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Elder Neglect for Family Members and Carers


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


Seek care immediately if:

  • The person develops pressure injuries.
  • The person feels like hurting himself, herself, or someone else.
  • The person feels that he or she cannot cope with the abuse, or recover from it.
  • The person has shortness of breath, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat.

Contact the person's doctor if:

  • The person cannot get to his or her next visit.
  • The person has new signs and symptoms.
  • You or the person has questions or concerns about his or her condition or care.


The person may need to rest when he or she feels it is needed. Tell the person's healthcare providers if he or she has trouble sleeping.


Elder neglect may cause the person to feel scared, depressed, or anxious. A healthcare provider may suggest that the person see a counselor to talk about how he or she is feeling.


A dietitian may talk to you, the person, his or her family members, or carer about feeding and nutrition. A special diet may be considered depending on the person's condition. The person should eat a variety of healthy foods. This includes whole-grain bread, cereal, rice, and pasta. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables, including dark green and orange vegetables. Include dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose protein sources, such as lean beef and chicken, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.

Skin care:

The person may need to sleep on a special mattress called an egg crate or air mattress. He or she will need to be turned often if he or she cannot move himself or herself. This will keep him or her from getting pressure injuries.

Care of injuries or wounds:

Ask the person's healthcare provider for information about how to take care of any injuries.

How to help the person:

  • Report neglect. It may be hard to report neglect, but it is very important. Healthcare providers can help the person if he or she is at risk for or is a victim of elder neglect.
  • Attend follow-up visits with the person. A healthcare provider may talk to you, the person, his or her family, friends, or those who should be held responsible for elder neglect. This may include what may happen if elder neglect does not stop.

For more information:

  • National Center on Elder Abuse
    c/o University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine
    Alhambra , CA 91803
    Phone: 1- 855 - 500-3537
    Web Address:

Follow up with the person's doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during the person's visits.

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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.

Learn more about Elder Neglect for Family Members and Carers (Discharge Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.