When checking on an aging parent living with others, you may worry he or she is not getting enough attention or personal care.

Elder neglect can easily go unnoticed, especially among older people who struggle to care for themselves or feel hesitant to speak up.


According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, neglect occurs when an older person is unable to obtain the help he or she needs from a caregiver. This includes a refusal to do certain tasks or help out with life necessities, such as physical hygiene or personal comfort.

Being left alone for long periods of time or dealing untreated health problems, as well as living in unclean living conditions, are all signs of neglect.

Physical signs

Many older people may stop partaking in activities they enjoy or appear uncharacteristically withdrawn. Sudden changes in temperament, such as bursts of violence or anger or sadness, could indicate something is wrong. A disheveled appearance or unexplained smells may signal a lack of personal grooming or bathing.

Continuing health issues, such as bed sores or chronic dehydration, may show that the caregiver ignores your loved one’s basic needs. Complaints of tooth or mouth pains may also show a lack of dental hygiene.

Long lasting issues

The state of the house or facility is important, since dirty walls, floors and furniture can be dangerous. A caregiver withholding medicine or other necessities, like adequate reading glasses, may also show a level of neglect. Psychological distress can cause mental health problems in elderly people, and can put them at risk for medical complications in the future.