What Happens When a Senior Falls at 2:00 AM in Assisted Living?

What Happens When a Senior Falls at 2:00 AM in Assisted Living?

Falling in Assisted LivingI asked the same question to four memory care communities that were licensed as assisted living. The responses might surprise you and help you determine where to place your own mom or dad.

What happens if my mother-in-law wakes up disoriented at 2:00 AM and gets up to find the bathroom? Then she falls…

Memory Care Community A – “When we find her, a med tech would evaluate her. If she hit her head or something major happened, then 911 is called. My husband asked about the med tech training. Is it like an emergency medical technician (EMT) with a minimum of 140 hours of medical training? She said, “No, it is like a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). There are specific criteria that they are trained on.”

Does someone go with the dementia resident if they go out 911? No!

Diane’s opinion: In my experience, no CNA has the medical expertise to make a judgment call on a fall. My mother’s assisted living community always sent my mom out 911 from a fall in the middle of the night. It happened five times. It was highly traumatic for her. When someone arrives at the emergency room with dementia, it is scary and confusing. It would disorient her for days after each traumatic adventure.

Memory Care Community B – “We have certain guidelines to know when to call 911. In the past month we have had two seniors go out 911. Eighty percent of the time falls do not require 911. We would call the family to meet the senior at the hospital.”

Does someone go with the dementia resident if they go out 911? No!

Diane’s opinion: Some assisted living communities ship senior residents out by 911 because they don’t want liability of a mistake. The pattern I am noticing is that if a community is licensed as an assisted living (board and care) and they do not have a 24-hour nurse, they get shipped out by 911 after a fall during the night.

Memory Care Community C – “If she got up at 2:00 AM, the motion sensors go off and a care manager goes into her room immediately. There are two care managers and a nurse. She will be assessed. If she is okay they will try to help her complete what she was trying to do initially, like going to the bathroom. If the fall is major, then the care manager will go to the hospital with them. If it is not major, she will be continually monitored every 15 minutes.”

Does someone go with the dementia resident if they go out 911? Yes!

Diane’s Opinion: This was the most impressive answer I received to my question. This community had a nurse on staff 24-7 and was priced at the high end of memory care communities. Bad news: My mother-in-law lived at this memory care community and fell. The answer they gave above does not match the reality of what happened. My mother-in-law was found on the floor beside her bed for an undetermined amount of time. Fortunately, she did not have to go out 911.

Memory Care Community D – “A motion sensor goes off, we assess her, and the nurse can be called. We are hesitant to send them out 911 unless absolutely necessary. We do send them out if they have had a head injury. Some places just call 911 but it is too hard on the families. A staff member will go with them to the emergency room.”

Does someone go with the dementia resident if they go out 911? Yes!

Diane’s Opinion: This memory care community had a nurse 14 hours a day. The longer they have a nurse on staff in a 24-hour period of time the more likely they have enough staffing to accompany a resident to the emergency room. Good news: My mother-in-law lived at this memory care community too. She fell and they did accompany her out 911 on several occasions. Thank you!

What Happens When a Senior Falls at 2:00 AM in Assisted Living?

This is a vital question that you need to ask in order to evaluate and choose an assisted living or memory care community for your loved one. Be proactive. Be an advocate. When someone has dementia it is very difficult for them if you pull them out of their normal routine, it can mess them up for days or weeks depending upon the severity of his or her dementia. Assisted living and memory care communities should not send out a dementia resident without accompaniment. My poor mother was always terrified and disoriented at the emergency room.

What has been your experience?

Your Senior Housing Options,” has a simplistic title, but what’s inside this new book can save a you months of research time.  Hear Diane Masson’s interview of how her mother and in-law’s faced the pivotal decision to plan ahead or wait until a crisis.  Learn the pitfalls from transitioning from your home to senior housing.  Understand what questions to ask, insider tips and dirty secrets revealed.  The decision to stay home requires caregivers.  Prevent elder abuse by determining if a home care agency is reputable, before they move into your home.  You are just not looking for today’s needs, but for your future care.  Discover key differences between rental facilities vs Continuing Care Retirement Communities.  Do you have enough financial resources if you need to be in a higher level of care for an extended period of time?  For weekly tips join at: Www.Tips2Seniors.com 

Diane Masson has worked in senior housing for 17 years and is the regional marketing director for two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern CA (Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet).  Her first book “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” is being utilized by senior housing professionals across the country.  Both her first book and second book, “Your Senior Housing Options,” have a 5-star rating on Amazon.com.

Hoarding Seniors and Walkers Don’t Mix

Hoarding Seniors and Walkers Don’t Mix

HOARDINGA hoarding senior who needs a walker is not a safe combination. As hoarders age, the clutter can make a senior fall. It can be practically impossible for an emergency crew to extract a fallen senior out of living room that is piled high with paper, extra furniture and trash. I know of a senior in my former senior living community that was wedged in between tiny pathways of books, magazines, unopened mail and clothing.

A friend of mine is dealing with a senior hoarding situation. Her father-in-law can only navigate through four rooms and has to climb over stuff to get into his bed. This gentleman is 98 years old with dementia and requires a walker.

Recently he injured his leg on a lawn mower that was in his living room. (You can’t make up this stuff.) More trip hazards included extension cords laying on the floor and throw rugs. Whenever his son tries to get rid of stuff the dad refuses. So there are three sofas in the living room and none are accessible. The son bought his dad a new flat screen TV and VCR. The new gifts were duct taped on top of the broken TV and VCR. When the dad received a new recliner for Christmas, it was positioned next to the old run down model. Every attempt to declutter is met with an irate senior who refuses to part with anything.

He should not be in this cluttery filthy home with a walker. A daughter is enabling him by bringing him groceries and medicine. There are piles of crap everywhere and you can barely make it from the chair in the living room to the kitchen.

Hoarders do vary. Some have the kitchen counters covered with expired food items. Green stuff is growing in the refrigerator. It’s a sickness. You cannot correct the problem by cleaning up for them once or twice. You can help make their environment safer on a temporary basis. But hoarding is an illness and they cannot stop until you get to the root cause of the hoarding. You cannot project your common sense on them.

Is your parent a hoarder? My mom collected bags and napkins. When I cleaned out my mom’s home, she literally had 17 black trash bags filled with bags. Wow! Have you had a hoarder move into your senior living community? What happened?  Were they able to downsize their stuff?

Photo by Melody Komyerov.

With experience as both an industry expert and a loving daughter, Diane Twohy Masson is passionate about helping seniors find the retirement community that fits their price range, lifestyle, and needs. Her new guidebook offers a proactive approach to navigating the complex maze of senior housing options. It will help you understand the costs and consequences of the various possibilities, from home care to independent living, assisted living, group homes, memory care, and skilled nursing-care facilities.

“Your Senior Housing Options,” will be coming soon to Amazon.com. If you sign up for my weekly newsletter on the right side of this blog, you will be notified when my new book becomes available. Check out my new website: Tips2Seniors.com or please follow me on Facebook.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available at Amazon.com with a 5-star rating.  The book is required reading at George Mason University as a part of its marketing curriculum.  Within this book, the author developed a sales & marketing method with 12 keys to help senior living providers increase their occupancy.