Seniors’ lack of self-care, when it is due to diminished cognitive or physical abilities, results in what is known as elder self-neglect. Although a third-party is not involved in elder self-neglect, this type of mistreatment is still considered a form of elder abuse.
Elder self-neglect may be more widespread than people realize. Reports fail to fully disclose the magnitude of the issue, especially since self-neglecting seniors tend to isolate. Plus, the occurrence of this form of elder abuse is more likely to occur inside the confines of private homes.
Older individuals trapped in cycles of self-neglect put their health in danger. Self-neglect can also be life threatening. Through analysis of data collected on over 10,000 seniors, researchers concluded that elder self-neglect is highly linked with an increased risk for premature death.
Preserving the health, safety and lives of seniors requires that families and caregivers combat elder self-neglect. It helps to be familiar with the environmental signs of self-neglect, the physical symptoms of elder self-neglect and what health conditions may lead to self-neglect.
What are environmental signs of elder self-neglect?
Seniors without extensive social support are more likely to fall into habits of self-neglect. Long-distance families are often stunned to find their aging loved ones living in deplorable conditions during their infrequent visits. The environmental indicators of self-neglect are many.
Self-neglectors tend to live in unsanitary homes. Trash is piled high, foul odors linger and the place is infested with pests. Families may remedy unclean living conditions by hiring a caregiver. A part of professional caregivers’ tasks is to perform light household chores for an elderly care recipient.
A lack of food in the home is also a sign of self-neglect. These seniors may have physical limitations that prevent grocery shopping. Professional caregivers help combat this issue by shopping for fresh produce, preparing meals that meet the senior’s dietary restriction and helping with eating.
A home in disrepair signals elder self-neglect. The plumbing may have leaks or the heating system may be inadequate. In general, the home lacks maintenance. Families might resort to filing reports with Adult Protective Services (APS) to get seniors the help they need.
Additional environmental symptoms of elder self-neglect include failing to wear clean clothes. The clothing may be soiled, or the senior may be inadequately dressed for weather conditions. Professional caregivers help care recipients change into fresh clothes regularly and dress appropriately for the weather.
Unpaid bills point to elder self-neglect. When finances become difficult for seniors to handle, hiring an elder law attorney to explain legal and financial options is beneficial. Families may resort to guardianship or power of attorney to help an aging loved one manage financial affairs.
Medical aids are necessary; but when seniors go without them, it is a sign of elder self-neglect. A lack of eyeglasses, dentures or hearing aids can reduce a senior’s ability to function. A visit to the doctor or dentist can quickly resolve issues. Caregivers provide the transport to medical appointments.
What are physical symptoms of elder self-neglect?
Self-neglectors display a lack of personal hygiene. Hair is matted or infested with lice. Nails and skin may be dirty. Poor personal hygiene may be reversed with the care of a professional caregiver. These professionals discreetly assist seniors with bathing, toileting and grooming.
Bed sores or rashes that erupt on seniors’ skin are consequences of elder self-neglect. When seniors elect to age in the comfort of home, compassionate caregivers are needed to help them shift in and exit from the bed. Otherwise, living in an assisted living community can get them adequate supervision.
Unattended injuries result when older people engage in elder self-neglect. Fall prevention assessments reduce the likelihood that seniors will fall and injure themselves at home. Professional caregivers provide routine fall assessments and remove clutter so seniors avoid falling or sustaining injury.
Seniors who display significant weight loss, suffer dehydration or experience malnutrition are self-neglecting. Unless families can provide nutritious meals daily, hiring a meal service or a professional caregiver to prepare nutrient-rich dishes every day are appropriate steps to combat these issues.
A lack of sleep or inconsistent sleep is an outcome of self-neglect. Seniors are encouraged by professional caregivers to be physically active during the day so that they experience a quality night’s rest. Caregivers monitor care recipients during physical activity to ensure they remain safe.
What health conditions lead to elder self-neglect?
When elder self-neglect is due to cognitive conditions, like dementia, it is important that families discuss their concerns with a doctor. Families might step in as a guardian. Or, they may choose to hire a caregiver who specializes in memory care (dementia care) to enhance the senior’s quality of life.
Seniors who engage in self-neglect may resist interference. Well-meaning family members might hold a family meeting with siblings to brainstorm practical solutions. Or, family members might consult an objective third-party, like a geriatric care manager, whom the senior is more likely to listen to.
Before making a decision, families are encouraged to discuss their worries with the senior. Older adults, even if they suffer from dementia, have the right to make decisions. During talks, families should bring up the option of elder care from Assisting Hands Home Care.
As a reputable home care agency, Assisting Hands Home Care provides a range of in-home support so that care recipients lead fulfilling and independent lives. Our caregivers assist with personal hygiene activities, prepare meals, shop for groceries and provide reliable transportation.
Senior care services provided by Assisting Hands Home Care are flexible. We offer non-medical respite care, live-in care, 24-hour care, post-hospitalization care and hospice care. As an agency with a team of memory care providers, we are able to assist care recipients living with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Assisting Hands Home Care is dedicated to serving the senior populations living in the communities surrounding Lombard, Illinois. Prevent elder self-neglect from taking a toll on your loved one by consulting our friendly representatives and arranging for compassionate home care.