Regulations Sought for Alzheimer's Care
Regulations Sought for Alzheimer's
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
February 06, 2004
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News - February 06,
2004 TALLAHASSEE, Fla. --
The two daughters of Charles Klaer,
who live on opposite ends of Florida, saw each other
last month at their fathers funeral.
There were together again on Thursday to tell state
legislators that their beloved father might still
be alive if the state had stronger regulations for
assisted living centers housing Alzheimers patients.
Last month, Klaer, 72, wandered away from the Willow
Manor center in Dania Beach and was killed by a car
when trying to cross Federal Highway about 1 1/2 miles
away. The staff never reported him missing, and the
electronic monitor that was to have been placed on
his ankle later was found in Klaers drawer.
"Our father would want us to do whatever it takes
to make sure this doesnt happen to anyone else,"
Beverly Fletcher, of Gulf Breeze, said during a break
in the 2004 Alzheimers Summit. Convened by House
Speaker Johnnie Byrd, the all-day gathering brought
policy makers, Alzheimers agencies and medical
professionals together to discuss how to better serve
Floridas 400,000 Alzheimers patients.
The Klaer sisters and their mother, who wore handmade
buttons bearing a picture of Charles Klaer, did not
get a chance to tell their story to Byrd, whose own
father has Alzheimers disease, or to the roughly
two dozen other lawmakers attending.
But they hope to testify during the 2004 session and
talk about what they think Florida needs: routine
head counts of residents in Alzheimers units,
mandated reporting of missing residents to police,
and secured doors with alarms.
The state does not require assisted living centers
to do these things, although many do.
While the family is suing the facility, they say advocacy
is their new mission. The Klaers have joined forces
with the state branch of the national Alzheimers
"Its a wake up call for Florida,"
said Dorothy Klaer, of Fort Lauderdale. She thinks
her husband slipped out of Willow Manor to try to
get back home to their waterfront condo or to Port
Everglades, where they both once worked.
Several speakers at the summit discussed the need
for police officers to form coalitions with social
service agencies and care facilities.
Melissa Otto, an investigator and elder abuse specialist
with the State Attorneys Office in Brevard County,
said police recruits spend about four hours learning
about abuse and neglect in the academy and never receive
any further training throughout their careers.
"Were requiring police to be social workers
without degrees," she said, suggesting that mandatory
refresher courses on dealing with seniors be required.
Byrd, R- Plant City, was noncommittal about the chances
for new regulations or additional police training,
but said he would support more money for the states
memory disorder centers, which run research, diagnostic
and caregiver support programs. "Anything extra
we can give to them will be good," he said.
Gov. Jeb Bush also has pledged $11 million in his
budget for Byrds pet project, a research center
at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
A big chunk of time at the summit was devoted to how
to keep Alzheimers patients safe and prevent
them straying from care facilities or their own homes
-- the primary legislative push for the Alzheimers
Association this year.
Meredith Rowe, a University of Florida professor and
researcher who has studied wandering, said the majority
of Alzheimers patients who die before they are
found are located within a mile of where they last
were seen. Usually they have been missing for more
than a day and appear to have been trying to hide
in brush or under leaves, she said. One womans
body was discovered about 400 yards from her care
facility, four years after she disappeared.
"We need to educate law enforcement how to more
effectively search for these people," said Rowe,
who advocates mandatory Alzheimers training
for police, similar to the regular refreshers they
take on domestic violence.
To see more of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel -- including
its homes, jobs, cars and other classified listings
-- or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.sun-sentinel.com.
(c) 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Distributed
by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.
150 Muir Road (127A)
Martinez, CA 94553-4612
Telephone: (925) 372-2485
Lawrence J. Ellison Ambulatory Care Center
4860 Y Street, Suite 3900
Sacramento, CA 95817
Telephone: (916) 734-5496