Seniors who neglect themselves are six times more likely to die, researchers find

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Self-neglect among the elderly has been linked to a sixfold increase in the likelihood of death, according to a recent report.

Despite being commonly associated with dementia, self-neglect can affect more cognitively capable seniors, as well, researchers from Rush University in Chicago say. The study appears in the August 5 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. In their study of 9,138 elderly Chicago residents, researchers discovered 1,544 instances of self-neglect. They also found 113 reports of elder abuse, which they identified as being associated with twice the risk of death. An editorial appearing in the same journal as this report points out that self-neglect is the top reason seniors are referred to protective custody.

Those seniors who suffered self-neglect were 5.82 times more likely to die within one year of the report of self-neglect than seniors who were able to look after themselves, according to the report. Signs of self-neglect can include changes in weight, hygiene, or worsening medical conditions, report authors say.