There are (at least) three big elephants in the room when it comes to senior housing.  One has received some attention in the press and the other two seem to get no attention in the industry press:

  • Sexual relationships between Seniors – There have been some court cases and some articles about sexual relationships between residents.  While I have not published anything on the topic, I have seen a few articles written about it.  The issue has received some attention because of abuses or alleged abuses and it is a difficult issue because there are so many seniors who have some degree of diminished capacity.

Within this realm I have not seen anything written about sexually transmitted diseases.  I know that in younger, more active senior communities it has become a significant issue but maybe that is not true assisted living communities.

  • Elopement –  More than a year ago, I attended a breakout session on elopement at the Oregon Healthcare Association Annual meeting.  I was particularly interested because of my relationship with Vigil Health Solutions and our call system designed specifically for residents with dementia who cannot use a traditional call system.

I expected the crowd to be small but it was packed, leading me to believe that elopement is a big issue for many/most senior communities. But, I believe, there is a real reluctance to talk about it because of the possible legal jeopardy.

  •  Excessive Drinking –  There is no question that a significant percentage of the senior population drinks too much.  For the most part they are silent and mostly invisible drinkers, which makes the problem easier to overlook or to treat as a resident’s personal business. That being said, caregivers know: they see the empty containers, the physical symptoms.  The question is really this, if residents quietly drink to oblivion every night in their own room and they are not causing disruptions, is that okay or do we as senior care providers have an obligation to get involved?

This is mostly an article to raise some questions:

  • Do I have it right that these are elephants in the room?
  • Are there other secret or silent issues we should be talking about?
  • If you have stories or thoughts on the silent problems I would love to have you share them as a way to address the issues with more depth either in the comments below or in a private email.

Steve Moran

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