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Protect Texas Adults from Neglect

What Is Neglect?

Neglect can include a lack of necessities such as food, clean water, safe shelter, clean clothing, good hygiene, and essential medical care. Neglect may result from a caregiver not providing necessary care or it can be self-neglect. More than half of all cases reported to APS involve neglect. Most of those are self-neglect. Adults or adults with disabilities are at a higher risk of neglect because they depend on others.

Below are tips that can help you determine if someone you know might be in a state of neglect. If the adult is being neglected, talk to him or her about their needs and see if you or others can help. If you cannot provide the necessary help, learn more about reporting the situation.

APS helps vulnerable adults age 65 or older.

Signs of Neglect

Neglect may not always be obvious, but there are signs to look for. A sign can be as small as a neighbor no longer coming outside or letting his or her yard get overgrown. Or it can be more serious, such as an older relative losing a lot of weight or not bathing. Signs of neglect can be very similar whether they are due to self-neglect or neglect by a family member or caregiver.

Signs of neglect can include:

  • Not taking medication correctly or refusing to take it.
  • Confusion.
  • An extremely dirty living area.
  • Lack of clean clothes.
  • Lack of personal hygiene.
  • Weight loss or malnutrition.
  • Lack of food, water, utilities, or basic supplies.
  • Lack of medical or dental care.


We often find people who have been left on their own with no family member or caregiver to help them. Sometimes this results in poor living conditions because of the person's inability to clean, take out trash, manage medications, or even pay bills. Adults who are dealing with self-neglect may feel especially alone and not realize they are in a state of neglect.

Self-neglect happens for a variety of reasons. A person might be depressed from being isolated, losing a loved one, abusing alcohol or other substances, or having a physical illness or mental condition such as dementia or Alzheimer's.

We often see hoarding behaviors as severe cases of self-neglect. Hoarding can make a living space so cluttered that sinks, the stove, and countertops are unusable. Hoarders often have areas filled with trash and dirty dishes and won't allow visitors into their homes.

APS helps vulnerable adults who face abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

Caregiver neglect:

The risk of neglect increases when you depend on another person to take care of you. Sadly, there are times when a family member or other caregiver fails to meet the needs of the person in need. Caregivers can be paid or unpaid. The signs of caregiver neglect and self-neglect can be the same, so it's important to know who is responsible for the care.

Caregivers can face their own issues as they deal with the stress of meeting another person's daily needs. An adult with middle or late-stage Alzheimer's can have behavior that's increasingly difficult to manage, including physical and verbal aggression. This could lead to the caregiver feeling overwhelmed and reacting in a way that puts the client at risk of harm.

Signs of caregiver-neglect:

  • Prevents the adult in care from speaking to or seeing others.
  • Shows anger or indifference toward the adult in care.
  • Has a history of substance abuse, criminal behavior, or family violence.
  • Gives conflicting accounts of incidents.
  • Talks like the person in care is a burden.
Texas law requires that suspected cases of abuse be reported.

Take action quickly if you suspect a vulnerable adult is suffering from neglect. Report it by calling the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.

Learn more about when to report

Extreme weather exposure:

Texas weather can be extreme. We have months of 100-degree days and freezes that shut down cities. It can be deadly when vulnerable adults lack indoor cooling or heating. They can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke, and frostbite and hypothermia. Part of APS's job is to help protect vulnerable adults from the hazards of Texas weather.

If you know of vulnerable adults without access to heating or air conditioning, check on them a few times a day. If possible, take them to an air-conditioned location. Be sure they have a fan to help keep cool. If you would like to donate a fan, visit the Texas DFPS Get Involved page.

Older adults are often at greater risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Knowing the signs can help keep them safe.

Read Michael's Story of Self-Neglect

Signs of heat exhaustion can include:

  • Heavy sweating.
  • No sweating at all.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Tiredness.
  • Weakness.
  • Dizziness or fainting.
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Pale, cool, or moist skin.

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