6 Things to Look for if You Suspect Elder Neglect

6 Signs to Look For if You Suspect Elder Neglect.

Bedsores, malnourishment, and unsanitary living conditions—is someone who you love the victim of elder neglect?

Elder neglect is a form of elder abuse in which caregivers charged with taking care of an elderly individual fail in their duties. The perpetrators of elder neglect are often those whom the patient and families trust most:

  • An in-home caregiver
  • A staff member  of a nursing home
  • Even a relative

The neglect might be intentional or not; in either case, the victims suffer because they are fundamentally unable to care for themselves and depend upon others for their well-being.

If someone you love who needs help caring for themselves begins displaying one or more of the six symptoms below, chances are they might be the victim of elder neglect.

1. Clothes Inappropriate for the Circumstances

Elderly persons wearing inappropriate clothing might be an indication that their caregivers are failing in the duties. However, this must go well beyond wearing white after Labor Day.

Some examples that might legitimately cause concern include:

  • Wearing shorts or a light cotton dress outside in the snow
  • Wearing a winter parka during a summer heatwave
  • Wearing inappropriately revealing outfits
  • Wearing clothes covered in stains, food, or holes

Any of these might be a sign of elder neglect. In some cases, wearing the wrong clothing can be dangerous.

2. Sudden Weight Loss

A sudden, obvious weight loss might be another indication of elder neglect, because it is often a sign of malnutrition. If your great-grandfather starts looking skeletal and frail after years of robust health, his caregivers might not be feeding him enough, or the right type of food.

3. Unsanitary Conditions

If your beloved Aunt Pearl’s current living conditions are unsanitary, it might simply mean she’s sloppy by nature. However, if she has been fastidious and clean all her life, a filthy bedroom or clothes that have not been washed in weeks might indicate elder neglect. Be on the lookout for dirt, mold, signs of insects or other vermin, and soiled bedclothes that nobody has changed.

4. Unsafe Living Conditions

Similar to number 3, unsafe living conditions can be a sign elder neglect.  If Aunt Pearl’s living room is filled with stacks of newspapers beside a kerosene heater, or if the gas or water has been shut off in her apartment, something is likely amiss.

5. Being Left Alone in Public

Your Great-uncle Don gets confused and scared when he finds himself in unfamiliar places. If his caregiver then leaves him alone at shopping mall or grocery store, it might be a good idea to get a new caregiver. Desertion in public is one of the most serious indicators of elder neglect.

6. Untreated Illnesses or Sores

Untreated illnesses or bedsores can cause serious problems for anybody, but they are particularly dangerous to the elderly, who are often frail and have immune systems that do not function well. Therefore, if your loved one displays symptoms like these, you should be very concerned.

Bedsores result from unrelieved pressure on the skin. To prevent them, caregivers must regularly help patients roll over onto one side or the other to relieve pressure on the buttocks, the back, and the backside of the legs. Failure to do this can indicate neglect.

In conclusion, be aware that none of these symptoms taken individually is cause for immediate concern that your loved one is a victim of elder neglect. However, if a pattern of neglect becomes apparent, you should takes steps to make sure your loved one is safe and receives proper care.