The question is not if but when.
It is inevitable that as people get older, at some point they will no longer be able to take care of themselves. By then, however, the individual is in no position to be the judge of needing help, and the difficult decision of stepping in must fall to loved ones.
“For inexperienced family caregivers, knowing when to get involved and where to go for help is not always clear, but its importance is unyielding,” according to a recent article on the website for Family Private Care Inc. “The Public Policy Institute of AARP reports that self-neglect represents nearly 40 to 50 percent of all cases reported to states’ Adult Protective Services. Self-neglect often occurs when aging adults become unwilling or unable to manage necessary self-care, including personal grooming, general maintenance in the home, financial management, social affairs, and other standards of living.”
The website offers these possible signs for which friends and family members should look:
- Malnourishment due to poor eating habits and inadequate nutrition at home
- Poor personal hygiene, including dirty clothing, hair, skin, nails, etc.
- Not receiving proper medical attention
- Isolation from friends, family and regular activities
- Noticeable changes in the home, such as repairs that need to be made, hoarding, expired food/drink in the kitchen, unusual smells
- Self destructive behaviors, like excessive alcohol or drug use
“Struggling to perform these self-care tasks make individuals vulnerable to other serious health hazards,” the site warns. “To help protect elderly loved ones, be aware of the signs of self-neglect and observe his or her behaviors. Stay in close contact with loved ones and voice your concerns to those around you.
“Those who need help the most will likely be the first to refuse it. This puts caregivers in a tough situation. Be patient and encourage your loved one to accept help, and offer your support when necessary. If you feel that your loved one is in immediate danger, however, seek professional help.”