Seniors and Squalor

Competency, Autonomy, and the Mistake of Forced Intervention

by Lisa Johnson


As the baby boomer generation ages, the population of mentally competent seniors suffering from self-neglect continues to grow.

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Cover image for Seniors and Squalor

October 2018


Pages 202
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Current Events and Issues/Society
  Health & Wellness/Fitness, Nutrition, and Healthy Living

This book will help readers to better understand and address a strange social phenomenon: the apparent choice by some seniors to live in squalor.

Seniors and Squalor examines the widespread and growing phenomenon of mentally competent senior citizens living in self-imposed squalor and refusing help, whether from health care professionals, government, or family. At this juncture of medicine and law, many families have experienced frustration, embarrassment, and heartbreak. The book also explores associated ethical questions, arguing that society can address the problem while respecting individual legal autonomy.

For the theorist, this work provides the first in-depth treatment of legal and political theory questions undergirding the issue of self-neglect by seniors. It also underscores the importance of limited government, the necessity of granting American citizens their individual rights, and the critical need to stop classifying self-neglect as abuse.

This is an ideal read for graduate and undergraduate students, scholars, practitioners of health care and geriatrics, social workers, and lawyers. Most importantly, this book will appeal to those directly affected by the problem—family, friends, and social work professionals—by giving them a broader understanding of this complex social issue and how to best respond to it.


  • Incorporates the latest research concerning laws and medical classifications
  • Offers the first in-depth treatment of legal and political theory questions underlying the issue of self-neglect by senior citizens
  • Includes policy approaches crafted to address the issue at a societal level
  • Raises ethical questions based in the role of government in solving social problems
Author Info

Lisa Johnson, PhD, JD, is professor at the University of Puget Sound School of Business and Leadership, where she teaches courses in law and legal studies. She is a member of the Washington and Oregon State Bar associations. She is author of Power, Knowledge, Animals, coauthor of Law, Cultural Diversity, and Criminal Justice (with C. Carr), and author of several shorter pieces in legal and political theory.

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Other Titles of Interest

Baby Boomers and Popular Culture cover imageAging with a Plan cover imageHandbook of Families and Aging, 2nd Edition cover image
Thriving in Retirement cover imageThe Praeger Handbook of Mental Health and the Aging Community cover imageGerontology cover image

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