Neglect is a failure by a caregiver to provide the older adult with basic needs, comforts, services or assistance. These include food, shelter, medical care, personal hygiene products, heat or air conditioning.

Such neglect is a crime and should be reported to the police or the Los Angeles County Elder Abuse Hotline at (877) 4-R-SENIORS ((877) 477-3646).

Adult children, especially those with histories of mental illness, substance abuse or criminal activity, may be inclined to neglect their elder parents. It is prudent to avoid placing an older adult’s care in the hands of an adult child with these types of problems.

Warning Signs

  • The older adult seems to be isolated by a caretaker and unable to speak freely or spend time with others.

  • The older adult appears unwashed, unkempt, poorly groomed or wears soiled, ill-fitting or inappropriate clothing.

  • The older adult appears to be dehydrated or malnourished.

  • There is an unusual or sudden weight loss.

  • The person does not have necessities, including medications, eyeglasses, dentures, prostheses, hearing aids, canes, walkers or other critical items.


  • Visit the older adult unexpectedly to see the quality of their care when the caregiver is not expecting a guest.

  • If hiring an unlicensed caretaker to provide home care, ask for multiple references and check them carefully.

  • Before placing an older adult in a nursing home or care facility or hiring a licensed professional to provide home care, visit our Safe Older Adult Care Resources page.

Another form of neglect is self-neglect. Self-neglect is the inability of an elder who does not have a caretaker to provide for themselves. Self-neglect is not a crime. Help may be sought through the Elder Abuse Hotline at (877) 4-R-SENIORS ((877) 477-3646).