The sad truth is our seniors have to put up with the inability to feel safe in even a nursing home today. Because of the rise of mental patients being placed in nursing homes instead of mental institutions, the frail and elderly residents are virtually trapped in their rooms. And sometimes not even this helps to protect them.
Due to the increased number of beds in nursing homes and decreased beds in mental facilities the slack is being taken up by the nursing homes. If the option of staying in their own home is feasible, more people are choosing this option. The closing of mental institutions due to inadequate funding is another reason for the placement of the mentally ill in nursing homes.
The Elderly are Paying the Price
– Do you remember reading of a case in Chicago, Illinois? An elderly resident of a nursing home in this city was killed as he lay in his bed. The killer was a 44 year old mentally ill man who smashed Ivory Jackson repeatedly in the face with a clock radio until he died. The stepson of Ivory Jackson, Russell Smith wonders why they did not keep a mentally disturbed killer away from his father.
– This is not an isolated incident. In Connecticut a woman started a fire in a nursing home where she was staying in Hartford. The fire killed 16 people but the woman was found not competent because she had dementia, depression and multiple sclerosis. The woman was admitted to a mental hospital where she should have been in the first place.
– The year was 2006 and in a South Toledo nursing home, Norbert Konwin died. He was 77. This happened 10 days after he was beaten with the towel bar from the bathroom. The accused, Sharon John Hawkins was not competent to be tried in a court of law.
Why Place the Mentally Ill and Seniors Together?
Why are mentally ill patients being put in the general population with those who are too frail to take care of themselves? The reasoning is simple. If the mentally ill who reside in nursing homes is numbered under 50%, the government will supply Medicaid for their care. If it goes over 50%, the classification changes to that of a mental institution and the funding is taken away.
If you are thinking of finding a nursing home for an elderly parent, aunt or grandmother, you had better check it out very well. Find out if they also care for the mentally ill. If so, find another nursing home that does not. Often the staff is not equipped to deal with the mentally ill. This requires a totally different training than taking care of the elderly. The mentally ill roam the halls, going into rooms where they do not belong and those who cannot defend themselves are the ones that suffer. Sometimes they may be a room mate of the elderly person.
As in the case of 77 year old Norbert Konwin, his room mate was actually the one who murdered him. Nursing homes are admitting mentally ill patients even though they know they have a history. In one particular case, a young man suffering from bipolar disorder allegedly raped a 69 year old nursing home patient. The nursing home knew he was considered violent yet left him unsupervised.
Why do we put our mothers and fathers in the position of having to try to defend themselves after they are too old to do so? Are we so careless that we do not take the time to check out the home in which they will be living? Regardless of the sense it may make when it comes to the money received by the homes for caring for the mentally ill, our elderly have the right to live in a safe environment free of fear.
Investigate the home you are considering and make sure there are no lurking dangers for the parents who raised you. After all, you owe it to them to see that they can live the rest of their life in a safe, secure environment. They protected you when you could not protect yourself. Return the favor and keep you relatives safe.
resource – Carla K. Johnson, AP Medical Writer