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Alzheimer’s Care Facility Abuse

When a family member is caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, they soon realize how expensive and difficult of a job it can be. Individuals who are still in the early stages of Alzheimer’s do not require much extra care, but once the individual has moderate or late stage Alzheimer’s, the caregiver may need to move them to an Alzheimer’s Care Facility.

Alzheimer’s Care Facilities, which are also called memory care units, are specially designed and staffed to provide high quality care to patients with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. However, even in these facilities there is a risk for elder abuse.

Why Do People Go to Alzheimer’s Care Facilities?

Individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s still have the ability to mostly care for themselves. Caregivers only need to provide help and occasional supervision and reminders. However, once Alzheimer’s progresses to the middle stages, it’s important that the caregiver supervises them 24 hours a day. Those with moderate Alzheimer’s may hurt themselves if left unsupervised in the home, and there is a risk that they will leave the home and wander away.

Elderly patients with late stage Alzheimer’s require constant attention and assistance to do daily tasks. Though some people can afford to spend this time at home with their relatives, most working professionals do not have the time or the expertise. In addition, paying a specialist to live with your family member would be extremely expensive. Alzheimer’s Care Facilities are a reasonable way for people to make sure that their family members are being supervised and cared for by professionals.

For many caregivers, it can be difficult to send a relative away to a nursing facility. Every caregiver must evaluate their own situation and determine if they can provide the care and attention that their family member needs and deserves. They should also put their loved one’s safety first and decide where their loved one would be most free from harm.

Abuse in Alzheimer’s Care Facilities

Though abuse in Alzheimer’s Care Facilities  is not common, it does happen. People with Alzheimer’s have a higher risk of being abused than other nursing home residents. Because of their condition, these patients are more vulnerable, and so they are more often targeted for abuse. Abusive medical staff believe Alzheimer’s patients are more vulnerable because compared to other residents:

  • They have more difficulty taking care of themselves and communicating
  • They have serious short-term memory loss and may forget the abuse
  • Others may not believe them if they report abuse
  • They are more easily confused and may not understand that they are being abused

Like other types of elder abuse, family members and caregivers must be vigilant in order to detect signs of abuse that are occurring. Physical injuries such as bruises, broken bones, and lacerations could be signs of abuse. Sudden changes in personality and behavior, depression, and agitation can also be symptoms of suffering from abuse. Unfortunately, detecting abuse is very difficult for those with Alzheimer’s because they may be unable to explain their injuries and emotional changes do not guarantee abuse.

Preventing Abuse in Alzheimer’s Care Facilities

Compared to standard nursing home facilities, sending your loved one to an Alzheimer’s care facility already reduces the risk of abuse. The staff members in these facilities are specifically trained to care for Alzheimer’s sufferers and typically provide better care than general nursing home staff.

Before admitting your loved one, you should:

  • Visit the facility at different times of day
  • Speak with nurses and other staff
  • Review recent surveys and inspections for violations or problems
  • If possible, speak with a family who already has a loved one living there

By doing these things first you will be able to identify high quality care facilities where abuse is less likely.


“Caring for Someone.” Alzheimers.gov. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 19 Feb 2014. <http://www.alzheimers.gov/>.

“Management of patients with Alzheimer’s disease in long-term care facilities..” PubMed.gov. 23(1).March (1988): 57-68. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3347584>.

“Residential Care.” Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s Association, n.d. Web. 19 Feb 2014. <https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-residential-facilities.asp


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