It’s common knowledge that everyone faces a greater number of health concerns as they age. Nursing homes are designed for patients who require 24-hour monitoring to ensure they get the proper care for specific conditions. For seniors with fewer health concerns, moving to an assisted living facility allows them to live more independently than nursing home residents while still providing some health-related services. The more lax requirements could place seniors at risk for additional health issues or for known problems to become more severe. Here are five common health concerns for ALF residents.
Congestive Heart Failure and Stroke
Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death in America. This can be seen in ALFs and nursing homes by the number of patients who suffer from congestive heart failure (CHF) or a stroke while in managed care. Congestive heart failure is a condition caused by the heart’s inability to maintain adequate circulation of blood due to weakness. ALF can help residents living with congestive heart failure by preparing the right kinds of foods for the resident, ensuring they take their medication, encouraging physical activity, and programs that can reduce stress. The same tactics can be used to help people at risk for a stroke. In a survey of Residential Care Facilities conducted by the Center for Disease Control found 13 percent of residents suffered from heart failure and 11 percent of residents had a stroke.
Assisted living facilities are best for patients who can no longer live on their own but who don’t require the level of care needed for nursing homes. Incontinence is one of those issues that may convince seniors and their family members to consider at-home care or moving to an assisted living facility. ALFs are used to handling these issues, and they can provide the appropriate level of assistance if the issue is discussed openly with the resident during the assessment process. The CDC report cited earlier found that 30 percent of facilities reported 70% of residents had urinary incontinence during the last seven days, and that all facilities worked with issues in one way or another. Poor handling of incontinence issues can cause health problems for the resident and could be considered elder neglect depending on the situation.
Another common issue that ALFs deal with is rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a common autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joints. The result is joint pain and increased inflammation in the body. ALFs can alleviate the worst symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by including exercise, diet plans, and programs specifically designed to alleviate joint and muscle pain in people with arthritis. The CDC study on residential care facilities found that more than one in four (27 percent) of residents in care facilities had arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Anemia is another fairly common problem for seniors that can have adverse effects on their overall health. According to the CDC, one in ten (10 percent) residents had anemia. This prevalence is why it’s recommended that physicians test for and treat anemia in older adults. Depending on the cause of the anemia symptoms, there may be ways for ALFs to help residents. For example, eating a diet rich in iron and vitamins helps prevent iron deficiency anemia and vitamin deficiency anemia.
Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia
In the CDC’s Residential Care Facilities study, 42 percent of the residents had Alzheimer’s disease or a form of dementia. Though many people think that all cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia require nursing home care, that it’s always the case. Depending on the progression of their condition, seniors could remain at home or move to an assisted living facility. ALFs and nursing homes should be aware of the needs of residents facing age-based cognitive declines. Facilities should employ best practices, like comprehensive assessment and care planning strategies that provide a customized approach for helping each patient and ensuring a well-trained staff implements this approach.
Because the issues mentioned in this article are common, a good ALF should already have programs in place to help residents with these common problems. If you feel an ALF has neglected your loved ones by failing to treat common health concerns, the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A. can help. Send us a message online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your concerns.