Accessibility modifications and in-home care provide greater peace of mind for Aging in Place
It probably shocked many people when they read the story about the 87 year-old woman who died at an assisted living facility because a staff member refused to administer CPR despite a 911 operator insisting she do so or find someone who would. The facility, Glenwood Gardens, is an independent living facility and, as such is “not licensed to provide medical care to any of its residents.” This clearly however, should not extend to saving a person’s life in an emergency. The facility’s parent company, in fact, said in a statement that the employee wrongly interpreted company policy when she declined to offer aide.
Unfortunately this is not an isolated case. As recently as last month a lawsuit was filed by 10 families of residents at Agape Village, an assisted living facility in Hazel Green, AL. The lawsuit alleges that 10 elderly former residents suffered from substandard care, abuse and neglect. As recently as this past December the Alabama Department of Public Health released a critical report of Agape Village, listing a number of violations at the facility, including reports of patient bruises and abuse not reported to the state in a timely manner, a staff member abusing four patients, improper staffing levels, nurses not trained according to state rules in dementia care and other violation. This past week a jury in California awarded $23 million to the family of an 82-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease who died after staying at a Northern California assisted living facility that was found liable for her death. When she moved into the assisted living facility, she was able to walk in with a walker. Within three months, she couldn’t walk, lost 20 pounds and had multiple deep ulcers. Two months later she was dead. The suit alleged that the facility was understaffed and not trained properly on how to deal with the woman. There were many nights where there was no staff for 17 dementia patients.
The decision to move an aging parent into an assisted living facility – even worse a nursing home – can be gut-wrenching. The cost will undoubtedly consume all of their assets and leaving neighbors and friends they’ve known for years is upsetting. Even the best assisted living facilities are no substitute for their home. In every study conducted, the majority of seniors would prefer to age-in-place. Even when an aging parent needs help with one or more Activities of Daily Living (ADL) it is, by far, more cost efficient to hire an in-home caregiver and make modifications to the home that allow for accessibility. If aging-in-place is truly not an option, designing a multi-generational home with a handicap accessible suite is a great solution. Every family wants the peace of mind knowing how their parent is being cared for. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case with assisted living facilities.
Alison Jacobson is the President of Accessible Home Living, which provides accessibility and disability remodeling for seniors and the disabled in Fairfield County, Westchester County and Putnam County. In addition to designing handicap accessible bathrooms, installing wheel chair ramps, stairlifts and widening doorways, we also custom design handicap accessible modular home additions for people who need a caregiver but are looking for an alternative to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Accessible Home Living’s aging in place home designs incorporate universal design for accessibility for seniors and disabled individuals. Our Certified Aging In Place specialists work with families to create beautiful, handicap accessible living environments.