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Frightening Facts About Assisted Living

Home Care San Diego Senior Couple with Caregiver

This article discusses the frightening facts about assisted living facilities. Assisted living facilities are often promoted as cost-effective long-term accommodation options for seniors who can no longer take care of themselves.   The businesses that promote assisted living say their facilities provide a wide range of services that older people need including meals, laundry, cleaning services, activities and social interaction.

Unfortunately, assisted living facilities have their downsides.  They are very expensive and can have hidden charges for services that most people assume are free.  Additionally, these facilities may be incapable of providing the care necessary for a loved one with certain health conditions like dementia.

There has been a number of shocking stories involving seniors with dementia being ignored while living at assisted living facilities.  In some cases, the staff simply lacked the training to spot health problems of residents with dementia and other health conditions.

Because some seniors cannot communicate well, their health needs aren’t always met and they pass away well before their time.  These cases often lead to legal action being taken against assisted living facilities by outraged and grieving relatives of the deceased.

If you are considering placing an aging parent into one of these facilities, it is important that you learn what level of care the facility provides.  It is also important that you take some precautions to ensure that level of care is maintained during your parent’s stay.  Here are some tips to help you make sure your parent is cared for while in one of these facilities.

Learn the protocols for tracking patients

If you have a parent who struggles to communicate with other people, make sure the facility has procedures in place to track their whereabouts.  This is particularly important for facilities where they take residents on trips.  In some cases, patients have been lost and left wandering the streets.

If your parent has dementia, consider giving staff a GPS tracking device that your parent must wear when leaving the facility.

Visit the facility at odd hours to check staffing levels

You might see many staff available when you visit your parent in the afternoon or morning, but how many staff are available late at night?  In many cases, seniors require more assistance late at night because of their health conditions.  Is the facility well-staffed or is it running on a skeleton crew at that time?

Your loved one is more likely to become ill

Most assisted living facilities have their elderly residents living in close proximity with one another.  If there is an infectious illness in the facility, it is often transferred very quickly between residents.  The caregivers can also transmit some illnesses as they move from one resident’s room to another, caring for seniors.

There have been shocking cases of influenza rapidly spreading through a facility, leading to the death of multiple residents from pneumonia.  Gastrointestinal infections have also been known to spread very rapidly through assisted living facilities. Some common contagious infections may include: scabies, flu, pneumonia, MRSA, and c.diff.

Check the condition of your parent’s skin and hair

If staff are responsible for ensuring your parent is showering and is well groomed, make sure they are doing a good job.  Check your parent’s skin, hair and nails to make sure staff are helping them with their personal hygiene.  If your parent has dementia, you should check all over their body including their backside because bed sores can develop if they are left to sit in one spot for many hours.

Ask someone to visit the facility on your behalf

If you live too far away from the facility to regularly visit your parent, ask a relative to visit on your behalf.  You could also consider hiring a professional caregiver to pay your parent regular visits.  An experienced caregiver knows the warning signs that indicate your parent is not receiving the attention they require.

Is the facility well maintained and clean?

When you visit the facility, check that it is clean and that equipment is well maintained.  Check your parent’s room and communal areas for dust and rubbish.  A dirty assisted living facility is a sure warning sign that the facility is understaffed or underfunded.

Check the facilities staff to resident ratio

When you are choosing an assisted living facility, compare their staff to resident ratio.  Some states have guidelines for how many caregivers should be available for each resident.  A ratio of 8 patients to 1 caregiver is considered sufficient in some states.  Also make sure the ratio that the facility gives you actually reflects the number of staff that are face-to-face with residents regularly — not including managers and other staff.

Watch staff closely to gain insight into the facility

One way to check how well the needs of residents are being met is by watching staff members interact with them.  Do staff have the time to chat with residents or are they rushing around and too busy to talk?  Does the staff appear stressed or overwhelmed?  Does the staff interact with residents in a friendly way or are the interactions very uncompassionate?  You can also watch residents to see how well-liked staff members are.

Keep track of your parent’s weight

Tracking your parent’s weight helps you understand if they are being fed well the facility.  If your parent has dementia, they may not always know when they are hungry and begin skipping meals.  If you see their weight drop, talk to facility management immediately.

An Alternative to Assisted Living

Because of the potential problems associated with assisted living, many seniors opt to stay in their homes as they age.  They can use non-medical home care services to obtain the assistance they need.  The highly trained Caregivers from a home care provider can offer many services including cooking meals, shopping, help bathing, help to get to appointments and to pay bills.

We hope you found this article on the frightening facts about assisted living useful.  If you would like to learn more about home care services, contact All Heart Home Care at 619-736-4677.  We offer complimentary in-home consultations and would love to discuss the many home care services we have available.

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