It is widely known that dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency in the senior community. The World Health Organization confirms the seriousness of this syndrome. Dementia is a condition that is characterized by deterioration in memory, thinking, and behavior. It can cause many individuals to lose the ability to perform their regular activities without assistance. A major concern that dementia brings with it is the increased risk of wandering. Let our Los Alamitos elder law lawyers provide a few tips for protecting your elder loved ones from being injured.
How dementia increases the risk of wandering
The reality is, the senior population suffers from dementia more often than any other age group. In fact, dementia is one of the most common reasons that seniors move into nursing homes. It is also believed that Dementia is a common cause of what is referred to as “elopement” or wandering. Seniors who are suffering from dementia often develop wandering tendencies. This is typically due to impaired cognitive ability, which causes them to start wandering around unsupervised.
Wandering from nursing homes is a major concern
Senior wandering is a serious concern because left unsupervised, seniors can suffer severe injuries from falls. For those who manage to wander outside of the nursing home facility, there have been some cases of death. Elders can get lost and disoriented, as well. Recognizing these dangers, lawmakers included specific protections in the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act. Under this law, nursing homes are required to provide residents with adequate supervision in order to prevent elderly patients from wandering off. That requires sufficient staffing and training.
How do I know if the nursing home will provide adequate protection?
Our Los Alamitos elder law lawyers recommend asking a few specific questions to determine whether a nursing provides sufficient trained staff to protect the needs of its residents. Making this determination is important whether your loved one is currently residing in the nursing home or if you are considering a nursing home. Here is what you should ask the administrators:
- How many staff members are required to be on shift during the night?
- What is the resident to staff ratio?
- Are the staff assigned to specific residents?
- Are there employees who specialize in caring for seniors with dementia?
- What type of education and training in dementia, if any, is provided to the staff?
- How are staff members trained to handle residents who wander?
Dealing with the challenges of Alzheimer’s
One of the primary challenges of dealing with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia is the eventual loss of ability to think clearly. This symptom makes it difficult or even impossible to make legal, financial and medical decisions. The best course of action is to begin incapacity planning as soon as a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has been made, if not before. Why? Because it is easier to make a plan while your loved one is still able to participate. In most situations, individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s are still able to understand and make their own decisions.
Support for Southern California Seniors with Alzheimer’s
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s most often develop slowly and get worse over time, until the symptoms become severe enough to interfere with the individual’s daily tasks. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It accounts for between 60 and 80 percent of all diagnosed dementia cases. If you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or you believe they may be, it is time to start thinking about incapacity planning.
Alzheimer’s Association – California Southland
In California, there is a great organization that is here to help families dealing with this terrible disease. The Alzheimer’s Association provides a 24/7 Helpline for reliable information and support. The toll-free number is (800) 272-3900. The Alzheimer’s Association offers families and caregivers comprehensive online resources and information, addressing all stages of the disease.
Why is incapacity planning necessary?
Regardless of whether Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia is involved, it is not common for seniors to reach a point where assistance is needed in managing their medical and financial affairs. There are certain steps that should be taken to make it easier for a loved-one or trusted friend to help with those issues. The good news is, there are decisions that can be made now, and plans that can be put in place, that will allow someone you trust to make decisions for you if you are no longer able to do so.
Download our FREE estate planning worksheet today! If you have questions regarding estate planning, trust contests, or any other trust administration issues, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us in Los Angeles at (310) 337-7696, and in Orange County at (562) 346-3209.
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