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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Boxing Legend Joe Louis' Sister Found Frozen to Death

An article on CNN caught my attention this morning, but not for the reasons you might think. Famed boxing legend Joe Louis's 92-year-old sister, Vunies High, was found frozen to death outside an assisted living facility. On the surface, this is a sad story. But, there is something very disturbing about it when you look a little more closely.

This woman had Alzheimer's (commonly mis-spoken as 'Old Timers'). She was 92. She was in an assisted living facility which means there was supposed to be care and monitoring. She was 'last seen' on Sunday, but 'found' on Monday.

My grandfather had Alzheimer's before he died, and because of that I learned a few things about how they behave and how to help keep them safe. One of the biggest concerns with Alzheimer's patients is that they wander. To combat that, you do simple things like putting door locks, etc out of their direct line of sight (like just above their eye level). You put alarms on doors so every time they are opened, a sound chimes - thereby alerting the caregiver.

Why was this woman outside, and why was she not being monitored more closely? Why were simple precautions commonly used with Alzheimer's patients not in place for her? An assisted living facility commonly charges an outrageous amount of money for the 'promise' of  it being 'assisted' living. They are supposed to be doing regular medical checks, monitoring the patients; and are supposed to have top-notch safety and security features in place to keep their 'residents' (paid clients) safe.

This facility failed miserably. Before you or your loved one moves into an assisted living facility, please be sure to check out their record, and check for all the little details about how they care for someone in you or your loved one's condition. It may well be a matter of life or death as evidenced by the tragic death of Ms. Vunies High.

What have YOUR experiences with assisted living facilities been?

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