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A common misconception we hear from families is that their loved ones living with Dementia need to be Baker Acted and possibly put in a psych ward or nursing home. While some families are completely against Baker Act, others do not realize the effects of it or alternative options that can be taken. This is why education is crucial and something North Star Senior Advisors would like to address. First of all, what does Baker Act mean?
Baker Act allows government officials, doctors, and mental health counselors to initiate a procedure where individuals experiencing some sort of mental breakdown are involuntarily institutionalized for a short time.
Due to significant demographic changes over the last couple of decades, one can argue that the Baker Act is now being forced or the only way in some family’s eyes to address an immediate issue – dementia — for which it was not largely intended.
Let’s paint a picture here with a recent client of ours that was experiencing a similar situation.
One afternoon, a daughter gets a call from her mom’s caregiver who explained she had been acting out. Cursing, trying to leave the home and above all else, threatening to cause harm. However, she did have Dementia. In any other case, Baker Acting someone might be the way to go, but not always, especially someone with a known Dementia diagnosis. Even with this in mind, the caregiver called authorities to have her mother Baker Acted, aka, taken away to a mental hospital to be treated for her symptoms. She was not aware there are alternative options, and who can fault her? The system needs fixing, and she simply did not know who else to call.
Once her mom was in the mental hospital, no one educated the daughter on what to do next. They kept this woman in the hospital for 72 hours with no specialized medical treatment. She did not get to take her prescribed medications and was not treated for what we later learned was a severe UTI. For those that don’t know, seniors are susceptible to UTI’s which may alter their mental status.
Fortunately, this woman’s daughter contacted North Star Senior Advisors, who specializes in helping those with Dementia and any Dementia-related diseases locate a memory care assisted living in Central Florida. At first, she was still apprehensive and believed her mom needed to be in a “nursing home” with a “psych ward”. But once we informed her that Memory Care communities are just like Assisted living but solely dedicated to engaging those with Dementia, she felt a whole lot better.
Assisted Living is an environment for those still active that need some help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, medication management, etc. The community offers housekeeping, home-cooked meals three times a day, activities to participate in and much more! Memory Care is an extension of assisted living that caters to those living with Dementia in a secured environment with more oversight from specially trained staff. All activities are geared toward those living with Dementia and each individual living there has access to the same meals and amenities with their own unique care plan to follow.
Our North Star Senior Advisors nurse did a consultation with the daughter and suggested that her mother needed to seek treatment for a UTI by a physician as well as guided her to a Memory Care community in Orlando, 10 minutes from her home. Within the first 2 weeks of moving into memory care, her mom showed no signs of aggression and actually acclimated quite well! She couldn’t believe how much her mom calmed down. In reality, sometimes, all that is needed is an adjustment of medications and a constant routine to help ease the anxiety of those living with Dementia which Memory Care is intended for. Please know that if our client’s mom was a continued threat to herself or others, she would not be appropriate for memory care. Assisted Living Facilities with Memory Care have to ensure that their residents and staff are safe at all times and cannot have a physically combative or aggressive resident in their facility.
Thanks to dementia care training such as Certified Dementia Practitioners, we now know that much disruptive behavior among dementia sufferers is actually from inadequately trained individuals that simply do not realize what they are doing to trigger such behavior. With improved and specialized training, this type of approach can ultimately be avoided. All Memory Care staff must undergo some form of Dementia Training, and many do become Certified Dementia Practitioners like all Senior Advisors are here at North Star Senior Advisors. We take pride in ensuring each team member completes this expert training so we can better assist you and your loved ones who are going through such a sensitive and urgent time.
North Star also wants to clarify we are not condemning the Baker Act but suggesting that there are other options to take when it is applied to individuals with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Also, know that there may be times Baker Acting someone because they are threatening to harm themselves or others is required. These individuals, your mom, dad, sister, brother, friend or family member should never be placed in a general area of those that may actually need a mental hospital or similar, i.e drug addicts, psychotics, and suicidal patients. Unfortunately, that is what happens when someone calls to have their loved one Baker Acted which leaves them feeling even worse and even more confused than before.
Our advice is to Baker Act if you or your loved one are under imminent threat of physical harm. Call North Star Senior Advisors at 407-796-1582 and let a Certified Dementia Practitioner help guide you to a Memory Care community that best suits your loved one’s needs.