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May 31, 2011

Elder Care: Self-Neglect

The quiet menace
Self-neglect, the most common mistreatment among Houston's elderly, is a growing threat as baby boomers age
By RENÉE C. LEE
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
May 30, 2011

When caseworker Karen Edward arrives at her client's northwest Houston home, the 74-year-old woman is sitting outside her front door complaining of vision problems and feeling sick to her stomach.
"Do you need care?" Edward asks. "Did you take your insulin?"
"No," Clara replies in a faint voice.

It takes about 15 minutes for Edwards to persuade Clara, a diabetic, to get out of the midafternoon heat and indoors to take her medicine. Clara lifts her weak body from an old lawn chair and shuffles into her home of 49 years.

Loose electrical wires hang outside the front door of the three-bedroom house. The lawn has gone from lush green grass to dry dirt.
Inside, the carpet is worn and the walls need painting. Two weeks ago, neither was fully visible because they were covered floor-to-ceiling with Clara's belongings. She had so much clutter, she couldn't get around without falling.

Self-neglect common
Clara, who asked that her last name not be published, was referred to the Adult Protective Services agency about a month ago. Edward determined that Clara had fallen into self-neglect — the most common form of mistreatment among the elderly and a risk factor for early death, according to geriatric research.
In the Houston area, more than 60 percent of 1,500 cases handled each month by Adult Protective Services deal with elderly people who no longer can protect and provide for themselves, APS officials said.

People tend to dismiss odd behavior in the elderly as eccentricity, or they don't want to get involved in someone else's affairs, experts say. But self-neglect is likely to increase as baby boomers grow older, they say, making intervention and prevention more important than ever.
"We're trying to educate the public and people dealing with the elderly about the services available to them," said James Booker, director of Region 6 of APS, which oversees Harris County and 12 surrounding counties.



Abridged
SOURCE:    CHRON.COM
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DISCLAIMER

Any Charges Reported on this blog are Merely Accusations and the Defendants are Presumed Innocent Unless and Until Proven Guilty.

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