Neglect can have a profound effect on an older person and should not be underestimated. Just one instance can be excessive in terms of its impact.

Neglect is abuse and, from the victim’s perspective, it is important to see it as such.

However, not all neglect is intentional and sometimes it happens because a caregiver cannot cope or is not getting sufficient help. For this reason, we distinguish between this type of passive neglect, and neglect which is intentional either by an individual or by the practices of an institution.

What are the signs of Neglect?

Neglect will often manifest in the physical, social or health circumstances of the older person.

  • Dirt, faecal or urine smell, or other health and safety hazards in older person’s living environment
  • Rashes, sores, or lice on him/herold man at window
  • The Older person is inadequately clothed
  • The Older person is malnourished or dehydrated
  • The Older person has an untreated medical condition
  • The Older person has poor personal hygiene
  • There is evidence of the withholding of medication or over-medication of the Older Person
  • There is evidence of a lack of assistance with eating and drinking
  • There are unsanitary and unclean conditions  

If you suspect neglect 

In considering neglect it is also important to recognise that there are occasions when someone will choose a particular lifestyle that is considered by others to be poor. There is a difference between a chosen pattern of behaviour, and neglect by others that causes a deterioration in an older person’s circumstances and condition. If there is doubt, then a capacity/incapacity assessment can be undertaken.