Saturday, November 7, 2009

Are Mentally Ill a Threat in Nursing Home Environments


Ivory Jackson had Alzheimer's, but that wasn't what killed him. At 77, he was smashed in the face with a clock radio as he lay in his nursing home bed.

Numbers obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and prepared exclusively for the AP by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show nearly 125,000 young and middle-aged adults with serious mental illness lived in U.S. nursing homes last year.


Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
Editor


Reading this information gave me a bit of a stomach ache. Fortunately, my mother is still at home with me.

But what about families that through choice, or no choice, are placing their loved one's in care facilities?

I believe that this shocking news needs to be more widely distributed.

This information needs to be considered by all families as they do their "due diligence" when selecting an appropriate nursing home or care facility.

Do nursing homes divulge, up front, as part of their disclosure the number of persons suffering from mental illness that are living in their facility?

How many families are aware of the problem? Is it realistic to believe that a typical family would even know, or think to ask questions about the number of mentally ill in the facility?

Over the past several years, nursing homes have become dumping grounds for young and middle-age people with mental illness, according to Associated Press interviews and an analysis of data from all 50 states. And that has proved a prescription for violence, as Jackson's case and others across the country illustrate.

Younger, stronger residents with schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder are living beside frail senior citizens, and sometimes taking their rage out on them.

"Sadly, we're seeing the tragic results of the failure of federal and state governments to provide appropriate treatment and housing for those with mental illnesses and to provide a safe environment for the frail elderly," said Janet Wells, director of public policy for the National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform.

Numbers obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and prepared exclusively for the AP by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show nearly 125,000 young and middle-aged adults with serious mental illness lived in U.S. nursing homes last year.

That was a 41 percent increase from 2002, when nursing homes housed nearly 89,000 mentally ill people ages 22 to 64. Most states saw increases, with Utah, Nevada, Missouri, Alabama and Texas showing the steepest climbs.
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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The Alzheimer's Reading Room is the number one website on the Internet for news, advice, and insight into Alzheimer's disease. Bob has written more than 950 articles with more than 8,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer's Reading Room