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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.

nursing home dementia

7 Risk Factors That Increase Dementia Deaths in Nursing Homes

Unfortunately, dementia, a form of Alzheimer’s, is “one of the only top-10 cause of death in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed,” says the Alzheimer’s Association. A growing majority of these individuals depend on care provided by others to manage their daily activities, medications, financial needs, and to keep them in safe environments and reside in nursing homes.

People with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease may be elderly, frail, and naturally prone to higher personal injury rates, infection, or falls and be at a higher risk of dying contributed to several known risk factors:

The most profitable area of real estate right now isn’t hotels, trendy restaurants, or even high rise living. For a real estate investor, the safest return on investment is putting money into senior living facilities. According to the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries, in the past 10 years the highest property returns have been on senior housing developments.


Alzheimer’s Rates Expected to Skyrocket

The assisted living housing market, especially those properties with designated memory care facilities, is growing at a rapid pace, partly to keep up with the increasing number of seniors expected to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Today, an estimated 5.7 people are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, the Alzheimer’s Association expects that number to jump to 14 million, with 1 American developing Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds. The disease is an epidemic and savvy real estate investors are aware that putting their money into senior housing is likely to yield great financial returns.

nursing home alzheimers

Alzheimer’s Residents More Likely to Wander and Elope

For the estimated 5.5 million Americans who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a debilitating memory and mental behavior disease – life is not easy. And as these people with one of the most common types of dementia age, 75 percent of them will be admitted to a nursing home by their 80th birthday and become fully dependent on someone else to care for them. Unfortunately, there are too many times when these residents are ignored, abused or tragically lost in a wandering or elopement incident. In fact, 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 nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Most long-term care ombudsman will say the true incident rates are likely to be much higher though since abuse can come in many different ways including neglect.

Wandering and elopement represent some of the many behavioral problems triggered by nursing home neglect occurring in residents with the Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In fact, six out of 10 people with dementia will wander and aimlessly move about within the facility or grounds without regard of their personal safety. For a better understanding of this phenomena, the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners (NCCDP) has identified several different reasons for wandering in nursing homes as well as the different types of wandering such as environmentally cued wandering, recreational wandering, agitated purposeful wandering, fantasy and reminiscent wandering, and elopement. Elopement is the most dangerous type of wandering and occurs when a patient attempts to completely leave the nursing home and wander outside. Patients are often seriously hurt or killed during this type of wandering.

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