Assisted living facilities must provide a high standard of care for their residents, and those that provide care for Alzheimer’s and dementia residents bear an extra duty of care to those residents. Unfortunately, not all assisted living facilities live up to the high standards expected of them.
The Ashley Gardens Alzheimer’s Special Care Center, located at 2290 Henry Tecklenburg Dr, claims to offer memory care services to its residents. Unfortunately, many Hughey Law Firm clients have come in over the past several years with claims against Ashley Gardens and its staff. Our firm has helped in several successful claims against Ashley Gardens and the caregivers in its Alzheimer’s Special Care Center.
What Services Should Residents Expect From a Memory Care Center?
Memory care centers are supposed to offer a high standard of service to their residents—not just the usual services that seniors expect when they enter a nursing home, but a host of additional memory care-specific services, including the services described here.
Assistance With Activities of Daily Living
As symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia progress, many residents need assistance with activities of daily living: tooth brushing or denture care, medication management, showering or bathing, and keeping the bedroom or unit clean and tidy, for example.
In a memory care unit, caregivers often provide assistance and support with many of those services. Centers like Ashley Gardens, which should protect residents from unnecessary cognitive deterioration, must strike a careful balance between providing the support that seniors need without doing tasks that they should perform on their own.
Once seniors move into a memory care unit, they generally no longer have the capacity to cook on their own safely. They may lose track of items on the stove, forget how to make a recipe, or mix up basic ingredients, all of which can lead to disaster in the kitchen. As a result, most memory care units take care of all meals for residents, whether they deliver them directly or take residents to restaurants or cafeterias for those meals.
Memory Aid Services
The Alzheimer’s Society recommends numerous tactics for residents with memory loss that can help keep their brains sharp for as long as possible: using their memories as often as possible, journaling, sharing photo albums and stories, and listening to music. Many memory care centers not only focus on helping support seniors as they lose their former capabilities, they also provide them with basic services to help them maintain their memories for as long as possible.
Social Interaction and Activity Direction
Social interaction can decrease the likelihood that a senior will develop dementia and can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s in many residents. Memory care centers often focus heavily on social interaction for their residents, providing activities and outings they can enjoy to help prevent further mental deterioration. A lack of social interaction can cause depression in seniors and leading to a faster mental decline. This makes these social interactions and activities a critical part of a stay in a memory care unit.
24/7 Oversight from Qualified Staff
Seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia often struggle to maintain a basic level of safety as they go about their daily lives. They may forget where they are, how to safely navigate stairs, or that they should not go outside and wander in the middle of the night. to keep those residents safe, caregivers must provide 24/7 observation.
They must remain on hand not just during the day, when residents can move about the unit, but also at night, when residents should remain asleep in their beds. In addition, memory care units often have special locked doors that help prevent residents from getting through, but allow easy access for nurses and visitors.
Common Examples of Negligence and Abuse in Assisted Living Facilities and Memory Care Units Like Ashley Gardens
Negligence in assisted living facilities, particularly memory care units, can occur in a variety of ways. We describe some of the most common scenarios below.
In memory care units in particular, staffing ratios are of utmost importance. If too few staff members can keep their eyes on every resident at all times, residents are more likely to wander off or get hurt in some way. Unfortunately, many memory care units like Ashley Gardens struggle to keep up with adequate staffing. Understaffing, including failing to schedule enough staff members during each shift, can lead to further staffing complications, as stress levels rise among staff members.
A lack of attention can cause immense problems in memory care units. Some of the residents in facilities like Ashley Gardens may babble, speak without thinking, or share inappropriate information, which can decrease the odds that staff members will listen to them when they have something important to say. Inattention, however, can prevent staff members from picking up on potential problems, including residents showing signs of pain or distress. Inattention can also make it harder for staff members to take note of where residents go and what activities they engage in, which can increase the risk that a resident will slip out of the memory care unit and end up in trouble.
Lack of Needed Care
In some instances, staff members fail to provide the care that seniors in the facility deserve. They may not, for example, take care of hygiene rituals for each resident every day. They might leave residents in unwashed clothing or fail to change bedding and clothing after an accident.
In some cases, caregivers may neglect basic medical care: they might fail to give residents the medication they need to manage the symptoms of diagnosed ailments and problems, leading to increased symptoms of those conditions.
Caregivers might even fail to provide adequate food for their residents or fail to offer them adequate water, which can prove particularly problematic for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia, who may struggle to remember to drink on their own. Over time, lack of appropriate care can lead to increased risk of infection, dehydration, or malnutrition in residents.
Failure to Provide Medical Care
Some staff members may note potential injuries or illnesses, but fail to contact the resident’s doctor and ensure that the resident receives needed medical care. Sometimes, staff members fail to report illness or injury because they fear repercussions for previous acts of negligence, like failing to change a bandage or make sure the resident received medication on time.
In other cases, staff members might fail to report medical problems because they do not want to handle the paperwork or because they do not feel they have adequate time to deal with the resident’s particular challenges. Unfortunately, that can lead to deteriorating overall health and increasing symptoms for the resident.
Neglecting Social Interactions
In addition to the other services offered by memory care units, senior care facilities must provide the opportunities that seniors, particularly those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, need to maintain their mental and emotional health, including social interaction opportunities. In some facilities, caregivers may emotionally abuse residents by withholding needed contact, or fail to provide them with the opportunities they need to interact with other community members. That’s why many seniors may see a downward trend in their overall health.
Types of Abuse
Typically, abuse of a senior occurs in one of four ways: physical, emotional, sexual, or financial. Alzheimer’s and dementia residents are often particularly susceptible to certain types of abuse because they have trouble speaking out about their treatment or because no one believes them when they try to talk about that abuse.
- Physical abuse. Physical abuse occurs any time a senior suffers pain or intimidation from a caregiver. Caregivers may strike, shove, pinch, or try to intimidate seniors with threats of pain if they do not comply with their demands. Often, physical abuse occurs because the caregiver wants to have power over the senior in some way and uses physical threats or pain to accomplish it. Sometimes, loved ones notice obvious signs of physical abuse, including increased bruising or unexplained injuries. Other times, seniors may show signs of fear when a specific caregiver approaches.
- Emotional abuse. While physical abuse relies on the victim’s fear of physical pain or of the abuser, emotional abuse may show in more subtle ways. Sometimes, emotional abuse occurs when a caregiver withholds affection because of the senior’s actions. Other times, the caregiver might use cruel statements or language to press the senior to comply with specific instructions or to make the senior feel unwanted. Emotional abuse often leads to a deterioration of the victim’s physical capabilities as well as mental state.
- Sexual abuse. Any time a caregiver or other individual within the facility forces sexual contact upon a senior, this could constitute sexual abuse. Sometimes, residents experiencing sexual abuse may withdraw. Other times, they may start acting out or engaging in overtly sexual behaviors they have never done in the past. Patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia often do not have the mental capacity to consent to sex and any sexual contact with a resident of an Alzheimer’s care center should receive a careful evaluation.
- Financial abuse. Often, when they move into an Alzheimer’s care center, seniors no longer have control over their own finances. However, they may have access to spending money or the ability to continue to access their accounts. Abusers may target them for money, from insisting that they give up their money to telling “sob stories” designed to elicit sympathy and encourage a resident to “help” the caregiver financially. In extreme cases, financial abuse can drain a senior’s available funds and make it impossible for the senior to get needed care.
Did Your Loved One Suffer Negligence or Abuse as a Resident of Ashley Gardens or Another South Carolina Alzheimer’s Care Center?
If you suspect that your loved one suffered abuse or negligence as a resident of Ashley Gardens or another Alzheimer’s care center in South Carolina, act quickly to protect your loved one as much as possible.
Step One: Document
Have you noticed obvious signs of abuse, such as signs of restraints placed on your loved one or unexpected bruises? Has your loved one shown increasing signs of neglect, such as dehydration or malnutrition unrelated to refusal to eat? Has your loved one wandered away from the memory care unit or failed to receive needed services because of staff negligence?
Any time you notice signs of abuse or neglect, document them quickly. Note the date and time as well as any specific signs. Take photos of bruises and other injuries.
Step Two: Report
In the aftermath of their past lawsuits, Ashley Gardens claimed to implement new policies designed to provide a higher level of care for the seniors in the facility. If they fail to adhere to that higher standard of care, the governing body needs to know about it. Report your loved one’s neglect or any problems you may have faced as soon as possible so that staff members can make changes to address those concerns and increase the quality of your loved one’s care.
Step Three: Contact the Hughey Law Firm
At Hughey Law Firm, we have already successfully handled several claims involving senior negligence at Ashley Gardens Alzheimer’s Special Care Center. If you believe that your loved one has suffered negligence at the hands of those staff members, a civil claim can help your loved one seek the compensation needed to rebuild their life while holding those caregivers responsible for the acts they committed. Contact us to learn more about your family’s right to file a claim.
Learning that your loved one suffered abuse or neglect in a facility where you intended for them to receive a high standard of care, like Ashley Gardens, can prove devastating for the entire family. An attorney can help you determine how to move forward with a claim. Contact Hughey Law Firm today to learn more. You can reach us at (843) 881-8644 or through our contact page.