Recently, I’ve come across an article in the New York Times that spoke about the aging population and not only how are our lives are becoming longer and lengthier, but also how our physical and mental capabilities that become ineffective or intolerable around the elderly ages are now becoming problematic for a larger population. No longer are nursing homes or continuing care retirement communities (CCRCS) for aging parents who may become a burden for their adult children. These communities are now becoming homes for not only these senior parents but also their elderly offspring.
Across the country, there are “about 1,925 continuing care communities- in which residents can go from independent living to assisted living to a nursing home as their needs mounts- house roughly 750,000 people, said Steve Maag, director of residential communities for LeadingAge, an industry association for nonprofit senior service providers. Eighty percent are nonprofits. As such, and as far as he and other industry experts know, very few adult children have moved into their parents’ communities.” 
However, as the children of elderly parents are also becoming older themselves, many cannot take care of their elders as they have needs of their own.
Allen Geiwitz’s Story
Within the same article by the NYT, an example of this co-habituating lifestyle of elders and their aging children is of Allen Geiwitz, 71 and his mother Hilda Geiwitz, 95. Mrs. Geiwitz can no longer drive and move around without the help of her son Allen, who takes her to all of her doctors’ appointments. He also ensures that she has a continuing supply of library books and nature videos. In addition, they share dinner almost every evening with three of their friends. Allen is able to check on his mother, while also making preparations for the following day; all in order to not only comfort his mother but also himself. This attentiveness, caregiving and companionship have become much simpler now that Allen can help his mother just by walking down the hall.
When reflecting on his story, you can understand the reasoning for moving into the same retirement community as his mother. As a single man, he was already spending much of his time at his mother’s side, especially since losing his father a few years earlier. Once his mother became more dependent on his help due to having diabetic neuropathy and pulmonary disease, Allen nearly moved into her apartment, but in doing so, he would have lost his independence and may have become isolated. Therefore, once his mother selected Glen Meadows, an affordable nonprofit operated by Presbyterian Senior Living as well as heavy snowfall that took place that winter that made it difficult for Allen to even get to the facility, he decided to move into Glen Meadow also.
While he had to pay $88,000 over the $35,000 that his mother had to pay for an entrance fee, together, each Geiwitz will pay $2,115 in monthly rent this year, which includes meals, activities, housecleaning, laundry and some transportation. By doing so, Allen can eliminate costs that he would gain from his own aging health, while also caring for his mother. He is able to engage with the community in all aspects and save money.
This story in itself is a novelty in its infancy of becoming the norm, as people live longer. However, the communities themselves are not all affordable as the one in the story and many cannot manage to pay for more than one or two family members. There is also a concern about the care within these established homes whereby they are receiving criticism from the legal community.
Nursing Home Abuse
While not all homes are subjected to improper care, most do have discrepancies that counter the safety and care that nursing homes and CCRCs promote. Despite the fact that many are blessed to have parents and relatives that live longer lives, one in 10 elderly people is abused within a given year. Now expand that number to about 750,000 aging adults who are living in these healthcare facilities—the number of abused victims soars. Situations where elderly children can live with or within a community with their parents or relatives, can help alleviate any abuse that may arise from improperly trained staff or overwhelmed facilities who have become careless. Until this becomes more of a standard, abuse will not only continue to happen but also modernize with technology as new forms of transparency in communication hinders privacy.
A few instances within the last few years have shown the scope of abuse that may occur in CCRCs:
- One incident happened where a drunk man in Alabama sexually assaulted his bed-ridden mother while other patients were in the room. Golden Living Center, now closed, housed this mother, along with 80 other individuals who were susceptible to such mistreatment, were shocked when they found out. Within this specific event, a certified nursing assistant walked in but left the man in the room as she went to get a supervisor, rather than remove the man while someone else went or help as the facility’s policy indicated .
- More modern instances involving technology and the issue of privacy have also come to light. In fact, PropPublica has identified 35 instances since 2012 where workers at nursing homes and assisted-living centers have secretly shared photos or videos of residents, some of whom are partially or completely naked. In March of 2015, a nursing home assistant at Rosewood Car Center in St. Charles, Ill., recorded an incident where another assistant used a nylon strap to lightly slap the face of a 97-year-old woman with dementia. On the video, the woman could be heard crying out, “Don’t! Don’t!” as she was being struck. The employees just laughed it off and continued their abuse .
These examples are just two of the many that are reported each year. Of course there are times where events are not reported, therefore making even reported instances a possibly small and inaccurate number. When events such as these arise, elders are subjected to treatment where their privacy and physical as well as mental health are disregarded. When this happens, victims have an array of symptoms and possible signs that can indicate maltreatment. These include: sudden weight loss, bedsores, injuries from falls, dehydration, malnutrition, withdrawal or changes in behavior, lack of personal hygiene or changes to appearance, limited exchange with staff, limited socialization with other residents, environmental hazards (poor lighting, slippery floors, unsafe equipment or furniture)  and instances where employees are constantly on their phones.
Dolman Law Group
Here at the Dolman Law Group, we understand the responsibility and the expectation of CCRCs to care for our loved ones. Many of us have relatives who are living in these assisted-living communities or nursing homes and we only want the best for our elders, just like you. Growing old is a beautiful thing that is a part of life. Due to modern science and medicine, we’ve been able to experience more and live longer. However, the older we get, the more dependent we may become on others for care. Don’t let these healthcare facilities get away with abusing part of life that inevitable for mostly everyone.
If you have any knowledge or indication of abuse (such as a social media post) that confirms a loved one is experiencing abuse or neglect, you must pursue legal action. We are all entitled to the same civil rights, regardless of age. Please call Dolman Law Group today for your claim, the number to dial is (727) 451-6900.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652