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Neglect is the failure of a caregiver to fulfil their responsibilities to provide needed care. It can be, active, passive and self-neglect.

Active neglect refers to behaviour that is willful, the caregiver intentionally withholds care or necessities. Their actions may be motivated by a number of reasons, financial gain being one.  

Passive neglect refers to situations in which the caregiver is unable to fulfil their caregiving responsibilities whether through illness, ignorance, stress or lack of resources.  

Self-neglect refers to situations in which there is no perpetrator, the neglect is the result of the person refusing care.

The Act of Omission is when anyone knows that abuse of any description is taking place and yet they fail to report it. 

Indicators of neglect include:

  • Poor personal hygiene, including soiled clothing, dirty nails and skin, matted or lice infected hair, odours and the presence of faeces or urine.
  • Pressure sores or skin rashes
  • Wearing inappropriate clothes for the temperature or no clothing at all
  • Dehydration which can be evident by dry skin, low urinary output, dry sore mouth, apathy, lack of energy and mental confusion
  • Untreated medical or mental conditions
  • Absence of needed dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids, walkers, wheelchairs, braces or commodes
  • Chronic illness getting worse despite a care plan and worsening dementia.

Behavioural indicators observed in the caregiver include:

  • Expressing anger, frustration or exhaustion
  • No contact with the outside world, friends or relatives
  • They may also show an obvious lack of caregiving skills
  • Be unreasonably critical, dissatisfied with social and health care providers
  • They may change providers frequently
  • They may also refuse to apply for economic aid and resist outside help.

Behavioural indicators observed in the victim include:

  • Emotional distress, crying, depression, despair, nightmares and difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite that is unrelated to a medical condition
  • Confusion and disorientation, possibly as a result of malnutrition
  • The appearance of being emotionally numb, withdrawn, detached or exhibiting destructive behaviour
  • Showing fear towards the caregiver
  • Unrealistic expectations about their care, they may claim that their care is adequate when it is not or insist that the situation will improve.