Elder Neglect for Family Members and Carers


What is elder neglect? Elder neglect occurs when someone fails to properly care for an elder. A carer may be a family member or someone who is responsible for caring for the elder. The carer may not bathe, dress, or feed the elder regularly. The carer may leave the elder alone in unsafe places. He may not give the elder treatments or give him the wrong amount of medicines. Neglect can happen in the elder's own home, the carer's home, or a facility, such as a nursing home.

What causes elder neglect? The exact cause of elder neglect is not known. Poor or crowded living conditions may be one of the reasons it occurs. The following may increase the elder's risk of neglect:

What are the signs and symptoms of elder neglect?

How is elder neglect diagnosed? A caregiver will examine the elder closely to look for any health problems caused by neglect. He will ask questions about the elder's health. The elder may be asked if he has been eating properly, taking medicines, and bathing. Caregivers may also ask questions about the carer.

How is elder neglect treated? An elder who has been neglected may be placed in another setting, such as an adult day care. Special services may be offered to ensure an elder's safety and health.

What are the risks of elder neglect? If left untreated, the elder may develop serious health and emotional problems. He may develop dehydration or malnutrition. Malnutrition occurs when he does not get enough calories or nutrients from food to stay healthy. The elder may also become depressed. Elder neglect is a serious, life-threatening problem.

How can I help the elder?

Where can I find more information?

When should I contact the elder's caregiver? Contact his caregiver if:

When should I seek immediate care for the elder? Seek care immediately or call 911 if:


The elder has the right to help plan his own care. To help with this plan, he must learn about his health condition and how it may be treated. He can then discuss treatment options with his caregivers. Together they can decide what care and treatment may be used. The elder always has the right to refuse treatment.The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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