Study: Assisted living facilities providing inadequate psych care

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While dementia and other psychiatric disorders were found to be quite prevalent among residents of several Maryland assisted living facilities, researchers found the care for these residents lacking.

Of the 198 randomly selected assisted living residents in the study by Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 67.7% of residents were diagnosed with dementia, but only about half had been adequately evaluated and treated. Researchers found that residents' family members and caregivers did, however, recognize about 80% of the cases, but treatment rates were still low.

Similarly low rates of treatment were identified for another 26.3% of residents who were suffering from other psychiatric disorders, primarily depression and anxiety.

"Dementia and psychiatric disorders are common in assisted living [facilities] and have suboptimal rates of recognition and treatment," states Dr. Adam Rosenblatt, lead investigator of the Maryland Assisted Living Study. "This may contribute to morbidity and interfere with the ability of residents to age in place."

Researchers also noted in the study report published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that assisting living facility staff may not be prepared to manage mental and behavioral disorders, because assisted living settings are designed for cognitively normal elderly people with minor functional limitations. The consequences, according to researchers, are greater.