Articles Posted in Alzheimer’s

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.

It’s one of the certainties of dementia: creating a calm environment for those suffering with the disease can help ease symptoms. Here in the U.S., however, the tradition has been to medicate nursing home residents with the disease, a confusing tactic given that limited activity and isolation have been shown to contribute to the advancement of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Nursing homes in the Netherlands have been taking an alternative approach to treating dementia patients, using visual and sensory stimulation, as well as social interactions, to relax and lift the moods of their residents.

Bars, Beach Rooms, Bus Stops and Shared Experiences: Alternative Dementia Treatment

According to the New York Times, researchers began considering alternative treatments to treating dementia patients when they realized the growing number of Dutch senior citizens suffering from the disease. Nearly 8.5% of the country’s residents over 64 have dementia, with that number expected to double within 7 years.

Last year, a 75 year old man suffering from Alzheimer’s was aggressively arrested and pepper sprayed after he was discovered wandering within the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, NJ. He was left blind as a result of the pepper spray and spent the last 10 months of his life never again able to see his daughters. According to a lawsuit filed this month in Passaic County court, Angel Pantoja was freely roaming the halls at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehab, where he was a resident. For unknown reasons, nursing home staff alerted local police that a resident was on the loose within the facility, exaggerating his behavioral and health status enough to lead police to believe that forceful arrest measures were necessary. When the responding officer came across Mr. Pantoja in a hallway, they claimed he was carrying an unidentified weapon and advancing towards the officer, justifying his use of pepper spray. The pepper spray blinded him, a pre-arrest tactic that the lawyer for his estate deemed unnecessary. As a result, Mr. Pantoja was hospitalized and was blind until he died 10 months later. He was also arrested and charged with assault, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. The responding officer said in a statement that he was led to believe that Mr. Pantoja was dangerous because the facility told him Mr. Pantoja had stabbed one of his own daughters in the eye, a claim his daughter denies.

While family acknowledges that the pepper spray was not Mr. Pantoja’s cause of death, the complaint filed by his family against both the local police and the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehab says they are seeking damages for their father having to “sustain mental anguish, distress and damage. [He] was never able to open his eyes again and was not able to see his daughters in his time of passing.”

Local Police Trained to Handle Situations Involving Those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

We’d like to share some upcoming Alzheimer’s Association events and activities that are specifically intended for caregivers of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia.

All conferences and events listed below are located in the Chicago-area or other Illinois city and are hosted by the Greater Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

  1.  The Savvy Caregiver: A 2 hour per week, 6 week FREE course designed to give confidence and knowledge to those taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s or age-related dementia. Upcoming courses take place in Rockford, Bloomington, Joliet, Eureka, Crystal Lake, and Peoria. For more information or to register, please visit the Alzheimer’s Association – Greater Illinois Chapter website here. 

Levin-Perconti-Dementia-Abuse-Blog-PicToday, an estimated 5.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with the tragic memory, thinking and behavior disease, Alzheimer’s – one of the most common forms of dementia. As these people age, 75 percent of them will be admitted to a nursing home by their 80th birthday and fully dependent on someone else to care for them. Unfortunately, there are too many times when these patients are abused. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association reports there are approximately 1 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 adult protective services officials and long-term care ombudsman will say the true incident rates are likely to be much higher though since this abuse can come in many different ways as defined by the Alzheimer’s Association:

  • Physical: causing physical pain or injury
  • Emotional: verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment and intimidation

Nursing home care is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. While all those at these facilities need some form of skilled nursing care, there are individualized needs for each resident that must be taken into account. Of course, that is why each resident must be evaluated individually to identify certain risks. How likely is this resident to suffer an injury during a fall? Is wandering a risk? How many risks are present with prolonged elopement? Do they have cognitive challenges that must be taken into account? These and other issues are a standard part of proper nursing home care.

That individual analysis obviously would factor in whether or not a resident is suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementias. The lawyers at our firm work on many cases where residents with dementia were not handled properly, leading to serious accidents, attacks, and neglect. Complex injury and even death have resulted from these mistakes.

Challenges of Dementia Care

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