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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.


Informed consent:

A consent form is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that the person may need. Informed consent means he or she understands what will be done and can make decisions about what he or she wants. Permission is given when the consent form is signed. He or she can have someone sign this form if he or she is not able to sign it. He or she has the right to understand medical care in known words. Before signing the consent form, he or she should understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all questions are answered.


The person may need extra oxygen if his or her blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Oxygen may be given through a mask placed over his or her nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in the nostrils. Ask his or her healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

Vital signs:

Healthcare providers will check the person's blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about any pain. These vital signs give healthcare providers information about the person's current health.


A special diet may be considered depending on the person's condition. A dietitian may talk to the person about eating habits and help create a healthy meal plan.

  • If he or she has trouble chewing, thickened liquids to drink or soft foods to eat may be needed. Some examples are applesauce, bananas, and cooked cereal.
  • He or she may need to be fed by an IV or a nasogastric (NG) tube. An IV is a tube placed in the vein for giving medicine or liquids. An NG tube is put in through the nose and goes down into his or her stomach.


The person may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Pain medicine may be given. Pain medicine can make the person dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a healthcare provider when he or she wants to get out of bed or needs help.
  • Other medicines may be given if the person has other conditions that must be treated.


  • Blood and urine tests may be done to check for health problems, such as malnutrition and infection.
  • X-rays may be needed if the person has pressure injuries or bruising. Healthcare providers may use these pictures to see if there is an infection in the bone near a pressure injury. They may also check to see if his or her bones are bruised or broken. X-rays of his or her chest and abdomen may also be taken.
  • An ECG may be used to check the person's heart.
  • Neurologic signs are also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. A neurologic exam can show healthcare providers how well the brain works after an injury or illness. Healthcare providers will check how his or her pupils react to light. They may check memory and how easily he or she wakes up. Hand grasp and balance may also be tested.


  • Counseling may help the person feel less scared, depressed, or anxious.
  • Other treatments may be needed for injuries, wounds, or other health conditions.


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


The person has the right to help plan his own care. To help with this plan, he or she must learn about his or her health condition and how it may be treated. He or she can then discuss treatment options with healthcare providers. Together they can decide what care and treatment may be used. The person always has the right to refuse treatment.

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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 (Inpatient Care)

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