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Elder Neglect for Family Members and Carers

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What is elder neglect?

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.

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 person's risk for neglect:

What are the signs and symptoms of elder neglect?

How is elder neglect diagnosed?

A healthcare provider will examine the person closely to look for any health problems caused by neglect. He or she will ask questions about the person's health. The person may be asked if he or she has been eating properly, taking medicines, and bathing. Healthcare providers may also ask questions about the carer.

How is elder neglect treated?

A person who has been neglected may be placed in another setting, such as an adult day care. Special services may be offered to ensure the person's safety and health.

What are the risks of elder neglect?

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.

How can I help the person?

Where can I find more information?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact the person's doctor?

Care Agreement

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