What is Self-Neglect?
The Vermont Association of Area Agencies on Aging had been tasked with taking on the investigation of referrals of self-neglect by the state legislature a couple of years ago. But do we all understand what the term “self-neglect” means?
Nationally, “self-neglect” is a general term used to describe a vulnerable adult living in a way that puts their health, safety, or well being at risk. Prioritizing self-determination, Vermont’s definition of self-neglect further specifies that the behaviors in question must be the result of diminished capacity related to a medical or behavioral health issue.
Specifically, Vermont defines “self-neglect” to mean: “An adult’s inability, due to physical or mental impairment or diminished capacity, to perform essential self-care tasks including (i) obtaining essential food, clothing, shelter, and medical care; (ii) obtaining goods and services necessary to maintain physical health, mental health, or general safety; or (iii) managing one’s own financial affairs.”
Self-neglect is not in itself a diagnosis, but rather a state of being and collection of behaviors that can be caused by any number and combination of social and medical risk factors. An individual could be considered self-neglecting for a short period of time or decades. Because each individual case of self-neglect is unique, successful interventions must be tailored to the individual, taking into account their personal preferences, histories, medical diagnoses, resources, and social networks. Whether an intervention is successful, and how quickly progress can be made, often depends on the individual’s willingness to engage with a professional(s).
Here at Senior Solutions, building a relationship of trust and respect with the older adult is the gateway to understanding how the self-neglect developed. Treating each referral with dignity and as a unique situation, we can learn how to support each individual in their abilities to overcome some of the challenges that may have led to their self-neglecting acquired habits.
September is National Senior Center Month
The theme for 2022 is “Strengthening Community Connections.” Southeastern Vermont is fortunate to have many active senior centers. These are welcoming local places where we can go to enjoy social gatherings for interesting programs, exercise classes, informative lectures, games, a nice community meal, art and craft groups, and so much more. We derive many benefits at our senior centers: health tips and services, insurance information, and a dedication to stimulating us and helping us remain active as we progress along life’s path. The following is a list of Senior Centers in the area and their phone numbers:
Bellows Falls: 802-463-3907
New Staff Location in Wilmington
Please stop in and visit us at 18 Beaver Street in the old firehouse in Wilmington, Vt. As of Aug. 11, 2022 we have office space thanks to the Town of Wilmington where a Senior Solutions staff member is available on every second and fourth Thursday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. to assist you with 3SquaresVT food benefits, Seasonal Fuel Assistance applications, Meals on Wheels intakes, and other benefits. Senior Solutions is planning Tai Chi classes, nutritional demonstrations, and Medicare Open Enrollment information classes in the coming months. The town is encouraging other organizations to offer health and wellness services in the future. This promises to serve the Deerfield Valley in a very positive way.