Many ALFs claim to be able to care for Alzheimer’s patients. Despite this, many Alzheimer’s patients suffer harm and neglect. Assisted living facilities are rapidly becoming the nursing homes of the future. According to the National Center for Assisted Living, there are over 36,000 licensed assisted living facilities nationwide with an estimated one million residents.

Most ALFs, promote special Alzheimer’s disease Units, and are accepting residents with significant cognitive impairment. The reality is that many of these facilities have staffing that is inferior to the staffing levels present in nursing homes and simply cannot meet the needs of the higher acuity residents. The end result is that residents are suffering from serious injuries.

There is very little in regards to regulations (safety rules) for this industry. There are no federal guidelines or requirements only state to state, The regulations that do exist provide a very minimal protection for the residents.

Your assisted living facility search starts with the set up of the facility, the design of the facility and the marketing of the facility. First start with the analysis as to whether the facility is committed to Alzheimer’s awareness and care as they often say they are.

The assisted living industry specifically markets for residents suffering from Alzheimer’s. This requires special knowledge and training in the care for Alzheimer’s. There are also risks associated with caring for Alzheimer’s residents if you don’t know how to address Alzheimer’s issues.

When evaluating an assisted living Alzheimer’s unit look to determine whether the facility followed the standard of Alzheimer’s care, or commonly called, care practice recommendations. It is referred to in the industry as care practice recommendations and are recommended and supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, But, largely, the standard of Alzheimer’s care is outlined by experts in the field. First and foremost there has to be a commitment to Dementia care. Look at the facility’s Mission Statement. The Mission Statement should state the goals of the facility and how they plan to get there. Next is to approach training. Training can’t be a one day seminar or video tape. Training has to be ongoing. Recommended are 12 hours of initial training and 1 additional hour of training each month. The training shouldn’t stop there. Each staff member should be updated on each resident. Most often the staff have no idea about the residents’ backgrounds, family history, medical conditions, needs, safety precautions and other needs. Training ties directly to staffing. The staffing patterns should ensure that residents with dementia have sufficient assistance to complete their health and personal care routines and to participate in the daily life of the residence. Look for the level of staff communication with the resident’s family. This is critical to helping a family understand the progression of the resident’s disease. For the complete guide go to www.alz.org and look for Dementia Care Practice Recommendations for Assisted Living Residences. The care practice recommendations consist of three areas: Adequate Food and Fluid Consumption; Pain Management; Social Engagement and Involvement in Meaningful Activities.

Understanding that the standard of care is different than that of a nursing home and understanding Alzheimer’s disease is two important parts of evaluating an assisted living facility.

The most common type of injury occurring in assisted living is resident on resident assaults and abuse. More likely than not between two residents suffering from Alzheimer’s. In one particular case one resident beat another resident to death. Both suffered from Alzheimer’s. Ask the obvious questions: What are the causes of Alzheimer’s disease? What are the Symptoms? How is it diagnosed? How is it treated? What are the dangers associated with the disease. Often times, the hands on personnel can not answer these questions.

The most common type of ALF litigation are falls, staff competency issues, e.g. medication errors, skin problems and responses to adverse incidents. Even though, ALF do not consider themselves in the healthcare field they should have a fall prevention program for the simple reason that, because of age, Alzheimer’s and medications, people living in assisted livings arc nt risk for falling.

Even though the assisted living facility will rely on the fact that there isn’t federal (and in most states) regulations (safety rules) like for nursing homes; and that they do not provide medical care they have to follow the duty of care for treatment of Alzheimer’s since they specifically market for, accept and agree to care for Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a medical condition which requires medical attention and specific training in awareness, treatment, diagnosis and injury prevention.