Self-neglect entails neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding.  It is also defined as the inability (intentional or unintentional) to maintain a socially and culturally accepted standard of self-care with the potential for serious consequences to the health and wellbeing of the individual and sometimes to their community.


Indicators of self-neglect may be:

  • living in very unclean, sometimes verminous, circumstances;
  • poor self-care leading to a decline in personal hygiene;
  • poor nutrition;
  • poor healing/sores;
  • poorly maintained clothing;
  • isolation;
  • failure to take medication;
  • hoarding;
  • neglecting household maintenance;
  • portraying eccentric behaviour/lifestyles;


NOTE: Poor environments and personal hygiene may be a matter of personal or lifestyle choice or other issues such as insufficient income.


Professionals may be interested in the presentation below given at the Adult Safeguarding: Changes, Challenges and Opportunities Conference, on 12th June 2015 in Plymouth. The presentation was given by Dr David Orr (University of Sussex) and draws on research he has conducted as well as that carried out by Professor Suzy Braye (University of Sussex) and Professor Michael Preston-Shoot (University of Bedfordshire).

PowerPoint Presentation – Self-Neglect: Evidence Base and Implications for Practice