POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 63 Neglect Neglect is the refusal or failure to provide an older person with such life necessities as food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, personal safety, and other essentials included in an implied or agreed-upon responsibility to an older person. Neglect may also include failure of a person who has fiduciary/ management responsibilities to provide care for an older person (e.g., pay for necessary home care services) or the failure on the part of an in-home service provider to provide necessary care. The intentional withholding of the necessities of life is referred to as active neglect; and the unintentional failure to provide proper care is referred to as passive neglect. Passive neglect is often a result of lack of knowledge, experience, or ability to provide care. Signs and symptoms of neglect (whether active or passive) may include but are not limited to: • dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores, and poor personal hygiene; • unattended or untreated health problems; • hazardous or unsafe living condition/arrangements (e.g., improper wiring, no heat, or no running water); • unsanitary and unclean living conditions (e.g. dirt, fleas, lice on person, soiled bedding, fecal/urine smell, inadequate clothing); and • an older person’s report of being neglected. Self-neglect involves the behaviour of an older person that threatens her/his own health or safety. Selfneglect generally is observed in an older person as a refusal or failure to provide herself/himself with adequate food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medication, and safety precautions. The definition of self-neglect does not include a situation in which a mentally competent older person, who understands the consequences of her/his decisions, makes a conscious and voluntary decision to engage in acts that threaten her/his health or safety as a matter of personal choice. Abandonment is the desertion of an older person by an individual who has assumed responsibility for providing care for that person, or by someone with physical custody of an older adult. This is a form of neglect and can include deserting an older adult at a hospital, a nursing facility (or other similar institution), deserting an older adult at a shopping centre or other public location. 4. What role does culture play? Behaviours considered to be abusive in any given society can vary. Certain behaviours may not be considered inappropriate or a violation of rights. For example, if there are specific cultural expectations of children regarding the ownership of property or money belonging to the parent, this may be thought to be acceptable and proper. In some societies, abuse is not discussed or considered a concern. Most cultures regard disrespect and poor treatment of older persons to be unacceptable but there can be many complicating factors. It is important when dealing with any individual from another culture to learn about their beliefs, practices and understandings about aging and abuse. Consider these questions: What language do people understand? Do they nod in agreement or do they in fact realize what is being said? What are commonly accepted gender roles (men and women) of a particular culture? Does any cultural practice violate rights or prevent individuals from living as they wish? Is there a clear understanding of the Canadian concept of human rights? Are there differences in how families and generations relate to one another in a particular culture? What are attitudes regarding behaviours of various generations toward one another? Who makes decisions in the family? What role do older persons play in the family or in their community? Are there religious beliefs that influence how family members regard or treat one another? How does this cultural group respond to having resources or support provided from those in the dominant culture/ society? Do they look to their own cultural group to address concerns or seek support? About Senior Abuse . . . Continued Continued