Seniors with dementia are at the greatest risk of elder abuse. Approximately 5.1 million American elders over 65 suffer from some form of dementia. Close to half of all seniors over 85 have Alzheimer’s disease or another kind of dementia. These numbers are expected to increase in prevalence. One 2009 study revealed that close to 50% of people with dementia experience some kind of abuse. A 2010 study found that 47% of participants with dementia had been mistreated by their caregivers.
It has become a popular trend for assisted living facilities and other long term facilities to market “memory care units,” implying that they are specialized in dementia care. Unfortunately, some facilities fail to offer anything specialized or even different in the way they care for their dementia residents.
The Alzheimer’s Association supports the enactment of state legislation regarding the disclosure of claims made by facilities relative to their Alzheimer’s special care units. The term Special Care Units (“SCU”) is synonymous with and/or encompasses “Memory Care” and other terms specifically targeted towards patients with dementia. The Association drafted model legislation, and today at least 44 states have specific regulatory provisions for facilities serving people with Alzheimer’s disease, up from 36 states in 2002, and 28 in 2000. Hawaiʻi is one of only a handful of remaining states that have not enacted legislation such as this. The Alzheimer’s Association has published a number of invaluable materials including “Dementia Care Practice Recommendation for Assisted Living Residences and Nursing Homes [PDF].”