Elder self neglect: A geriatric syndrome or a life course story?

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Aims: To explore the unique aspects of the elder self-neglect phenomenon and to achieve phenomenological understanding of self-neglect through the eyes of self-neglecting elders. Method: A qualitative study based on a sample of 16 self-neglecting elders. Data collection was performed through in-depth semi-structured interviews, followed by content analysis. Findings: Four major themes emerged from the older participants: "I was unlucky:" a life course of suffering; "That's the way it is:" self-neglect as a routine of life; "They tell me that I'm disabled:" old age as exposing situations of self-neglect; "My empire:" how do I perceive my old age. Conclusions: Self-neglect is not necessarily an issue of old age, but is related to the person's life history. Self-neglect as a way of life accompanied the participants into old age, but it was not originated or created there. The overall message of the self-neglecting elders was to see them as human beings and not as old neglected people; not to label them as an "age syndrome" but to perceive them in a holistic and humanistic manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-118
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the Maccabi Institute for Health Services Research , Maccabi Healthcare Services, Israel, for funding this research.


  • Elder abuse
  • Elder neglect
  • Mistreatment
  • Neglect
  • Self neglect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy


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