Facts on neglect of seniors

Neglect is deliberate or inadvertent failure on the part of an informal or formal caregiver to provide needed assistance to the older person. In some circumstances, an older person who is neglecting themselves may refuse assistance. These cases are often related to physical limitations or cognitive difficulties.

Learn the signs

Neglect of seniors may include failure to provide:

  • water or food
  • shelter
  • clothing
  • medication or medical attention
  • assistance with basic necessities

Signs of possible neglect may include:

  • dehydration or malnourishment
  • untreated bedsores or other medical problems
  • unsanitary household conditions or lack of personal care
  • unsafe living conditions or homelessness

Protect yourself

Staying informed and knowing your rights can help you protect yourself. Abuse happens when one person hurts or mistreats another. Remember:

  • Seniors are entitled to respect.
  • Seniors have a right to adequate care and attention.
  • Seniors have every right to live in safety and security.
  • There is no excuse for abuse.

Reach out

If you think you are experiencing any form of elder abuse, ask for help. This may include support and assistance from family members or friends, caregiver, health care providers, social services, seniors’ centres, police, legal professionals and/or members of faith communities.

Additional fact sheets

For more information and a list of resources in your province or territory, call 1-800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232) or visit Canada.ca/Seniors.

Information contained in this fact sheet is sourced from the Public Health Agency of Canada, National Clearing House on Family Violence website. Note that these are not legal definitions but are intended to help people working with older adults to recognize abuse of seniors.

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