Assisted Living Attorney for Elder Abuse

If you’re helping to care for an aging parent or loved one, this conversation may sound familiar:

“Maybe my mom doesn’t need 24-hour nursing care, so maybe we don’t have to put her in a nursing home just yet. I know she’s often confused. And she’s started to leave the stove on and leave the house with her bathrobe on… But I promised her I wouldn’t put her in a home.”

So is assisted living the answer?

Assisted Living Definition

Assisted living is big business. In 2000, an estimated 1.5 million people were living in assisted living facilities.1 And with a sizable aging population, that number will only increase.

When researching the best choices for your loved one’s future, it is important to understand the differences between an assisted living facility and a skilled nursing facility or nursing home:

  • Government programs do not reimburse assisted living facilities, so they are privately paid. As a result, they are not subject to federal regulations like nursing homes.
  • Assisted living facilities have no minimum staffing levels.
  • Assisted living facilities have no medical directors, but they may have contracts with physicians to call on an as-needed basis.
  • Assisted living facilities permit medications to be given by unlicensed personnel.
  • Contracts or agreements govern care.

Risk Factors

So how do you know when an assisted living facility is the best choice for your loved one? That depends on the level of skilled nursing care required.
If your loved one is generally of sound mind but they need assistance in areas of everyday living, an assisted care facility may be the best choice. However, it is important to understand that while an assisted care facility may be appropriate for today, it may not be appropriate for tomorrow if your loved one’s health declines.

How are Residents Injured in Assisted Living Facilities?

As an attorney, the cases I review against assisted living facilities usually involve residents who were admitted to a facility despite requiring more care than the facility could provide. Why? Money for assisting living is not covered by government reimbursement (Medicare or Medicaid), so residents’ families pay 100 percent of the costs. That means a lot of money for the facility.

In other cases, although a resident’s condition may be suited to a facility when admitted, assisted care facilities also frequently keep residents whose health has declined and need additional care beyond what the facility can provide. Instead of notifying families that their loved one needs to transition to a skilled care facility, the assisted living facility will want to keep the resident in order to continue earning money for the resident’s care.

It is important to understand the admission criteria for the facility and make sure that your loved one’s level of care matches those criteria. I am concerned with the number of assisting living facilities that market themselves as having specialty units for dementia or Alzheimer’s care. Make sure you understand the care they can provide and their policies for taking action on elder abuse.

Cases and Experience – How We Help

Many lawsuits focus on facilities’ failure to discharge or transfer residents whose medical conditions worsen to a level that exceeds the facility’s resources. Assisted living facilities are often reluctant to discharge residents who are paying customers. The resulting inappropriate care can lead to injury from negligence, medical malpractice, or even elder abuse.

If you are concerned about the care—or lack of care—your family member received in assisted living, please call me for a free consultation to discuss taking action on elder abuse and negligence. Once I learn about the injuries and nature of the treatment suffered by your loved one, I can explain your options and rights.


Footnotes
1. Michael J. Stoil. Assisted Living: On the Slippery Slope to Regulation? 51(6) Nursing Home Long Term Care Management 8 (June 2000).