Elder Abuse is a term most of us understand but self-neglect is a component that is rarely spoken about. Self-neglect according to the Administration on Aging is characterized as the failure of a person to perform essential self-care tasks and that failure threatens his/her own health or safety.
How many of us have seen a loved one disheveled, unclean or not eating properly but accept it because the person does not want to be dependent on anyone or the person is stubborn and refuses to cooperate in changing his/her circumstances claiming to be content and happy. Calling self-neglect “elder abuse” should bring this problem to the forefront and could make caring individuals wake up and say, there needs to be some intervention here.
Working with the elderly you can see things that are not healthful or even correct. So often I notice people’s shoes. Many times an elderly person is shuffling around in ill-fitting slippery shoes. Even bedroom slippers can be dangerous if they do not fit snugly. Flip Flops may be comfortable for people with swollen feet but they have no arch support and can actually be hazardous. This is self-neglect but who would be the responsible party if the individual has no family? Hopefully, a medical professional can pick up on this but if a person does not have regular checkups this will fall through the cracks. I think public health announcements in print and/or TV would be a good way of spreading the word about elder abuse. In Harford County if you see someone in the depths of self neglect it is permissible to call social services anonymously.
If you would like to know more about self-care/elder abuse you can find it on-line at www.aoa.gov/