The prevalence of elder self-neglect in a community-dwelling population: Hoarding, hygiene, and environmental hazards

Xinqi Dong, Melissa A. Simon, Laura Mosqueda, Denis A. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Scopus citations


Objectives: To examine the prevalence of self-neglect and its specific behaviors in a community-dwelling population of older adults. Method: A population-based cohort study conducted between 2007 and 2010 rated participant's personal and home environment, particularly with regard to hoarding, personal hygiene, house in need of repair, unsanitary conditions, and inadequate utility. Prevalence estimates were presented across health-related variables of health status, physical function, and cognitive function. Results: There were 4,627 older adults (1,645 men and 2,982 women). Prevalence of self-neglect in older adults increased with lower health status in both men (4.7% in very good/excellent health, 7.9% in good health, and 14.9% in fair/poor health) and women (4.5% in very good/excellent health, 7.9% in good health, and 10.6% in fair/poor health). For those with ≥3 Katz impairments, the prevalence of self-neglect in older adults was 12.8% in men and 13.8% in women. For those with MMSE (Mini-Mental State Examination) ≤20, the prevalence of self-neglect in older adults was 18.8% in men and 13.6% in women. Discussion: Self-neglect was clearly prevalent among older adults, especially among those with lower health status and physical and cognitive function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-524
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of aging and health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


  • aging
  • environmental hazards
  • hoarding
  • hygiene
  • population-based study
  • self-neglect
  • squalor

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