Assisted living homes’ cash woes left elderly in lurch

Assisted living homes’ cash woes left elderly in lurch

Caregivers kept working, bought meals with own funds

By LISA DEMER Anchorage Daily News
Published: August 28, 2005
Last Modified: August 28, 2005 at 01:00 PM

A couple who ran a string of mom-and-pop assisted living homes in Anchorage virtually abandoned 20 frail and elderly residents in their care as the Sweet Lorraine’s Home Care business slid into financial turmoil, according to state investigators.

The administrator in charge of day-to-day functions stopped buying food. Staff paychecks bounced. Alarmed relatives couldn’t find out what was happening. Families of some residents who paid months in advance couldn’t get refunds.

But it could have been worse.

As the Sweet Lorraine’s enterprise came apart, the workers stayed on the job even when they weren’t being paid. Caregivers bought food for residents with their own money. And when state officials realized the extent of the problem, they and the staff moved quickly to make sure all the residents had a place to stay as they closed down the five homes, family members said.

The decision to put an elderly relative in a home comes with built-in anxiety: Will the place be clean? Will caregivers treat your mother or your uncle well? What if there’s abuse and you don’t know about it? What if there’s a medical emergency?
Sweet Lorraine’s had a good reputation with social workers and home health care workers, Spoon said. Caregivers walked with their charges outside. No one sat around all day propped in front of the TV. Spoon liked that she could pop in at will.

“They seemed to be the best fit,” Spoon said. “I think I didn’t ask the right questions.”

State health officials said the home turned out to be unlicensed and shut it down in July. The administrator was asking families to pay too much extra money in advance, the investigation found.
More and more Alaskans will soon face the challenge of finding good care. In Anchorage, the number of people age 65 and older is growing at five times the rate in the country as a whole. In five years, their numbers are expected to swell by 10,000, to nearly 23,800, according to a June report by the Institute of Social and Economic Research that relied on U.S. census data.

A popular option is assisted living, which provides help with daily life — eating, dressing, walking, taking medications, going to the bathroom, and bathing. The first licensed assisted living homes in Alaska opened just 10 years ago. Their numbers have boomed to nearly 450 statewide as of June 30.

Most are private homes that serve three to five residents in family neighborhoods. Some specialize in the elderly, others in people with disabilities.
Assisted living homes are a growth industry.

3 Responses to “Assisted living homes’ cash woes left elderly in lurch”

  1. 1 Debra 2006 September 5 at 12:19 am

    What does it take to open a loving caring home to assist the elderly in there every day needs?

  2. 2 vuee 2006 September 5 at 11:46 am

    Depends a lot on state and local laws. Also depends on what level of assistance you want to offer.

    I would suggest first to check on “personal care assistant” training at a local college, to see what skills and licensing is needed at a minimum. A lot of times, the greatest need is to help people “age in place”, in their residence.

    My second suggestion would be to check with the Area Aging Office in your locality.

    Another possibility, depending on your interests and your house, is to modify your house to provide a separate apartment or living space that is accessible for an older tenant. This would be as a simple rental.

    Be sure to check “Growing Older”, Liz Taylor’s columns on choosing eldercare, which will give you an idea of the standards to attain. Link is there on the right, More to Share.

    Obviously, there is a variety of situations, even at the small scale. Yours is the first question related to this issue. Let me know what you find out and I’ll share it here.

  3. 3 Suzanne Williamson 2007 March 21 at 8:52 am

    Hi. I am building an assisited living home here in Kasilof for three people. Do I need a liscene to open it up. I have been told that there are not as many restrictions for three people as their are with five. I did go by code on the window openings and have three doors for escape in case of fire and built a wheel chair ramp and the bedrooms are all the right amount of feet. It is a 1800 square ft house that I built for them. Also put a handicapped shower and tiolet for them. I was wondering how do I go about getting the elderly in my home. I have 35years experience in taking care of the disabled. I f you could could you please contact me back. Thanks

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