Seniors with Alzheimer’s have a greater risk of abuse at assisted living facilities because their cognitive condition makes them more vulnerable than residents without dementia. The BrightFocus Foundation reports that in 2012, studies revealed a high rate of abuse among seniors with dementia, a broad term for diseases involving cognitive and memory decline such as Alzheimer’s disease.
In one study, 1 in 5 caregivers admitted that they feared they would become violent with the seniors with dementia they cared for, and another study found that nearly half of the caregivers surveyed had abused or neglected them. A review in Health Affairs states that psychological abuse accounts for most cases involving seniors with dementia, followed by physical abuse. As a whole, elder abuse doubles a victim’s rate of hospitalization and triples their likelihood of death.
Assisted Living Residents with Alzheimer’s Have Difficulty Communicating Their Needs and Concerns
Alzheimer’s disease causes neurons in the brain to die, minimizing connections in neural networks and leading to brain shrinkage. As the brain loses its volume, a person with Alzheimer’s gradually loses their ability to think normally and recall memories.
As a result, they may have a difficult time recognizing abuse or reporting it to family members and authorities. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s that make it difficult for sufferers to communicate with others include:
- Trouble finding words
- Difficulty identifying people, places, and time
- Changes in personality and judgment
- Lack of interest in important issues
- Making up stories or facts
- Challenges completing tasks
If the victim does understand that they have suffered abuse, they may not remember to report it or know how to do so. When family members recognize the signs of abuse and neglect in their loved ones with Alzheimer’s at assisted living facilities, they can reach out to a lawyer who can help them seek accountability and compensation.
The Overmedication of Assisted Living Residents with Alzheimer’s
In 2018, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released the findings of extensive research they conducted on the overmedication of seniors with dementia in long-term care facilities. Researchers found that this issue accounts for a significant portion of elder abuse among assisted living residents with dementia.
Nursing facilities across the United States give antipsychotic drugs to nearly 180,000 people each week, and the recipients do not have conditions that warrant their use of the medication. They do, however, have dementia, and care staff unethically relies on the sedative effects of the drugs to make their jobs easier.
Individuals with Alzheimer’s can sometimes become agitated or even aggressive, especially in later stages of the disease. Their impaired cognitive function can contribute to confusion and an inability to control emotions, and they may lash out at those around them, including caregivers.
While these instances can make those around them scared or nervous, care staff has a responsibility to deescalate the situation by determining the root of the problem and using the appropriate techniques to resolve it. This requires adequate staffing and training, not subduing residents with unwanted and potentially dangerous medications.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 794-0444
Types of Abuse Suffered by Seniors with Alzheimer’s
Seniors with Alzheimer’s have a greater risk of abuse at assisted living facilities, and this includes many forms of mistreatment. The Alzheimer’s Association notes the types of abuse suffered by victims, which may include:
- Physical abuse, or any treatment that intentionally causes pain
- Emotional abuse, such as threats, humiliation, or harassment
- Sexual assault, such as unwanted touching or forced sexual activity
- Neglect or willful deprivation of needs
- Confinement or isolation
- Financial exploitation
- Self-neglect due to an inability to care for oneself and a lack of assistance
The abuse of elders with dementia can lead to physical and emotional harm and result in financial difficulties for their families. A lawyer can help loved ones pursue financial recovery from the assisted living facility.
Assisted Living Residents with Alzheimer’s Have a Right to Quality Care
Residents of long-term care facilities have rights outlined by state statutes. While they often share similar protections, these rights are not standardized. These laws are supposed to ensure that every individual receives the level of treatment they deserve regardless of their condition and needs in a way that respects their autonomy. These possible protections include:
- The right to a dignified existence
- The right to remain fully informed of their care plan and the freedom to make medical decisions, including accepting or rejecting any type of treatment
- The right to report grievances without the fear or threat of retaliation
- The right to manage their own money
- The right to access to family, friends, and services outside the facility as well as those within it
- The right to privacy regarding personal relationships, financial concerns, and medical care
Abuse of any type violates a resident’s basic rights under state law, and a facility that fails to uphold them could face legal action.
Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm for Help with Your Case
Choosing an assisted living facility for your loved one presents many challenges, especially if they have memory care needs. If you discovered that your spouse, parent, or another loved one has suffered abuse in a long-term care setting, the lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you seek compensation. Call our legal team today at (800) 794-0444 for your free case evaluation.