Self neglect in the elderly
What can you do to help if an elderly person is displaying signs of self neglect.?
Self neglect in the elderly is a sadly a widespread problem. More often than not the person is simply unable to care adequately for them self and needs some help but for what ever reason doesn’t get it. With more and more cutbacks to social care for the elderly fewer people are receiving the help they need to remain living independently with dignity and safely.
Depression often cause an elderly person to simply give up caring about themselves and not wash, eat a balanced diet or change their clothes. I once knew a woman who was able to do much much more for herself but due to depression choose to remain in a smelly dirty bed almost all day. Even offers of help are not taken up and an agency who were assigned to help this person withdrew their services feeling the time would be better used elsewhere.
What was always missing when the carers did come in was the fact this person although refusing the personal care aspect of the service really just needed some company, someone to talk to and be interested in them. This however is not what funds are allocated for by Social Services, they provide the essential aid to daily living, washing and dressing, food preparation and medication supervision. Elderly people become a name in a system and the social and psychological side of care is ignored. Often carers would leave early when realising they were having a ‘Frustrated Visit’ rather than sit and chat to this person.
You cannot force an elderly person to care adequately for themselves, but these individuals were once vibrant and contributing people. Taking the time to ask why they are not caring for themselves and suggesting you could help and just being interested in them can be enough to help them regain their self respect and feel better in themselves.