Elder Abuse: Can Be Self-Inflicted

Elderly patients many times neglect themselves. The NYTimes wrote a fantastic article related to this subject:

"The man was living alone with his two dogs, in a remote area outside San Antonio, when someone called the Texas state hotline to report that a supposed friend was financially exploiting him. So the state adult protective services agency sent a caseworker to the man’s home.

She found an 86-year-old Vietnam veteran in a dirty, cluttered house full of empty liquor bottles. His legs swollen by chronic cellulitis, he could barely walk, so he used a scooter.

He missed doctor’s appointments. He had the medications he needed for cellulitis and diabetes, but didn’t take them. Though he had a functioning toilet, he preferred to urinate into plastic gallon jugs. He didn’t clean up after his dogs. He wasn’t eating well.

This behavior pointed to an underrecognized problem called self-neglect. It accounts for more calls to adult protective services agencies nationwide than any other form of elder abuse."

The article continues to show how a patient can deteriorate in a short time. After Adult Protective Services forced him to accept help, things took a turn.

"Grudgingly, he allowed the agency to set up a thorough housecleaning, to start sending a home care aide and to arrange for Meals on Wheels.

But on a follow-up visit a month later, the caseworker found her client markedly deteriorated. His swollen legs now oozed. He’d become personally filthy and was ranting incoherently. She returned with an ambulance and a doctor who determined that the client lacked the capacity to make medical decisions.

Off he went to a San Antonio hospital, under an emergency court order. The caseworker locked up the house and kenneled the dogs.

“Family members get fed up and don’t want to get involved,” said Courtney Reynolds, a research analyst at the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging in Cleveland. “They attribute it to a character issue, like stubbornness, instead of a decline in the person’s ability to manage.”

Families are often reluctant to get involved and find their parents or grandparents incredibly stubborn. It is critical for family members to stay involved and push necessary services to ensure the health and safety of family members.

Feel free to read the entire article at the below link:

Elder Abuse: Self-Infliction