What is self harm by an at-risk adult?

Self harm by at-risk adults falls into two categories:


Self-abuse is the infliction of injury to the adult by the adult’s own hand or volition. Signs are:

  • Head injuries, hair loss from pulling, self-inflicted cuts or bruises


Self-neglect occurs when an at-risk adult cannot or does not care for himself or herself. Choice of lifestyle, by itself, is not proof of self-neglect. Some signs of self-neglect are:

  • Non-compliance with or inability to take medicines as prescribed

  • Malnutrition and/or dehydration

  • Inadequate or inappropriate diet

  • Unclean physical appearance, soiled clothing, decayed teeth, broken glasses, overgrown nails

  • Unsanitary conditions in the home

  • Wandering or getting lost

  • Confusion, disorientation, or memory impairment

    Source:  Colorado Department of Human Services