Poor hygiene is having bad or non-existent self-care that can lead to a messy appearance and health concerns. Having poor hygiene can be an indicator of other problems, like neglect. Generally, hygiene concerns should be resolved as quickly as possible.
Depending on where someone lives, poor hygiene can mean different things. In nursing homes, poor hygiene may mean that seniors are not getting the personal care that they need. For seniors who live alone, poor hygiene could be a sign of depression, dementia, or the inability to care for themselves, according to AgingCare.
Signs of Self-Neglect
Poor personal hygiene is one of the signs of self-neglect. Without daily and consistent self-care, patients risk the development of other health problems by engaging in difficult behaviors. There are many signs of self-neglect, including:
- Lack of food: Food is an essential resource, so not having it available is a sign that even the most basic needs are not being met.
- Lack of shelter: Not having a safe shelter can be a sign that basic needs are not being provided for. Having a shelter is a basic concept that is instilled in everyone from the beginning. Abandoning this principle means that something may be wrong.
- Lack of clothing: Wearing clothes is important for protecting your skin and being social. Not having clothes available means that laundry is not being dealt with, which can be a sign that more help around the house is needed.
- Malnutrition: Malnutrition is a lack of nutrition caused by eating the wrong foods, or not enough food. This can lead to systemic health problems as there are not enough nutrients to support a healthy body.
- Dehydration: Dehydration is a lack of water. While it is possible to get water from food, more is usually needed to sustain a person. Prolonged dehydration can be dangerous and lead to problems like organ failure.
- Unsanitary living conditions: Unsanitary living conditions are unsafe because it creates a physical hazard and can lead to illnesses from bacteria.
- Hoarding: Hoarding is the over-collecting of items to the point where it disrupts normal living conditions. Many older people turn to hoarding for a variety of reasons, but hoarding can create unsafe living conditions.
- Refuses to bathe: Personal hygiene is an important part of staying healthy. Refusing to bathe may be a sign that other needs are not being provided for and that special attention is needed to ensure continued good health.
- Owning too many animals: While animals can be comforting, having too many can be a hazard. Animals need caring for and people who need assistance cannot provide the support that they need to avoid creating unsanitary conditions.
There are other ways that someone might neglect themselves. Some of these signs, such as malnutrition and dehydration, are also associated with neglect from other people, including caregivers. No matter the cause of poor hygiene, it should be resolved quickly to prevent long-term complications.
Mental Health Concerns
If someone is exhibiting signs of poor hygiene, it could possibly be a sign of mental health concerns, including depression or dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. If a loved one begins to exhibit signs that their needs are not being met, it is important to seek mental and medical health assistance as soon as possible. This will minimize the chances of developing other health problems or leading to accidents.
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Nursing Home Responsibilities
Nursing homes are obligated to provide a level of care consistent with their client agreements that also supports good health and wellness for patients. Meeting these requirements can take a large investment of time and resources by the nursing home staff. If a nursing home is understaffed, nursing home neglect becomes a major concern since there will not be enough staff members to support all of the patients.
Long-Term Effects of Poor Hygiene
Aside from the short-term mental, physical, and social impacts of poor hygiene, it can have long-term impacts as well. Many poor hygiene conditions lead to systemic diseases, including:
- Periodontal disease
These are just some of the ways that poor hygiene can mean there are longer-term impacts on a person’s life. For seniors living in nursing homes, poor hygiene can have fatal consequences. This can happen when recurrent infections and illnesses become difficult to treat.
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Contact a Nursing Home Neglect Attorney
Poor hygiene can be a strong indicator of nursing home neglect. If you suspect that a loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect, it is important that you take action. Not only will you protect your loved one from the adverse impacts of poor hygiene and neglect, you can help the other residents living in the same nursing home. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to speak with a member of our legal team to discuss your concerns and explore legal alternatives.
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