What does self-neglect in seniors look like? Perhaps you’ve noticed that your parent has lost a worrying amount of weight since your last visit. This could be a health issue that you need to get checked out as soon as possible. Or perhaps they’ve lost interest in food, since smell and taste can dull with age. They could also be depressed, or lack the energy to put together a meal on their own. The latter could be a sign of self-neglect. Other signs include a lack of personal hygiene or cleanliness at home. Learn about the signs of self-neglect in aging parents here, as well as how you can intervene.
Things to Look Out For
If you sense something isn’t right with your loved one, it’s best to have a chat with them first. Perhaps they know that things aren’t right but they are struggling to manage on their own. If they find it difficult to keep up with household chores, personal hygiene or food preparation, there are a number of resources you can tap on. Perhaps you or your siblings could pop by more regularly to help, or discuss your loved one moving in with you. Perhaps a dedicated carer might be the better option. Another option to look into is assisted living, which provides a range of amenities and services in a welcoming, comfortable environment.
Is it Self-neglect?
However, it could be more than your loved one just being unable to cope. Here are some signs that your loved one might be engaging in self-neglect.
- Untidy appearance
- Poor personal hygiene
- Lack of essentials – food, water and clothing – at home
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Neglecting household chores
- Non-compliance with health or care services
- Accumulating a large amount of animals and keeping them in inappropriate conditions
- Refusal to take medication for an illness or injury
Self-neglect can have very real ramifications. Living in an unsanitary environment can invite vermin and open your loved one up to diseases. Not eating or hydrating properly could cause your loved one both physical and mental issues.
What You Can Do
Self-neglect is common among seniors with physical or cognitive issues as they might lack the ability to care for themselves. However, fully functioning adults can still make decisions that can be categorized as self-neglect.
If you think that your loved one is self-neglecting, but they refuse any help, it might be time to look for outside assistance. This could be a tricky line to navigate however, as adults are allowed to make their own decisions as they wish as long as they are not causing immediate harm to others. However, there are some organizations that you can reach out to for help, such as your local Adult Protective Services (APS). When a report is filed with APS, they usually follow up on the report and conduct an investigation, after which they may confirm that the individual in question requires assistance.
If your loved one is open to help, you can speak to them about changing their living situation so that they can have assistance in their day-to-day life. Self-neglect could also stem from depression, so appropriate and supportive treatment would be ideal.