Elder self-neglect and hospitalization: Findings from the Chicago health and aging project

Xinqi Dong*, Melissa A. Simon, Denis Evans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Objectives To quantify the relation between reported elder self-neglect and rate of hospitalization in a community population of older adults. Design Prospective population-based study. Setting Geographically defined community in Chicago. Participants Community dwelling older adults who participated in the Chicago Health and Aging Project. One thousand one hundred sixty-five of the 6,864 participants in the Chicago Health and Aging Project was reported to social services agency for suspected elder self-neglect. Measurements The primary predictor was elder self-neglect reported to social services agency. The outcome of interest was the annual rate of hospitalization, obtained from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Poisson regression models were used to assess these longitudinal relationships. Results The average annual rate of hospitalization was 0.6 ± 1.3 for participants without elder self-neglect and 1.8 ± 3.2 for those with reported elder self-neglect. After adjusting for sociodemographic and socioeconomic characteristics, medical commorbidities, and cognitive and physical function, older adults who neglected themselves had significantly higher rate of hospitalization (rate ratio = 1.47, 95% confidence interval = 1.39-1.55). Greater severity of self-neglect (mild: standardized parameter estimate (PE) = 0.24, standard error (0.05); moderate: PE = 0.45 (0.03); severe: PE = 0.54, (0.11), all P <.001) was associated with higher annual rates of hospitalization after adjusting for the same confounders. Interaction term analyses suggest that medical conditions, cognitive impairment, and physical disability did not mediate the significant relationship between self-neglect and hospitalization. Conclusion Reported elder self-neglect was associated with higher rates of hospitalization in this community population. Greater severity of self-neglect was associated with a greater rate of hospitalization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-209
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • elder self-neglect
  • health services utilization
  • population-based study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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