Tag Archives: Board and Care

Self-neglect-Looking through the eyes of abuse


Carolyn Coleman-Grady, RN, BSN

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The health care industry cares about the elderly population. To ensure that the health and wellbeing of this aggregate group remain the focus of families and health care providers education on elder abuse is pivotal. It is important that families are equipped to meet the challenges of elderly abuse recognizing elder abuse is the first step. People are living longer and health challenges are challenges increasing.  The health care industry is concerned about Self-neglect. Experts suggest that cognitive deficits (changes) contribute to this problem (Kelly, Camel, Dyer, Pavlik, Doody & Jogert (2008). Taking care of our elderly is important. The question becomes how do we distinguish between non-self-neglect and self-neglect.

A team of experts developed indicators that help determine the differences.

Common signs of elder self-neglect include:

  1. Little or no personal care: poor grooming, dirty or ragged clothes, unclean skin and fingernails
  2. Refusing medication or refusing to stay on medication schedule, unwilling to accept medical care
  3. Disoriented or incoherent: unable to focus, carry on normal conversation or answer basic questions about date, place, and time
  4. Unsafe living conditions: Lack of food or basic utilities in the home, unclean living quarters, rodents or other vermin
  5. Hoarding animals or trash, inability to get rid of unneeded items
  6. Inability to manage finances and property: not paying bills, repeatedly borrows money, gives money or property away
  7. Isolation:: Little contact with family or friends, no social support
  8. Alcohol or drug dependence

It is important to know these indicators. These indicators will help you make better decision. Some decisions may include relocating from home to an assisted living facility, board and care or into your home. To determine the best decision, I suggest you visit facilities, speak with the administrators, activity directors and lead staff members. I can share with you if there is an odor of urine leave.  Patients that are not clean dressed and/or hair is not combed leave the facility.

Remember self-neglect can happen to anyone experts suggest that cognitive changes are contributing factors. Make wise decision when you identify the above indicators. Developing a plan for your elderly family members will help decrease self-neglect. If possible stay connected to your elderly family members, listen patiently and implement an effective plan it will reduce the effects of self-neglect.


Kelly, A., Dyer, C., Pavlik, V., Doody, R., & Jogerst, G. (2008). Exploring self-neglect in older adults: Preliminary findings of the self-neglect severity scale and next steps. Journal of Geriatric nursing 56(2) 254-259.

My name is Carolyn Coleman-Grady

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