Neglect by a caregiver occurs when a person who is responsible for care fails or refuses to provide food, clothing, shelter, health care, or supervision that is reasonably required to maintain the vulnerable adult’s physical and mental well-being.

Self-neglect occurs when an individual is unaware of their deteriorating health or environment, refuses assistance, or fears that assistance will also bring undesired consequences like loss of independence.


  • Poor hygiene – soiled clothing, dirty nails and skin, matted or lice-infested hair, odors
  • Unclothed, or improperly clothed for weather
  • Rashes
  • Sunken eyes, area around cheekbones
  • Dehydration, evidence by low urinary output, dry fragile skin, dry sore mouth, apathy, lack of energy, and mental confusion
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Untreated medical conditions – unattended fractures, infections, lack of wound care
  • Absence of needed appliances – dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids, braces, prostheses, walkers, wheelchairs, commodes
  • No heat, running water, faulty wiring or other hazards
  • Hoarding and garbage