Elder Abuse pp 125-139 | Cite as

Epidemiology of Elder Self-neglect

  • Carmel B. DyerEmail author
  • Carlos A. Reyes-Ortiz


Self-neglect (SN) is the single most common allegation reported to Adult Protective Service Agencies nationwide. SN extends beyond simple clutter to frank squalor associated with severe impairment in activities of daily living. Risk factors include age, lack of social support, poverty, and isolation. Associated diseases include many common disorders of old age including dementia, depression, and other psychiatric disorders. Self-neglectors lack mental capacity and lack memory and/or the executive capacity to live safely in their environment. SN is a risk factor for hospitalization and death. There are distinct phenotypes of SN: neglect of personal hygiene, lack of health maintenance, and environmental neglect. There is a SN severity scale currently used in research; generally the most severe cases are reported to Adult Protective Service agencies. Hoarding that impacts quality of life is a form of SN. SN is a life-threatening condition that is an independent risk factor for hospitalizations and death. Other outcomes include functional decline, malnutrition, increased hospital readmission, and nursing home placement. A biopsychosocial path model was developed in 2007 and substantiated by subsequent studies.


Self-Neglect Elderly Epidemiology Risk factors Outcomes Hoarding 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Internal Medicine, Division of Geriatric and Palliative MedicineUniversity of Texas Health Science Center at HoustonHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Texas Elder Abuse and Mistreatment Institute (TEAM)HoustonUSA
  3. 3.Harris Health SystemHoustonUSA
  4. 4.UTHealth Consortium on AgingHoustonUSA

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