In 2013, it was estimated that there were almost 45 million elderly people living in the U.S. Almost 18 percent of these seniors find themselves living alone and up to 43 percent of these report experiencing feelings of loneliness on a regular basis. This is significant because loneliness can be attributed as a main contributing factor that can help to increase the probability of death by about 45 percent with an estimated 59 percent increase in physical and mental deterioration over those who have meaningful relationships. One of the concerns that can contribute to these statistics is that of elder self-neglect.
So if you have an elderly parent or relative who wishes to continue to be independent, here is a look at the growing problem that is elderly self-neglect.
Self-neglect vs. personal choice
Self-neglect is found to be one of the most common forms of elder abuse occurring in almost 80 percent of cases where some form of abuse is taking place. One of the issues that many care managers have encountered in detecting and reporting this problem is the line between what is considered to be personal lifestyle choices of the elderly and what is actually self-neglect. Since seniors do have the right to some level of autonomy and independent decision-making, you have to be careful to look for any of the 6 warning signs that can indicate that this condition is active in your family member. These include poor hygiene and medication management, malnutrition or dehydration and lack of attention to physical surroundings, bills or the necessities for living such as food.
Since approximately 92 percent of surveyed care managers report that it is a significant problem in the communities that they serve, it may be significant enough for your relative to be suffering from self-neglect without your being aware, so pay close attention.
Taking the next step
Should you find that elder self-neglect is a problem for your relative, there are a few steps that you could take. These steps are sometimes not taken because of financial or emotional concerns but it might be necessary to save the life of your loved one. Moving the senior to an assisted living facility, a nursing home or to live with a relative full time may be the first thing to consider. You may also report the matter to the National Center on Elder Abuse as well as the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), especially in cases where you are unable to take the necessary steps yourself in providing assistance.
While as much as 90 percent of seniors, who live alone, would prefer to continue doing so and may even fear the loss of their independence, the long-term repercussions of self-neglect should be prevented if possible. And while there may be ethical concerns about protecting the senior's right to self determination, getting the care for longer quality of life might just be worth it.
To learn more, contact a home health company like A Better Home Health Care.