Residents With Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease
Cognitive decline, with its many causes, is a very common condition among residents of nursing home and assisted living facility residents. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly sixty percent of nursing home residents suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Residents suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia have their own set of nursing care requirements. Of course, the cognitive abilities of residents with these issues varies widely, ranging from residents who are only moderately impaired to those who have become bedbound. Therefore, a “one size fits all” plan of care definitely does not apply with residents suffering from dementia. Upon admission, and periodically thereafter, nursing homes in Florida are required to maintain an individualized “care plan” for every resident. In this manner, the resident’s care plan can be amended to reflect any progressive problems the resident his having.
There are numerous concerns specific to dementia residents that increase their care requirements. A common and very dangerous situation for persons suffering from dementia is wandering. Such a person can suffer serious injuries from getting lost, failing to appreciate traffic dangers, and falling, just to name a few. These conditions can also cause balance and motor skill deficits making falls a significant danger.
Residents with dementia can also be very poor at effectively expressing themselves, making it more difficult to determine any symptoms they may be experiencing. This requires the amount of time and analysis that only sufficient nursing staff can provide – otherwise, serious problems can go undetected. Florida’s minimum staffing requirements for nurses and certified nursing assistants is clearly insufficient for a dementia unit.
Persons with dementia can also be aggressive with other nursing home residents. In fact, it was recently reported that a resident at a Jacksonville nursing home died after being struck in the head with a dresser drawer by another resident that suffered from dementia. Unfortunately, because residents with dementia are sometimes not able to effectively express themselves, then can also be a target for assault, abuse or neglect by nursing home employees.
Our firm recently handled a case where a man suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia was left at the curb in front of his adult daycare facility by a medical transportation company that picked him up from the assisted living facility where he lived. The man never made it into the daycare center, but rather, got lost in the Springfield area near downtown Jacksonville and suffered severe facial injuries, the exact cause of which was never determined.
Sadly, more tragic consequences do occur. For example, a nursing home here in Jacksonville - that we have sued in another context - was cited by the State of Florida for allowing a man suffering from dementia to gain access to an unlocked stairwell. The man wandered into the stairwell and fell to his death. The nursing home’s neglect in that situation included: failing to properly supervise the resident; placing an Alzheimer’s unit on a second floor; failing to maintain an effective locking mechanism on the door; and failing to make sure the door alarm was working properly.
Please let us know if we can help with any issues related to injuries to a nursing home resident who suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Consultations are always free.