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Elder Advocates Worry About Massachusetts Assisted Living Residents

According to elder advocates, the state’s Executive Office of Elder Affairs, which oversees some 224 facilities, is not properly equipped to protect Massachusetts assisted living residents, who are too often at risk of getting hurt. The Boston Globe reports that assisted living residences in the state are not as tightly regulated as nursing homes. However, many elderly persons-about 13,700 people-are choosing this housing alternative because it is less expensive than the cost of living in a nursing home.

Typically assisted living residents are elderly adults who need help cooking, bathing, or with other daily tasks but can otherwise live independently. Yet because of not enough supervision and inadequate staffing, this type of living situation ultimately could prove more hurtful than helpful.

The Globe says that about 100 incidents in assisted living facilities, including those involving elder abuse and deadly falls, are reported to the Elder Affairs office every week. Some recent incidents include a Stoughton fall accident involving a dementia patient who wandered into a room and fell out of a window on the second floor, a Framingham elder abuse case involving two staffers that allegedly assaulted two Alzheimer patients and filmed a third resident that wasn’t full clothed, and a Revere trip and fall accident involving a man who fell in the bathroom and bled to death before help finally arrived.

While the state doesn’t mandate minimum staffing levels in Massachusetts assisted living facilities, new employees must undergo at least seven hours of orientation and 10 hours of training every year-this also applies to the assisted living residencies with special care units for dementia patients. The state has not revised its assisted living rules in nearly a decade. There has also been a decline in the percentage of residents that are moved to Massachusetts nursing homes even though the need this more concentrated type of care.

It is unfortunate that Boston elder care abuse continues to be a problem in both Massachusetts nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Unfortunately, many of these residents may be too frail or impaired or sick to report the incidents when they happen. Depending on their health issues they also might be more prone to injury or illness caused by abuse and negligence.

Types of Massachusetts elder abuse:

• Physical abuse, including inappropriate disciplinary measures to get elderly residents to “behave”
• Verbal abuse, including intimidation, threats, yelling, ridicule, bullying, harassment, or ridicule • Psychological abuse • Emotional abuse • Sexual abuse and assault • Elder neglect • Negligent care
• Financial exploitation
You want to speak with a Boston elder abuse lawyer to explore your legal options. Assisted living facility residents and nursing home patients may have grounds for a Massachusetts nursing negligence case against the facility and those directly responsible for the abuse or neglect.

If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of abuse or neglect you should remove him/her from the facility right away and notify the authorities. Your first case consultation with Altman & Altman LLP, our Boston nursing home abuse law firm, is free.

Elder advocates raise concerns on assisted living, The Boston Globe, September 21, 2014
Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Mass.gov