CaneSometimes to avoid sending an elder loved one to a nursing home, families opt instead for an assisted living facility. These facilities typically offer less medical care and more independence than nursing homes. But that means they also don’t face as many regulations.

Assisted living can cost $4-5,000 per month. With prices that high, and our loved ones’ safety on the line, it’s important we ask tough questions. Questions like:

  • When our loved ones enter an assisted living facility, what services are they really getting?
  • Are they getting the medical attention they need?
  • Is the staff prepared to help when a resident feels confused or alienated?

In late July, Frontline and ProPublica released a video on the findings of an investigation into assisted living facilities. According to the report, the assisted living system is a broken, dangerous place, where our elders often receive substandard care and potentially suffer from abuse and neglect.

The report uncovers shocking injuries in some assisted living facilities, including:

  • sexual assault
  • beatings
  • disappearances
  • falls leading to broken bones and death
  • bedsores so serious they led to a patient’s death
  • medication errors
  • freezing to death
  • accidental poisoning

The investigation also uncovered some reasons for why these problems might be happening.

– First, in an attempt to cut costs, the facilities are often understaffed. They also accept many residents who need a more skilled nursing facility like a nursing home, because they want to keep the open beds full.

– Then, the workers only receive a brief training session. Sometimes, employees working with dementia patients only get an 8-hour orientation to teach them everything they might need for their job!

– Lastly, the authorities in charge of the facilities, or the larger corporations as a whole, sometimes try to avoid the issues when something goes wrong. They might not respond to employee complaints or warnings. They might try to cover up the wrongdoing.

If you have a loved one in assisted living, please do everything you can to watch for any warning signs of elder abuse or neglect. These are just as possible in an assisted living facility as they are in a nursing home.

And if you believe your loved one was injured in an assisted living home, contact me immediately. Right now, as the Frontline investigation points out, a lawsuit is one of the only ways to get justice. The conversation is absolutely free.

(Photo: Miriam Wickett)