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What is self-neglect?

Self-neglect is when a person does not look after themselves fully. This may be a choice they make, or because they are ill or unable. It can also be a sign that something else is going wrong in their life.

If the self-neglect makes the person unwell, or is impacting on the health and wellbeing of others, it is important to get help.

Who is at risk of self-neglect?

Some adults may be more at risk of self-neglect. Those at greater risk include the elderly, people with physical or sensory impairments, people with learning disabilities, people living with severe illnesses, dementia or confusion, or people living with mental ill health.

Signs could include:

In the home:

  • Having no food in the home, or unsuitable food
  • Having no heating in cold weather
  • Not cleaning their home leading to infestations of insects or other animals¬†
  • Not allowing people to make repairs when it is unsafe
  • Not allowing important people access e.g. landlord, water, gas or electric workers, health or care workers etc.
  • Not disposing of rubbish or hoarding items or animals

About the person:

  • Not washing or looking after themselves
  • Wearing inappropriate, dirty, soiled or torn clothing
  • Not having necessary medical aids e.g. glasses, hearing aids, walking frames
  • Refusing medication or treatment which leads to ill health
  • Refusing to engage with support


Keeping Adults Safe has produced a useful leaflet that provides information around self-neglect and what to look out for.

Download the KBSP self-neglect leaflet