People typically associate abuse and neglect of seniors with nursing homes rather than assisted living facilities. After all, people in assisted living are typically healthier and more self-reliant than those in nursing homes. They often have their own apartments and can be just about as independent as those living on their own. With our senior population growing and people living longer, the U.S. has nearly twice as many assisted living facilities as nursing homes.
However, that doesn’t mean that people in assisted living can’t become the victims of abuse, both from those whose job it is to help care for them and by other residents. To make matters worse, federal regulations provide less protection for these seniors than for those in nursing homes — even though both types of facilities receive federal money through programs like Medicare and Medicaid. The states provide most of the oversight of assisted living facilities, and — as with most things — state regulations and enforcement vary significantly.
Many assisted living facilities provide various levels of care. Some residents may require little, if any, assistance. They just want a comfortable place to live where they don’t have to worry about maintaining a home and yard and cook their own meals. Here, they can get some help with housekeeping, laundry and other chores. Other residents require more help with activities of daily living like bathing and taking medications. Some have cognitive impairments and need what is called “memory care.”
Obviously, the more dependent a senior is, the more likely they are to be abused or suffer from neglect. People should watch for signs like the following in their loved one:
- They seem fearful or intimidated by people who work there (or other residents).
- They’re experiencing mood changes and becoming increasingly sad or withdrawn.
- They’re losing weight.
- They don’t appear to be taking care of themselves (bathing, changing clothes, etc.).
You should address signs of abuse or neglect with the facility’s management. If your loved one is living independently in the facility and appears to be increasingly unable to do so, they may need a higher level of care. If they’re supposed to be receiving that care and they aren’t, that is neglect.
If your loved one suffered harm from abuse or neglect at an assisted living facility, it’s wise to consult an experienced attorney to determine what your options are for seeking justice for them.