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Keywords:

  • atonomy;
  • ethics;
  • self-neglect

Self-neglect is a serious and growing problem among older adults. A 2004 survey from Adult Protective Services (APS) showed that adults age 60 or older were named in 85,000 reports of self-neglect from 21 states (Naik, Lai, Kunik, & Dyer, 2008; Teaster, Dugar, Mendiondo, Abner, & Cecil, 2006). Although rehabilitation nurses are obligated to uphold the autonomy of older adults and strengthen their independence, dilemmas result when people's poor health behaviors put them or others at risk for negative consequences. When making decisions about nursing actions related to self-neglecting elderly people, the basic principles of autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and capacity must be considered. The purpose of this article is to discuss major ethical perspectives related to self-neglect among older adults.