What does neglect look like?

Neglect refers to the intentional withholding of basic necessities or care (active neglect), or not providing basic necessities or care because of lack of experience, information, or ability (passive neglect). It can be due to an individual’s choice of lifestyle, depression, ill health, cognitive ability, or inability to care for self (self neglect).

Continuum of Neglect

  • Lack of attention
  • Inadequate clothing
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Poorly maintained living environment
  • Poor physical appearance
  • Lack of food in cupboards
  • Withholding nutrition/fluids
  • Dehydration, malnutrition
  • Withholding medical services/treatment
  • Lack of comforts of living – i.e. radio, television, telephone
  • Insufficient medication
  • Lack of necessary safety precautions – e.g., railings or ramps
  • Negligent health care – e.g., untreated sores or dirty bandages
  • Abandonment or confinement of senior
  • Neglect leading to hospitalization or death

Neglect Scenarios

Scenario #1

George has lived alone for many years. He has never looked after himself or the house very well. Now that he is 80 years old, he does even less. His neighbours worry about his lack of cleanliness and hygiene, and his inability to care properly for himself. They fear that his lifestyle will affect both his health and well-being. One neighbour has called “Continuing Care”. She hopes that George will receive some assistance.

Scenario #2

Kathryn is worried about Louise, her friend of 25 years. Due to declining health, Louise moved in with her daughter and son-in-law two years ago. Lately Louise appears to be depressed. When Kathryn asks her “what is wrong” she replies that often her daughter is too busy to make her lunch, or to take her shopping for new clothes or personal items. Quite often the daughter and son-in-law go out for dinner without leaving Louise anything to eat.

Scenario #3

Mr. Kaminsky, who is bed-ridden, lives in a private care home. He is not receiving good care. He needs assistance to dress and take care of his personal hygiene. He needs to be turned over in his bed on a regular basis, which is not happening. Mr. Kaminsky has developed bad bed sores. They are becoming ulcerous and require medical attention.

Scenario #4

When leaving the hospital after an operation, Louie went to stay with his niece and her husband while he recuperated. He was unable to take care of himself and was not mobile. Several days later, his niece and husband went on their holiday, leaving him at home alone. They had not made arrangements for his care while they were away, and Louie had not known they were planning to go on vacation. He was unable to get to the phone to call anyone, or take care of his needs. He became dehydrated and malnourished. If a neighbour had not stopped by, he could have become very ill.