Guest Column

Huttle, Wagner Propose Legislation to Protect Senior Citizens with Dementia from Abuse and Neglect

Credits: Walter Pardo, Managing Partner

The treatment of senior citizens with memory loss who reside in group home facilities has come under scrutiny in recent months, culminating in the announcement of legislative action by two members of the New Jersey Assembly.

Memory Care Living at Potomac Homes, a company that operates a score of such facilities in New Jersey, has been accused of abuse and reelect of its resident patients. In on case, a senior citizen with dementia wandered four blocks from a residential facility and was found standing alone in a vehicular intersection. In another case, a Hoboken priest, whose 89 year-old aunt resided in one such facility, complained that he found her alone, unconscious and abandoned, without having been bathed for days or weeks. The priest insisted that his aunt be hospitalized, yet the staff dragged their feet before doing so. The aunt died only days later. According to the Bergen Record, State inspectors have found Memory Care Living at Potomac Homes to be a “chronic offender.”

These reported incidents have resulted in Assemblywoman Valerie Vanier Huttle (D., Bergen) and  Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D., Bergen/Passaic) to initiate legislation that would “improve state oversight in order to combat abuse in these facilities.” According to Assemblywoman Huttle, who chairs the Human Services Committee, “I am concerned about the lack of accountability and oversight of these facilities cited in the report... The incidents are too many and too disturbing to ignore. Individuals with Alzheimer's are especially vulnerable and we must ensure that they are receiving appropriate care in a safe environment. This is a health and safety issue and a consumer issue."

Memory Care Living of Potomac Homes advertizes its program as follows: “Our mission is to create stimulating, safe and supportive surroundings in our memory care homes, maintain an essential connection with the resident and their family, while helping the family with the complexities and challenges of dementia.”

Assemblywoman Wagner points out that "Placing a loved one in a home is often a difficult decision. These diseases are debilitating and require a level of care that many are unable to provide at home. The incidents cited in this report are heartbreaking... Families who entrust the care of their relatives to these facilities should have the peace of mind that their loved ones are getting the care they need and require."

 The Guest Column is our readers' opportunity to write about a given issue or topic in an in-depth and educational manner.

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