A local story caught my interest today. It’s a sad one, and a story that no one wants to hear, especially if you have a loved one in an Alzheimer’s care facility. The caregivers at a metro Atlanta memory care center are facing 72 abuse-related charges. The allegations include restraining patients with bedsheets, throwing water at patients and putting multiple diapers on patients so they wouldn’t have to change them as often.
The facility was immediately shut down and both current and past caregivers will have their day in court. The most surprising aspect of the case to me was the interviews with the relatives of patients who were residing at this facility. The ones the local news interviewed were shocked by the allegations. One woman had even moved her mother from another facility to this one because she was receiving inferior care at the first facility. No one interviewed had seen anything related to the charges filed. Either the case is overblown or the caregivers were good at hiding their abusive actions.
The relatives were also upset about having to “claim” their loved one at a moment’s notice, since the facility was immediately shut down. It is a shame that there is not some safety net in place so that families are not left looking for another care center on their own while having to take care of their loved one at home. (One woman said it took months to find the right center, and I’ve read stories from bloggers who have said the same thing.)
The takeaways from this case for me is to really look at a care center from top to bottom as objectively as you can. Try to visit outside of normal business hours if possible. With Dad, we were not able to visit as regularly as we’d have liked, but with Mom I was there almost every day. Did it make a difference? I feel like they received a similar quality of care but I felt more in control by being a daily presence. Of course, visiting daily is not viable for everyone and should not be required for your loved one to receive compassionate care.
The second takeaway for me is having a backup plan. If the facility where your loved one resides is suddenly shut down, are you prepared to house them indefinitely? I know my house with stairs is not safe for a dementia patient. If you have siblings or other relatives, have you discussed with them if they would be willing to provide temporary housing? Taking in a dementia patient requires 24/7 care as we all know. Are there sufficient at-home services in your area? I know where my mom lives, the home care resources are very limited.
A tragic case provides some food for thought.