Researchers Claim Dementia Patients at Increased Risk of Death Following an Emergency Evacuation

Although nursing home residents in Chicago are unlikely to be evacuated due to a hurricane, any number of unexpected disasters may potentially cause them to become displaced. A study recently presented at the Gerontological Society of America’s yearly meeting found that long-term care facility patients with dementia were 218 percent more likely to die within 30 days of a hurricane evacuation than at any other time. In addition, the same population allegedly experienced a 158 percent increase in mortality within 90 days of an evacuation.

The three-year study reportedly tracked and evaluated more than 21,000 residents of skilled nursing facilities situated along the nation’s Gulf Coast. The lead author of the study, Lisa Brown, a Professor of Aging Studies at the University of South Florida-Tampa, said it is unclear why death rates are higher for certain nursing home patients following an evacuation. Brown stated although government guidelines currently emphasize physical safety during an evacuation, mental health issues are not being sufficiently addressed. According to Brown and her colleagues, between 50 and 70 percent of the estimated 1.6 million skilled nursing facility residents nationwide suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia disorder. Brown said the high risks related to relocating such patients merit “sheltering in place” during a natural disaster.

All federally certified nursing homes must provide workers with emergency preparedness training and have a written emergency plan in place. Unfortunately, a survey of long-term care facilities allegedly found that most are not sufficiently prepared for a disaster and failed to include about half of all necessary tasks on emergency checklists. According to Brown, a succession of natural disasters like those that recently occurred following Hurricane Sandy also make nursing home residents and employees less resilient. She reportedly believes further research regarding how to best maintain the mental health of both populations should be conducted in the future.

Most skilled nursing and other long-term care facilities in Illinois receive Medicare and Medicaid funds. This means they are certified nursing homes. As a result, caregivers and administrators who are employed at Illinois certified nursing homes must adhere to both state and federal laws and regulations. Although most nursing homes in our state provide quality patient care, some may fall through the cracks. If you believe a friend or loved one died as a result of the conditions they were subjected to while in the care of an Illinois long-term care facility, you should discuss your concerns with an experienced attorney.

If you believe your elderly or disabled family member was not properly cared for by a skilled nursing facility in Illinois, please contact the dedicated lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. Our knowledgeable Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys are available day and night to help you protect the rights of your elderly and disabled loved ones. For a free consultation with an experienced Illinois lawyer, please do not hesitate to give Abels & Annes, P.C. a call at (312) 475-9596 or contact us through our website.

More Blogs:

Illinois Nursing Home Residents at Risk for Contracting Deadly Drug-Resistant Superbug, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, December 30, 2012
Study Finds Anti-Psychotic Drugs Are Over-Prescribed in Veterans Affairs Nursing Homes Located in Illinois and Throughout the Nation, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, December 21, 2012
Additional Resources:

Report: Deaths rose after nursing home evacuations, by Janice Lloyd, USA Today


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