Demand for Dementia Care Puts Residents at Risk
Dementia care units inside for-profit assisted living facilities charge high fees and make a lot of money. As a result, many new dementia units continue to be built. Unfortunately, this focus on profit often causes the quality of patient care to lag behind. When there are not enough staff members or employees are improperly trained, dementia patients suffer a higher risk of serious injuries or death.
Assisted Living Is Changing
An increasing percentage of residents in assisted living facilities have dementia. One estimate suggests dementia patients comprise one-quarter of all residents. Some, but not all, live in special units within the facilities, called memory care units, which are specifically designed for dementia patients.
Assisted Living Facilities Are Less Regulated Than Nursing Homes
Nursing homes are highly regulated by federal and state laws. Assisted living facilities are not as tightly regulated, even though assisted living residents are becoming more like nursing home residents. They are older than they used to be with half now older than 84 years old. They also experience more health issues than assisted living residents in the past.
Also, there is less government oversight of assisted living facilities, including fewer inspections and lower fines for violations.
Dementia Care in Assisted Living Facilities Is Expensive
The average cost for a patient in an assisted living memory care unit is $6,472 per month. These facilities are very profitable. Investors get a higher rate of return than they would in other types of residences for seniors.
Not Enough Qualified Staff
When profits are the top priority, facilities sometimes cut corners on staffing. Staff shortages create serious problems. Patients may wander away. In one horrific case, a 90-year-old dementia patient walked away from the facility where she was living. No one noticed she was missing for seven hours. By that time, she had been eaten by an alligator in a pond behind the facility.
When staffing is inadequate, patients may not be protected from other patients who are aggressive. They may be given inappropriate medication or they may have a higher risk of falls. When this happens, it’s time to contact an elder abuse attorney.
An Elder Abuse Attorney Can Help
When dementia patients are neglected or not given the proper care, that’s a form of abuse. If you have a loved one with dementia and have any concerns about the quality of his or her care, contact an elder abuse attorney at Garcia & Artigliere for a free consultation.