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Neglect occurs when an older person is deprived of the necessities of life such as adequate and nutritious food, medications, suitable accommodation and proper hygiene, such as showering and bathing.

There are 2 types of neglect:

1. Intentional neglect

Intentional neglect is the deliberate withholding of basic care or necessities.

Older people who are subject to neglect are more likely to have poor health, poor quality of life and some form of depression.

Intentional neglect is usually perpetrated by a family member or relative, as the older person is more likely to be dependant on these people to provide care and support or have an understanding that they will care for the older person. The neglected older person might be reluctant to raise concerns about their care needs being unmet because they’re dependant on the perpetrator. Under these circumstances, shame, fear or love for the family member can result in the older person remaining silent about the neglect that is occurring.

Often when an older person is discharged from hospital, there is a greater potential for their needs not to be met, because their needs have increased and/or become more complex. In this situation, the perpetrator is unwilling to provide care or seek support from an external source.

Neglect can occur as a result of other types of abuse, such as financial abuse. For example, if an older person is being financially abused it might result in them not having sufficient funds to obtain additional home care help, purchase necessary medications or maintain a nutritious diet.

Neglect includes acts which:

  • Leave an older person in an unsafe place or state
  • Stop access to medical treatment
  • Abandon the older person
  • Don’t provide adequate clothing or sufficient food and liquids
  • Don’t provide treatment for illnesses
  • Over or under use medication
  • Expose the older person to unhealthy or unsanitary conditions

2. Passive neglect

Passive neglect is the failure to provide proper care due to carer stress, lack of knowledge or ability. It may occur unintentionally and may simply require getting additional support to assist the carer and older person.

Elsie decided to move in with her daughter, Lana, and her son-in-law, Jason, at their invitation, after her husband died...
If you, or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, help is available through our confidential helpline on 1300 368 821.

If it is an emergency, call 000.
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