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Letter: Dementia units need staffing

More and more seniors looking for personal satisfaction

More and more seniors looking for personal satisfaction or a little extra money have found jobs as home health aides, one of the few fields where older workers are in demand. Credit: iStock

"Drugs and dementia" [News, April 5] revealed a great deal about the misuse of psychotropic drugs. However, the article failed to include assisted living facilities with on-site dementia units.

My mother spent her last two years in a private, for-profit assisted living facility with an enhanced license for residents with dementia. Unfortunately, as the article noted, it's up to facilities to determine appropriate staff-to-resident ratios, which they self-report to the state. While most caregivers were loving and well-intentioned, neither staffing nor training increased to meet the level of care required.

Dementia patients suffer from a phenomenon called sundowning, which means their symptoms worsen as the sun sets. Sadly, so does the caregiver-to-resident ratio. Especially at night, facilities don't have the capacity to offer alternative treatments such as music and aroma therapy, which have been shown to reduce the need for psychotropic drugs.

Joan Marie Lockwood, Huntington