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Can Assisted Living Facilities Adequately Care For Alzheimer’s Patients?

Picture-182Is it fair to expect an assisted living facility– loosely regulated entities that help residents with daily living activities to care for a person with Alzheimer’s?

Assisted living facilities (ALF’s) are intended to provide a semi-structured environment to (primarily) elderly group.  Meals are prepared and staff are intended to provide residents with daily living activities.  Unlike nursing homes, ALF’s are not intended to provide skilled nursing care.

In the case of Alzheimer’s patients, many ALF’s accept these people despite the fact that many offer no specialized care for them.  Is this a case of corporate greed putting its quest for profits ahead of providing necessary care to its residents?

In the case of Ruby Larson (an Alzheimer’s patient), I think the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.  On July 23, 2007 Larson wandered from Pheasant Pointe Retirement and Assisted Living Residence — never to be heard from again.  Last year a judge declared Larson to be legally dead as the search for her was fruitless.

Ms. Larson, 75, was admitted to Pheasant Pointe in May, 2007 suffering from dementia, memory loss, and disorientation.  During the three months Larson was a patient at Pheasant Pointe, she wandered from the facility three separate times.

Larson’s family filed a lawsuit against Pheasant Point and its parent company, Spectrum Retirement Communities of Oregon claiming the staff failed to properly supervise Larson and that the companies should have known that Ms. Larson required care only a specialized Alzheimer’s care unit could provide.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s patients may encounter many problems while living in an assisted living environment.  Of course, depending on the individual facility, the levels of care may be different.  But most ALF’s are horribly ill-equipped to care for Alzheimer’s patient who typically require great care with meals, getting about, re-direction, medication as well as maximum assistance with daily living.

If a facility is unable to provide the level of care required, the facility should advise the family.  Too often, ALF’s never mention to the family that their loved one may be better off in a nursing home or alternative facility that specialized in Alzheimer’s care.

Read more about this lawsuit against an assisted living facility here.

For assistance with an Oklahoma nursing home abuse matter, see our reference page here.

 

Related Nursing Homes Abuse Blog Entries

The Truth Revealed: Nursing Home Tries To Cover-up Fact That Resident Choked To Death On Tuna Sandwich 

Nursing Homes For Alzheimer’s Patients. What To Look For?

Woman Dies From Hypothermia After Wandering From Assisted Living Facility 

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  • The ability of assisted living to care for Alzheimer’s disease depends on two key factors – the needs of the resident and the ability of the assisted living community to meet those needs. If a person is an elopement risk or if they are at a point where specialized activity-based programming will be of benefit, certainly a specialized Alzheimer’s program is most appropriate. This can fall under a special assisted living license and set of regulations, which provides the opportunity for the resident who does not require skilled nursing care to live in a much more comfortable residential environment than in a nursing home. The program should consist of much more than a wander guard system or being behind a locked door. Staff should be specially trained, the environment – apartments and community areas should be specially designed, specialized group and individual activities should be available throughout the day. Often even the way food is prepared and served is designed around the special needs of residents with Alzheimer’s disease. But by no means should every person with Alzheimer’s disease be locked behind closed doors in a special Memory Care unit. For those who need reminders, and assistance if necessary, to take their medications, to come to meals and activities or need redirection about time of day or how to get to and from their apartment, assisted living communities can be a wonderful alternative to struggling alone at home or to living a nursing home.

  • Barb Miller

    I live in an Assisted Living Facility and was told that if any of the residents wandered around inside or outside they could not be stopped. It’s different in an Alzheimer Unit and a nursing home. They can have something put on their ankles to sound an alarm if they try to go out any doors.
    I feel there was not good communication between the facility and Ruby Larson’s familey. She definetly belonged in an Alzheimer facility.

  • This only makes me more determined to make it work at home but I’m looking to find other families who are dealing with similar issues. We’re only at the early stages as yet but even so it’s important to keep in mind that alternatives are few and far between.
    Best wishes

  • char

    I have managed Alzheimer’s care facilities under assisted living and I am sad to say they do not deliver what they tell the families they can do. It is corporate greed but also the trickle down effect of money cut backs.
    The front line staff who need to most training and who there should be more of to provide care for patients just don’t get what they need. Staff in most cases do not know a patients service plan and what it holds, These service plans are required by state rules and regulations to better serve patients, however if the staff don’t read them what good are they?
    I have found that the most important thing to most facilities is how they look. The Marketer(about the same as a used car salesman) spit shines before a tour and then procedes to tell families all they will get for the huge fee they will pay. Once the trap is set the marketer moves on to the next family. I have left the industry for these reasons and many more.

  • What happened to Ms. Larson is horrific! I work in residential assisted living for persons with Alzheimer’s/Dementia. This family was obviously bamboozled. Alzheimer/dementia care needs to be provided in a small environment with knowledgable staffing about the disease and redirection techniques. They almost have to act as “detectives” in figuring out what works for each individual and what does not. Text book smart is not the same as experience. This is where the management comes into full play. How sad for the Larson Family! Assisted living in my state requries a special care disclosure of what makes a specialized memory care facility stand out from the rest. These are people, they did not ask for this disease. Too many times (from my experience) direct care staff in nursing facilities are not monitored close enough. You can tell who is there for the paycheck and who really has a heart for this population.

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