The crime of elder abuse is sadly far too common. Many elders experience abuse at the hands of others, whether it's physical, financial, emotional, or sexual. Another form of abuse is neglect, which is when a person in charge of the wellbeing of a senior fails to provide for their health and safety. But there are many seniors who are in charge of their own wellbeing, and fail to meet their own needs.
Self neglect is a more complicated issue. When an elder is unwilling or unable to meet their own needs, often the problem goes unreported. Physical or cognitive changes and emotional distress can make seniors less able to care for themselves and their home. The decline may be gradual, but concerns may pop up when family or friends visit. Warning signs like unsanitary conditions, neglected personal hygiene, mail piling up or bills left unpaid, malnutrition or dehydration are all red flags.
The laws differ from state to state, especially in the case of conditions like dementia, but it might be necessary for you to step up and intervene to serve as your loved one’s guardian. But remember that even people with memory loss have the right to make their own decisions as long as they’re able.
Before doing anything, evaluate the situation carefully. As long as they have the capability to make decisions about their lives, that’s their right even if you don’t like or agree with it. Your loved one may not want your help, either. It’s best to begin with a conversation where you can gently bring up your concerns.