Self-neglect must be monitored as your mom ages. For one daughter, the change was so gradual she didn’t notice it until her dad died. Suddenly, she could see just how little her mom was doing for herself.
What Self-Neglect Looks Like
When her mom stopped cooking meals and preferring microwavable meals or takeout food, she didn’t think much of it. After all, she hated having to cook meals after a long day of work, household chores, and helping kids with homework. Not wanting to cook seemed normal. That was just the start of the issues she noticed after her dad died, however.
Now that she was checking on her mom every day or two, she noticed her mom was always in the same clothing. Her mom was happy wearing the same jeans and sweater for days without ever doing laundry. She found past due notices on bills and stacks of books that were growing mildew in the garage.
She also noticed her mom was eating the same foods and never drinking anything other than coffee. Her mom’s diet became two yogurts and two bananas in the morning, toast and another banana at lunch, two more yogurts and two more bananas at dinner. She knew there was no way her mom’s nutritional needs were being met and that scared her.
When she called her mom’s doctor to schedule an appointment to make sure everything was okay, she learned her mom hadn’t been to the doctor in four years. Her fears of malnutrition, lack of medical care, and ability to maintain the home properly all bubbled to the surface in a matter of weeks.
Key Factors That Increase the Risk for Self-Neglect
Doctors at Weill Cornell Medical College, Columbia University School of Social Work, and Boston College School of Social Work penned an article on self-neglect in the elderly. They found certain factors made self-neglect more likely.
These factors are:
- Being depressed
- Being lonely and isolated from friends and family
- Having a chronic health issue
- Having a dependency on drugs or alcohol
Self-neglect can be hard to spot. Make sure you’re looking at your senior parent’s eating habits and activities around the home. You can help prevent self-neglect by hiring a senior care agency to help with tasks your mom finds too difficult. A senior care professional can help with housework, linens, grooming, and mobility. A caregiver is also a companion that might help your mom overcome feelings of loneliness, and most caregivers offer transportation services that can end isolation.