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alzheimer's awareness month

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, Join Levin & Perconti by Going Purple

Today, more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In Illinois, more than 230,000 are battling the disease. When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, they will require more care, patience, and support as they grow older. The emotional burden and financial costs are overwhelming on those diagnosed, their caregivers, long-term care workers, and even the nation’s health care system. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that in 2021, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $355 billion. And by 2050, costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion.

As much as 75% of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will eventually become entirely dependent on someone else to care for them. At times, this support can only be found in a facility such as a nursing home or memory care center. Unfortunately, our experience has shown us that Alzheimer’s residents can be too easily ignored, abused, or neglected within these homes.

nursing home residents wandering away

With More Nursing Home Residents Vaccinated Against Coronavirus, Summer Season Calls Greater Attention to Wandering Risk

As Illinois continues to open up and more of the state’s population becomes vaccinated from COVID-19, including those over 65 living in skilled nursing facilities, it is expected that many individuals will want to spend time outdoors to help increase both activity and their mood. With that excitement should be a reminder that Chicago will also have its regular summer heatwaves and hot days – making outside temperatures dangerous for some. For the elderly who travel outdoors, take certain medications that alter the body’s ability to regulate temperatures, or are without the appropriate indoor cooling areas, many will negatively react to high-temperature exposures.

To identify any heat-related illness, nursing home staff should watch out for:

nursing homes daily covid-19 deaths

Illinois Nursing Home Residents Still Battling COVID-19 Challenges, Pandemic Concerns Remain High in Cook County

On Feb. 25, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 1,884 new coronavirus disease cases. And while 130,000 doses of vaccine were administered across the state, the greatest group of individuals at risk of deadly exposure remain the elderly and those living in nursing homes and long-term care and rehabilitation facilities. In the weekly report, IDPH also provided a list of counties with recent fatalities.

  • Adams County: 1

nursing home staff ignoring dementia symptoms

Identifying Dementia Warning Signs in Nursing Home Residents

Dementia denial from caregivers is real and dangerous. And unfortunately, many nursing home owners find it easier to have staff ignore the warning signs of declining cognitive abilities rather than provide additional support. Dementia diagnoses can also be missed when overworked, and poorly resourced care teams are not trained to evaluate struggling residents who require extra supervision and management of their daily activities, medications, and financial needs. Eventually, these residents need to move to a 24-hour assisted specialized environment to keep them safe, especially as their disease progresses into later stages. Family members and friends are typically the first to request help after noticing a loved one’s behavioral changes or one or more of the concerning events listed below.

#1. Early Stage Memory Loss

antipsychotic drugs causing further injury

Drug Overuse Is Prevalent in Nursing Home Residents with Alzheimer’s

Antipsychotic drugs are sometimes given to patients living in long-term care facilities to calm behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s or memory and behavior illnesses. They are also overly prescribed to residents who may be marked unruly or disruptive. Care staff are known to seek out specific medications to make these patients easier to handle, or quiet them and make them sleepy. Doctors may rely heavily on the recommendation of nurses and other care staff when making these medication decisions.

These drugs can be dangerous when used without a physician or family’s knowledge or consent, a haphazard tactic given that the mismanagement of these drugs has been known to cause sudden death. This practice, also known as chemical restraint, is unfortunately not new although Federal law prohibits the use of antipsychotic drugs or psychoactive drugs solely for the convenience of medical staff, and to sedate a patient. Additionally, consent must be given in order to use chemical restraints.

nursing home residents with dementia

Discussion Questions for Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of the aging process. For the millions of Americans who have been diagnosed with the debilitating memory and behavior illness – life is not easy. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, those with declining cognitive abilities impact an estimated 230,000 people in Illinois, which is expected to rise nearly 13 percent by 2025. Dementia, a form of Alzheimer’s, is one of the only top-10 causes of death in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed. While the issue is important every month, June is a special time to push greater education and raise support for Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.

  1. Is dementia the same as Alzheimer’s?

what are the stages and signs of dementia
An increase in those with declining cognitive abilities – such as dementia – affects an estimated 230,000 people in Illinois, according to the state’s Alzheimer’s Association. That number is expected to increase by 13 percent by 2025. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that can move slowly and requires unique support for individuals in each of the three stages: early (mild), middle (moderate), and late (severe). Many of the steps can overlap and symptoms become identified as dementia, which is the mental decline that accompanies Alzheimer’s patients.

  1. Early-stage Alzheimer’s (mild) 

In this stage, a person may still live independently, be employed, and have close relationships with friends and family. Their symptoms may not be as noticeable to them, but those close to them may start to identify early signs such as:

taking care of alzheimers

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Residents Can Struggle with Communication

According to the latest Alzheimer’s Association report, an increase in those with declining cognitive abilities impact an estimated 230,000 people in Illinois, a number that is expected to rise nearly 13 percent by 2025. Dementia, a form of Alzheimer’s, is one of the only top-10 causes of death in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed.

The majority of individuals diagnosed with dementia grow to rely on care provided by a nursing home to help manage their daily activities, medications, financial needs and assist them while residing in a safe environment. And as their dementia moves into later stages, help in communicating will also be required. The person may not be able to speak, or when they do, they may present lost in thought or provide confusing responses.

Levin Perconti - Alzheimer's and Wondering

Winter Weather Heightens Wandering & Elopement Risks for Dementia Residents

The Illinois Alzheimer’s Association says wandering – in extreme circumstances also called eloping – represents one of many behavioral problems occurring in 6 out of 10 people living with Alzheimer’s across the state. And cold weather events and drops in temperatures during the winter months pose new dangers to nursing home residents who have the likelihood to move about their environment without regard to their safety.

Residents battling Alzheimer’s must be cared for in alternative ways than residents who do not present a known threat to wander. Care workers must:

alzheimers awareness month

Learn About Alzheimer’s Disease and Assisted Living Centers

The month of June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of the aging process and for the estimated 5.8 million Americans who have been diagnosed with the debilitating memory and behavior illness – life is not easy. As these people with one of the most common types of dementia grow older, 75 percent will become entirely dependent on someone else to care for them. Much of the time, this support will be found in a facility where residents are easily ignored, abused, neglected, or tragically lost in a wandering or elopement incident.

The Alzheimer’s Association reports there are close to 2 million cases of elder abuse incidences each year for dementia residents living in community settings such as assisted living centers, homes that operate much different than federal and state regulated nursing facilities. There are 291 assisted living centers identified by the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) that provide care to those with Alzheimer’s or dementia in Illinois. Two of these facilities are Brookdale Senior Living Centers located at Brookdale Orland Park and Brookdale Urbana. Brookdale is one of the largest owners and operators of senior living facilities in the U.S. Owners of these types of large, financially driven organizations are often found guilty of putting profits over resident and patient care. Brookdale’s presence in Illinois is significant, as it was the focus of a 2018 New York Times feature on assisted living facilities and dementia and Alzheimer’s care.

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