Sunday, March 22, 2009

AP IMPACT:Mentally ill a threat in nursing homes***

CHICAGO – Ivory Jackson had Alzheimer's, but that wasn't what killed him. At 77, he was smashed in the face with a clock radio as he lay in his nursing home bed.

Jackson's roommate — a mentally ill man nearly 30 years younger — was arrested and charged with the killing. Police found him sitting next to the nurse's station, blood on his hands, clothes and shoes. Inside their room, the ceiling was spattered with blood.

"Why didn't they do what they needed to do to protect my dad?" wondered Jackson's stepson, Russell Smith.

Over the past several years, nursing homes have become dumping grounds for young and middle-age people with mental illness, according to Associated Press interviews and an analysis of data from all 50 states. And that has proved a prescription for violence, as Jackson's case and others across the country illustrate.

Younger, stronger residents with schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder are living beside frail senior citizens, and sometimes taking their rage out on them.

"Sadly, we're seeing the tragic results of the failure of federal and state governments to provide appropriate treatment and housing for those with mental illnesses and to provide a safe environment for the frail elderly," said Janet Wells, director of public policy for the National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform.

Numbers obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and prepared exclusively for the AP by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show nearly 125,000 young and middle-aged adults with serious mental illness lived in U.S. nursing homes last year.

click on link to finish reading this report.

The Nursing Home Experience for My Dad

This report brought to mind my father being in LakeBridge nursing home in Johnson City the last 11 months of his life. If only one could relive the times we make mistakes, wrong judgments, I definitely would. But we can't relive anything.

I recall going to see my father one day and found him with huge dark purple bruises in several places on his arms and face. As I surveyed him, I thought he'd had a terrible fall. I immediately went to the desk and questioned the nurse there. She seemed hesitant to respond to my questions and finally told me that Mr. Mustard, his roommate had beaten him during the night for trying to get into (wrong) Mr. Mustard's bed. The staff found my father curled up under his own bed sometime during the night. I do not know to this day the truth of the matter, only that my father was severely bruised. Why were we not called about this immediately?

Later I was told by a close friend, who also was a friend of Mr. Mustard's wife that he had tried to choke his wife to death while she dozed in a chair. Fortunately Mrs. Mustard awakened in time to fight him off her. Did not the nursing home know of his actions before being admitted to their care; that he was violent? Maybe; maybe not.

Dad was a very frail tiny man compared to Mr. Mustard. He only weighed about 90 pounds and moved very slowly in a confused and weakened condition as is usually the case with the elderly ill and so the reason he mistakenly tried to get into the wrong bed. We insisted this man be moved out of my father's room but instead, my father was moved from a room he had become familiar with over the many months in it.

From that day he went downhill very fast. Some weeks later,we insisted he be taken to the hospital after finding him unresponsive on the bed with his lips, hands and feet vibrant purple and his face very pale. The nurse didn't show much concern and I was shocked and livid with her attitude. My brother immediately came and arranged for an ambulance.

The next day, the case doctor informed us that our father was completely malnourished and dehydrated and that he was dying. He said dad would live about three weeks. This was information that was very hard to digest. He lived a total of thirty six days after the doctor's diagnosis.

As insurance only covered so many days in the hospital, we were forced to replace him back in the same nursing home to die, where he was put in a room with a 19 yr old boy from Philadelphia, who had been shot during a gang fight. I believe he was paralyzed from this gunshot. Nevertheless, this did not stop him from having his television very loud, playing his CDs overly loud and talking very much with his many visitors and on the telephone.

Requesting that my father be moved to another room to die in peace and quiet, when they refused my request that they ask the boy to tone down his noise, they refused this also. So my father lay dying amid all this horrible noise, which could be heard a distance down the hall when I walked down it.

Finally, once when walking in and seeing vomit and undigested food filling an oxygen mask on my dad's face and no staff anywhere to be found, my brother made immediate arrangements to take him to his home. Dad only lived three days after all the horrible experiences of being in a nursing home.

There were many which I have not spoken of. On two different occasions with the same male nurse, my dad was hit very hard on the back and again slammed down into his wheelchair. We filed a complaint against this man. It was determined by the state of Tennessee that nurse R. Carter could never work in Tennessee again. Less than 4 months passed and we found he was working at Four Oaks, another nursing home just a short distance from Lakebridge. How did this occur?

I saw for myself what goes on in nursing homes and made the decision that never, again would any of this family be put in one to suffer further; for this is exactly what happens often. But we do not know what will happen in the future. It may be the only solution for one of us as we get older. I sincerely hope not.

Much of what goes on in these nursing homes is kept hidden from families. I literally dreaded walking into LakeBridge for all the ineptness I saw happening. It was a nightmare that took several years for me to recover from. A sick or elderly person deserves to be treated with kindness, gentleness and security in their last days but it appears to be just the opposite in many cases.

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