Predictor of Negligence in Comunity Dwelling Elders
AmJ Psychiatry 2002; 159:1724—1730


The importance of early dianosis of depression in senior citizens who are overly independent and live alone.

Abrams, M.D.

Mark Lachs, M.D., M.P.H.

Gail McAvay, Ph.D., M.S.

DenisJ. Keohane, M.D., M.S.

Martha L. Bruce, Ph.D


The study assessed the contribution of depressive symptoms and cognitive impairment to the prediction of self-neglect in elderly persons living in the community.


Data were drawn from the New Haven Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly cohort, which included 2,812 community residents age 65 years and older in 1982. The principal outcome examined was the incidence of self-neglect, corroborated by the state’s investigation, during 9 years of follow-up (1982—1991).


Among the 2,161 subjects included in the analysis, 92 corroborated cases of self-neglect occurred from 1982 to 1991. The prevalence of clinically significant depressive symptoms at baseline (score _1 6 on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale [CES-D]) was 15.4%, and the prevalence of clinically significant cognitive impairment (four or more errors on the Pfeiffer Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire) was 7.5%. Subjects with clinically significant depressive symptoms and/or cognitive impairment were more likely than others to experience self-neglect. Clinically significant depressive symptoms and cognitive impairment remained significant predictors of self-neglect in a multivariate model that included age, gender, race, and income. A final model for self-neglect constructed with stepwise selection of risk factors included depressive symptoms and cognitive impairment, as well as male gender, older age, income less than $5,000 per year, living alone, history of hip fracture, and history of stroke.


Elderly individuals living in the community who experience clinically significant depressive symptoms and/or cognitive impairment may be at risk for the development of self-neglect and may become candidates for intervention.



“Under the care of Leo J. Borrell, M.D. since December 2001, I have seen a remarkable improvement in my mother’s condition. She is responding dramatically to the new regiment Dr. Borrell has prescribed”

- Beth Rose