Representation for Residents Suffering from Self Neglect in a Nursing Home

older woman holding a cane

Nursing home abuse can take on a myriad of forms – financial, physical, emotional or even sexual. It can be as subtle as a demeaning manner of speech or as overt as the bruising and breaking of skin. However, when an individual fails to take care of him or herself due to diminished capacity, and begins to suffer as a result, it may be an instance of self-neglect. While not often discussed, self-neglect makes up the highest percentage of nursing home abuse reports nationwide.

If you have a loved one that is currently suffering nursing home abandonment or neglect in a Texas care facility, give the compassionate Dallas nursing home abuse lawyers from Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP a call today. We have handled nursing home abuse cases throughout the greater Dallas area and we understand the difficult questions that accompany cases of self-neglect.

What Is Self Neglect?

“Abuse may get the headlines, but one of the most common situations we encounter is self-neglect… Sometimes when people become ill or depressed, they quit trying or simply can’t care for themselves without some help. That’s when someone needs to make a call to the Texas Abuse Hotline,” said Kez Wold, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Associate Commissioner for Adult Protective Services.

Unfortunately, the figures support his quote, with Adult Protective Services investigating 83,534 people living at home and found that self-neglect was at least one factor for most of the 51,608 cases of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

Self-neglect is a general term used to describe an adult living in a way that puts their health, safety or well-being at risk. This includes:

  • Not eating enough food
  • Wearing clothing that is dirty or insufficient for the weather
  • Living in unsanitary conditions
  • Not getting necessary medical care
  • Additional evidence that someone is not engaging in appropriate self-care

What Causes Self-Neglect in Nursing Homes?

As stated by the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) self-neglect manifests itself in “an adult’s inability, due to physical or mental impairment or diminished capacity, to perform essential self-care…”, outside of personal choice or lifestyle. Yet its root cause is a divisive issue. Ask one health care specialist you will get one answer, speak with another psychotherapist and you may get the exact opposite rationale. For better or worse, such habits are currently judged on a case-by-case basis.

Only by accurately monitoring the behavior and reporting it can caregivers help family members and doctors find a way to remedy the situation in a timely fashion. Some of the more frequently encountered reasons for self-neglect include:

  • Dementia – Older individuals often face declining cognitive acuity. As a result, they simply forget to take care of themselves and over a period of time it becomes a health issue.
  • Depression – Our elders are just as likely to suffer from depression as the rest of the population – sometimes even more so. Depending on the severity, older individuals may simply give up on taking care of themselves.
  • Isolation – The root of most nursing home abuse, isolation in a care facility can lead to severe self-neglect. Without open communication with the staff, and trust in their commitment, an older individual can lose all desire to enjoy their lives.

Warning Signs of Self-Neglect

Although the causes of self-neglect are not always immediately evident, the warning signs are far less ambiguous. Some of the warning signs of self neglect in elderly patients to consider whenever you visit your loved one are:

Declining Personal Hygiene

This can include brushing one’s teeth, combing their hair, clipping their nails, and showering. This can lead to infected bed sores, be accompanied by an odor, and would be best categorized colloquially as “letting one’s self go.” 

Lack of Responsiveness

Troubling signs that can indicate that someone is becoming less responsive is ignoring mail, phone calls, texts, or additional important communications.

Refusal of basics of life

This includes refusing to eat food or drink water. At times, this can be severe enough to cause dehydration and malnutrition.

Depression

This can include general apathy and emotional withdrawal. 

How Nursing Homes Can Prevent Self Neglect

There are a number of ways that nursing home staff and other caretakers can prevent elder self neglect:

  • Schedule activities
  • Interact with patients
  • Routinely check on patients
  • Schedule patient meet and greets
  • Encourage additional socialization

When Should a Nursing Home Report Self-Neglect?

Neglect, abuse, or financial exploitation of elderly and disabled adults is illegal. Additionally, under the Texas Human Resources Code, Section 48.052, it is a crime to discover this abuse without making a report, even over the objection of the elderly or disabled adult. 

For nursing homes, reporting is covered under Section 260a, “Reports of Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of Residents of Certain Facilities.” This law states that a person, including the owner or employee of a facility, who has cause to believe that the physical or mental health or welfare of a resident has been or may be adversely affected by abuse, neglect, or exploitation is obligated to report it. This reporting can be done anonymously and through a telephone hotline.

Dallas Nursing Home Self Neglect Attorneys

Nursing home abuse is an unfortunate truth that continues to plague our nation’s healthcare system. If you have reason to believe your family member is suffering from abuse while in the care of a dedicated nursing facility, don’t hesitate. Call Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP today and get the information you need to make an informed decision.

For additional information on elder abuse in nursing homes contact the Dallas nursing home self neglect lawyers at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP today, at (214) 974-3389. Let our experience, resources and dedication help you make the right choice for your family.