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Look for signs of self-neglect this holiday season

Human Services agency offers tips


The Department of Human Services wants to remind Oregonians to be aware of the signs of self-neglect and vulnerable adult abuse.

As family members come to town visiting friends, neighbors and loved ones this season, it is important to take the time to check in on the vulnerable and isolated people you may know to be sure they are taking care of themselves and are safe.

Self-neglect can be defined as the inability of a person to provide themselves with the necessities of daily living.

According to DHS officials, Adult Protective Services received more than 2,100 inquiries in 2011 related to concerns about self-neglect.

Indicators of self-neglect can be a lack of food and water, poor hygiene, dressing improperly, not taking critical medications and ignoring health problems. The person’s lack of understanding of their predicament leads to harm or endangerment.

“Self-neglect and elder abuse is underreported mostly because people do not know how to recognize the signs or indicators,” said Marie Cervantes, director of the DHS Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations.

“We want to raise awareness of self-neglect and ways to report it so that we may prevent it. Checking in on your loved ones as well as vulnerable neighbors and friends this holiday season is a way to make sure they are healthy and safe,” she said.

Last year, DHS Adult Protective Services received more than 28,000 referrals of vulnerable adult abuse. The most prevalent allegations were self-neglect, financial exploitation and neglect of care.

DHS Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations specialists work to resolve the immediate crisis, reduce risk and help to establish long-term stability.

If you believe abuse or neglect may be occurring, contact the Department of Human Services office in your area or your local law enforcement agency. If you are unsure whom to contact, call 1-800-232-3020.

For information on vulnerable abuse and for warning signs, visit oregon.gov/DHS/spwpd/abuse/index.shtml.