Georgia bills push to keep elders in assisted living

By Mackenzie Patterson - bioemail

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) - The struggle to care for the elderly is a problem many families are facing, but two bills making their way through the Georgia legislature might make things a little easier.  The bills would allow assisted living homes more responsibilities when it comes to administering medication to residents.

Bedie Rhodes has lived in her own apartment at The Gardens at Calvary Assisted Living in Columbus for four years.

"If I had to leave here and go into a nursing home.  Frankly, it would break my heart," said Rhodes.

However, this is what Rhodes and other residents of assisted living homes face.  Assisted living homes do not have a specific license in Georgia.  Instead, they fall under personal care homes.  This lack of definition limits their ability to give medicine.  They can only hand it to residents at the prescribed time.  Staff cannot physically put any medication in the resident's mouth or administer any kind of shot.

Lisa Dodgen, Executive Director at the Gardens at Calvary, explained to News Leader Nine this forces some residents into nursing homes.

"We've become their family, and I'm sure that's the case in many of the assisted living communities.  Then to ship them off for their end of living with a whole new group of people, that's very sad," said Dodgen.

House Bill 405 and Senate Bill 178 define an assisted living home as a facility with at least 25 beds.  While the legislation does not grant as intensive medical care as a nursing home, under the bill assisted living staff could actually administer a resident's medicine or even give insulin shots.  Dodgen supports the bills saying the bills would also help families.

"Time to go look for skilled care, and then place them, and then help them readjust; this can be very stressful for families," said Dodgen.

the bills have passed through committees.  now, they still has several steps before it can be set in stone.

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