Self-neglect can be defined as the inability of a person (more often than not due to worsening dementia) to provide themselves with the necessities of daily living. According to DHS officials, Adult Protective Services received over 2100 inquiries in 2011 relating to concerns about self-neglect.
Indicators of self-neglect can be a lack of food and water, poor hygiene, dressing improperly, not taking critical medications and ignoring health problems. The person’s lack of understanding of their predicament leads to harm or endangerment.
Self-neglect does not include individuals who are capable of making informed decisions or have different lifestyles where their standards for personal care or housekeeping are not that of their community.
"Self-neglect and elder abuse is under-reported mostly because people do not know how to recognize the signs or indicators," said Marie Cervantes, director of the DHS Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations. "We want to raise awareness of self-neglect and ways to report it so that we may prevent it. Checking in on your loved ones, as well as vulnerable neighbors and friends this holiday season is a way to make sure they are healthy and safe," she said.
Last year, DHS Adult Protective Services received over 28,000 referrals of vulnerable adult abuse. The most prevalent allegations were self-neglect, financial exploitation, and neglect of care. DHS Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations specialists work to resolve the immediate crisis, reduce risk and help to establish long-term stability.
For information on vulnerable abuse and what to look for go to the Elder Abuse and Neglect Home Page
. If you believe abuse or neglect may be occurring contact the Department of Human Services office in your area or your local law enforcement. If you are unsure who to contact call 1-800-232-3020 (DHS).