NCPEA - National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
Elder Care

Neglect and Self-Neglect

Neglect is the failure of caregivers to fulfill their responsibilities to provide needed care.

"Active" neglect refers to behavior that is willful - that is, the caregiver intentionally withholds care or necessities. The neglect may be motivated by financial gain (e.g. the caregiver stands to inherit) or reflect interpersonal conflicts

"Passive" neglect refers to situations in which the caregiver is unable to fulfill his or her care giving responsibilities as a result of illness, disability, stress, ignorance, lack of maturity, or lack of resources

Self neglect refers to situations in which there is no perpetrator and neglect is the result of the older person refusing care.

Who are the perpetrators?

Who is at risk?

What are the indicators?

Indicators are signs or clues that neglect has occurred. Indicators of neglect include the condition of the older person's home (environmental indicators), physical signs of poor care, and behavioral characteristics of the caregiver and/or older person. Some of the indicators listed below may not signal neglect but rather reflect lifestyle choices, lack of resources, or mental health problems, etc. One should look for patterns or clusters of indicators that suggest a problem.

Signs of neglect observed in the home

Physical indicators

Behavioral indicators

Observed in the caregiver/abuser

Observed in the victim

How can I learn more?