pictureLeitner Varughese Warywoda

Self-Neglect in the Elderly

Elder law attorneys receive plenty of inquiries about the neglect of elderly people by family caregivers and in nursing homes. Self-neglect in the elderly is at least as often. It occurs when elderly people are unable to provide for their basic care, and they have no one else to help them. It can be a sign that an elderly person can no longer live independently, even if the person does not want to ask for help. Self-neglect can also be a sign that a family member is abusing an elderly person by isolating them from people who could create a healthier environment for them. If an elderly family member of yours seems to be getting worse physically and emotionally in their current setting, contact a New York nursing home lawyer.

What is Self-Neglect, and Why Does it Occur?

Self-neglect occurs when an elderly person does not receive the help that they need with the activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, changing clothes, personal grooming, mobility, and using the toilet. The following are some possible manifestations of self-neglect:

  • The person spends most of the day sitting in a chair or on the couch because getting on and off of chairs is difficult.

  • The person rarely bathes and wears the same clothes for days at a time. This might happen because of the physical challenges of bathing and changing clothes, or it could be because the person is depressed or suffering from dementia and lacks the motivation or concentration to attend to personal hygiene.

  • The person is dehydrated. As people age, they become less sensitive to the feeling of thirst, so dehydration is common in elderly people.

  • The person does not receive medical care or go to doctors’ appointments despite suffering from one or more symptoms that warrant medical attention.

Social isolation can create a vicious cycle of worsening physical and mental health. Self-neglect is common among elderly people who live alone and do not see their relatives and friends often enough for the relatives and friends to notice that the person needs more help.

How to Protect Elderly Family Members From Self-Neglect

Self-neglect is often a sign that an elderly person needs the help of home health aides or that it is no longer safe for the person to live alone. To some extent, you can reduce the severity of self-neglect by visiting an elderly relative frequently and helping with shopping, food preparation, and transportation to medical appointments. Self-neglect should never occur in assisted living facilities or nursing homes. If it does, it is a sign that the staff of these facilities are not doing their jobs adequately.

Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC About Nursing Home Neglect Cases

A nursing home lawyer can help you if an elderly family member is showing signs of not receiving adequate care. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC in Brooklyn, New York, or call (212)671-1110 to discuss your case.


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