Self-Neglect : Challenges for Helping Professionals book cover
1st Edition

Challenges for Helping Professionals

ISBN 9780789009937
Published June 13, 2000 by Routledge
112 Pages

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Book Description

Understand the complex ethical, legal, medical, and psychological issues of the most common form of elder abuse!

Self-Neglect examines the social, ethical, medical, and practical implications of the most prevalent form of elder abuse. It can be difficult to diagnose and treat, and it poses ethical questions that cannot be answered simply. Yet it is so common and so destructive that anyone who works with geriatric patients must come to terms with it.

Everyone is familiar with the image of the wild-haired elderly recluse hoarding junk in a dilapidated house, but to their neighbors, friends, and family--as well as to the health care professionals, social workers, and clergy who deal with them--these recluses are a special burden. They often refuse care despite such obvious problems as open sores. They tend to be intelligent and independent. Do they have the right to choose to live in squalor, or are their choices dictated by depression or other diseases? Do health care professionals have a responsibility to treat them against their will or a duty to respect their stated preferences?

Self-Neglect examines the topics of passive suicide and indirect life-threatening behavior to help medical practitioners working with the elderly understand why patients do not follow doctor's orders or take care of themselves. Through case studies, this informative book explores the ways in which patients practice self-neglect by ignoring their doctors’advice, extreme lack of self-care, refusal to eat, failure to take their prescribed medication, and alcohol abuse.

Self-Neglect offers insight into many facets of this condition, including:

  • choosing among the many definitions of self-neglect
  • what kinds of people become self-neglecting
  • managing self-neglecting patients
  • when and how to intervene
  • the patient's autonomy and personal rights versus the rights of the community
  • self-neglect as a way to gain control of a negative life situation when other tactics have failed

    Discussing the sometimes tragic outcome of misdiagnosing self-neglect or leaving it untreated, this intelligent book will help you identify and understand this dangerous behavior and offer your patients better care for this condition.

Table of Contents


  • Preface--“Hector the Collector”
  • Self-Neglect: An Overview
  • Indirect Life-Threatening Behavior in Elderly Patients
  • Ethics and Aging: Confronting Abuse and Self-Neglect
  • Alcohol Abuse and Self-Neglect in the Elderly
  • Community Dimensions of Elderly Self-Neglect
  • Index
  • Reference Notes Included

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