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Legislation Would Aid Alzheimer and Dementia Patients

A recent report detailing alleged neglect at several for-profit memory care homes that cater to patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia has prompted a pair of New Jersey lawmakers to introduce legislation that would improve state oversight at such facilities.

(Flickr User: AlzheimerHelp)

The measure, sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Connie Wagner, comes on the heels of a report in The Record this past weekend that revealed a series of incidents that allegedly occurred at facilities operated by Memory Care Living at Potomac Homes, which specialize in alternative senior care that isn’t has highly regulated as nursing homes.

In one case, an elderly man suffering from dementia wandered four blocks from a group home in Mahwah in March and was found standing in the middle of a busy intersection.

“I am concerned about the lack of accountability and oversight of these facilities cited in the report,” said Vainieri Huttle.  “The incidents are too many and too disturbing to ignore.  Individuals with Alzheimer’s are especially vulnerable and we must ensure that they are receiving appropriate care in a safe environment.  This is a health and safety issue and a consumer issue.”

“Placing a loved one in a home is often a difficult decision.  These diseases are debilitating and require a level of care that many are unable to provide at home.  The incidents cited in this report are heartbreaking,” said Wagner.  “Families who entrust the care of their relatives to these facilities should have the peace of mind that their loved ones are getting the care they need and require.”

The Record reviewed the inspection files going back to 2000 and found hundreds of citations.  Infractions included the facilities failing to adequately screen residents, discharging them when their condition got more serious, allowing un-certified aides to dispense medication, making errors in keeping medical records and having malfunctioning or disabled gates and alarms.

The legislation would address misleading advertising, including advertising that refers to the homes as nursing homes or assisted living facilities.  It would improve state oversight and how the state responds to allegations of misconduct and abuse and would enhance enforcement of current regulations and potentially create new ones to prevent abuse.

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