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How does nursing home neglect happen?

There are many nursing homes in Chicago, Illinois. Some of them provide excellent care and offer spotless records of excellent service to prospective patients.

At others, however, nursing home abuse is rampant. Here are some common questions about nursing home abuse and neglect against patients with dementia and Alzheimer's:

Does neglect count as abuse?

Abuse can take the form of neglect, whether failing to attend to the needs of patients or letting patients get into dangerous situations. That latter can often happen as many residents of nursing homes have conditions like Alzheimer's and dementia that cause them to wander off. They might wander into an unsafe area of the nursing home, where there are hot, sharp or otherwise dangerous things. They also may wander out of the nursing home and even into streets.

What is the main reason for that?

That can happen with patients who have Alzheimer's and dementia of various kinds. They can become confused, getting disoriented and not know where they are and where they need to go. Correspondingly, the patients can get lost even when doing something as simple as walking down a hallway. This tendency can get worse in some patients in the evenings, which is a symptom of dementia called sundowner's syndrome.

What are other reasons for that?

In addition to becoming confused and disoriented, many patients have compulsions that drive them to go somewhere else. Those compulsions accelerate the patients' tendencies to wander into trouble. Sometimes caregivers can address this by providing what are called healthy distractions for the patients. Healthy distractions are ways to engage the patients' interest in the areas where they are so that they don't wander off.

Does that work with all patients?

Some patients resist those efforts by caregivers. Patients may want to go to a specific place, like their former home, no matter how many years it has been since they last lived there. Patients who want to do that will often go to extraordinary lengths to do it, trying to get out of the nursing home during the day and during the night. In those cases, like in other cases, caregivers need to be trained about their patients' conditions so that they can protect them from harm.

Source: A Place for Mom, "How to Stop the Alzheimer’s Wandering Crisis," Jeff Anderson, accessed Oct. 11, 2017

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