Caring for and Keeping Safe a Loved One with Alzheimer’s

March 21st, 2016 by Attorney Roger Weinberg

If a family member has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you face a long and what could be a difficult road. In the early stages of the disease, care at home may be appropriate; but as time passes and the disease progresses, that may become too much for your family and unsafe for the loved one with the disease. Whether you hire help for care at home or the person needs to live in a nursing home or assisted living facility in Maryland, because of the Alzheimer’s your loved one is at a high risk for abuse and neglect.

When the family member is first diagnosed, you need to plan.

You need to cover such issues as where the person will live, how personal and medical needs will be met, and who will make medical decisions after your loved one is no longer competent to do so. The website HelpGuide has suggestions for caring for someone with Alzheimer’s at home, including developing daily routines that involve the person’s interests, group activities and time outdoors.

As the disease progresses, mental abilities and memory will suffer and personality changes may occur. You may need to consider outside help to keep your loved one at home, including live-in help, day programs and respite care that will give you some time off so you can recover from the physical and mental stress of care giving.

When and if the person is best served by living in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you need to determine what level of care is needed and then find the best facility you can, one experienced in caring for those with the disease. There are some areas you will need to ask about:

  • Policy and procedures: Those with Alzheimer’s may be mixed with residents who have mental illnesses, which could be potentially dangerous for your loved one.
  • Environment: The facility should be clean, and common areas and dining areas should be large enough so all residents can use them comfortably. Ask about alarms that may prevent the person from leaving the facility. How noisy is the facility?
  • Staffing: This will depend on the severity of dementia as to what ratio deems sufficient staffing. Ask about the staff-to-resident ratio, the turnover rate of staff, how they handle meals and hydration, and how the staff evaluates residents for pain and overall health.
  • Staff training: How much training does staff receive for Alzheimer’s care? How often is it done?
  • Activities: Are there individual activity plans based on each person’s interests and cognitive abilities? Are residents allowed, escorted, outside?

No matter how well you plan or investigate those who may care for your loved one, all too often the neglect and abuse of nursing home and assisted living facility residents with Alzheimer’s can become a reality. According to the Center for Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, studies of abuse of people with dementia by caregivers show some alarming facts:

  • Rates of abuse ranged from 34% to 62% in three international studies.
  • Caregiver abuse and neglect was found in 47% of caregivers surveyed in a U.S. study.
  • 60% of caregivers had been verbally abusive.
  • Between 5% and 10% of caregivers reported that they were physically abusive.
  • 14% stated they were neglectful.

Regardless of the care promised, you should visit your loved one often to lessen the chance of neglect or abuse.

If your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s and appears to be the victim of abuse or neglect at a nursing home or assisted living facility in Maryland, contact our office. We can talk about the situation, what we can do to prevent it from happening again and the legal options for obtaining compensation for injuries that occurred.  At the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg, you’ll find compassionate support and experienced advocates to help your family through the tough times. Call 410-825-3161 today to schedule a free consultation.

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