Dementia Patients Fuel Assisted Living’s Growth. Safety May Be Lagging.

They found Bonnie Walker in a pond behind her assisted living facility in South Carolina. There were puncture wounds on her ear, her temple, her jaw and her cheeks.

Her pacemaker was inside one of the alligators that lived in the pond.

Like four in 10 residents in assisted living facilities, Ms. Walker, 90, suffered from dementia. Shortly after midnight one day in July 2016, she slipped out of her facility, Brookdale Charleston, as she had done a few days before. This time, no one noticed her missing for seven hours.

“No one should have to pass away that way,” her granddaughter Stephanie Weaver said.

Assisted living facilities were originally designed for people who were largely independent but required help bathing, eating or other daily tasks. Unlike nursing homes, the facilities generally do not provide skilled medical care or therapy, and stays are not paid for by Medicare or Medicaid.

Dementia care is the fastest-growing segment of assisted living. But as these residences market themselves to people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, facilities across the country are straining to deliver on their promises of security and attentive care, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of inspection records in the three most populous states.

– The New York Times

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