If your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, you may need to consider admitting him or her to a locked memory unit. There are very nice, caring places available. But you can’t just drive your loved on with dementia or Alzheimer’s to the facility and drop them off. Why? Because one of the issues is that dementia and Alzheimer’s patients tend to wander. They can also be violent or suffer from hallucinations. That’s when the patient requires powerful psychotropic medications. And placing a person in a locked memory unit and authorizing certain psychotropic medications requires special authorization. How do you get this authorization? How can you admit your parent to a locked memory unit?
The number of cases of dementia and Alzheimers Disease is on the rise in Arizona. In 2015, there are 120,000 Arizonans age 65 and older who have Alzheimer’s disease, according to a Arizona Alzheimer’s Task Force report. This number is expected to increase to 200,000 by 2025, representing the second highest projected growth rate in our nation.
What is a Locked Memory Unit?
In Arizona, if you see a care facility that says it has a “Memory Unit”, that refers to a Behavioral Health Inpatient Facility. According to R9-10-101 (24), of the Arizona Administrative Code:
“Behavioral health inpatient facility” means a health care institution that provides continuous treatment to an individual experiencing a behavioral health issue that causes the individual to:
a. Have a limited or reduced ability to meet the individual’s basic physical needs;
b. Suffer harm that significantly impairs the individual’s judgment, reason, behavior, or capacity to recognize reality;
c. Be a danger to self;
d. Be a danger to others;
e. Be persistently or acutely disabled as defined in A.R.S. § 36-501; or
f. Be gravely disabled.
How to get the authorization to admit your loved one to a locked memory unit.
As you can probably imagine, you can’t just take anyone to a memory care facility and have them admitted against their will. It is possible to admit a person for a 72-hour hold at a Locked Memory Unit. That is intended to be sufficient time to get the person evaluated and figure out if additional help is needed. But, if you don’t do anything further, after the 72 hours is up, the person can be released. (For some older people who obviously cannot take care of themselves, a memory unit may continue to hold the person even though this is technically not permitted.)
During this 72 hour window, you should get the person evaluated by a psychiatrist or psychologist. There is a special report that needs to be filled out. If the doctor says that the person needs inpatient treatment, then you can file a Petition to get appointed as the person’s guardian with mental health powers. The “mental health powers” are additional powers over and above just being able to dictate where the person lives. They authorize the placement in at Locked Memory Unit and also the prescription of psychotropic medications.
If you have a loved one who you believe needs to be placed in a Locked Memory Unit, you should contact an attorney. This article did not cover the court procedures that are involved. It is complicated. For starters, there will be a court appointed attorney who will represent your loved one, and may fight the granting of mental health powers. Also, a Court Investigator will be looking into the situation. Unless you have someone guiding the process, it’s possible that the mental health powers will get denied, and you won’t be able to admit your loved one to a Locked Memory Unit.
This articles was not intended as legal advice. If you need help, contact us. We will have you sign a fee agreement and represent you through the court process.