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Dangerous caregivers for elderly
Date:7/10/2012

CHICAGO --- If you hire a caregiver from an agency for an elderly family member, you might assume the person had undergone a thorough criminal background check and drug testing, was experienced and trained for the job.

You'd be wrong in many cases, according to new Northwestern Medicine research.

A troubling new national study finds many agencies recruit random strangers off Craigslist and place them in the homes of vulnerable elderly people with dementia, don't do national criminal background checks or drug testing, lie about testing the qualifications of caregivers and don't require any experience or provide real training.

"People have a false sense of security when they hire a caregiver from an agency," said lead study author Lee Lindquist, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "There are good agencies out there, but there are plenty of bad ones and consumers need to be aware that they may not be getting the safe, qualified caregiver they expect. It's dangerous for the elderly patient who may be cognitively impaired."

(See Lindquist's "10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Caregiver" below.)

The study will be published in the July 13 issue of the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.

Lindquist, a geriatrician, personally has seen a number of bad caregivers accompanying patients in her clinic. "Some of the paid caregivers are so unqualified it's scary and really puts the senior at risk," she said.

Lindquist had a 103-year-old patient whose illiterate caregiver was mixing up her own medications and the patient's medications. The caregiver was giving her own medicines to the elderly patient by mistake. Another patient had dropped 10 percent of her weight and developed pressure ulcers because her caregiver was not properly feeding her or getting her out of bed.

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Contact: Marla Paul
marla-paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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