CBS News – Assisted Living Investigative Coverage
(CBS) Dennis Camarata lost his father in a way no child could imagine.
At age 83, Mike Camarata was healthy and active “” but dementia had turned him almost childlike. So his family placed him in an assisted-living facility in Michigan because it would feel more like home, CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports.
“They encouraged you to wander around,” says daughter-in-law Mary Camarata. “He would go in the refrigerator and drink orange juice out of the jug.”
In April 2004, Mike Camarata drank from a jug he found in an unlocked kitchen cabinet. But he wasn’t drinking juice “” it was a toxic, industrial dishwashing detergent containing lye.
“The chemical just literally burned his entire mouth and then burned him all the way down,” says Dennis.
Four days later, Mike Camarata died what Dennis calls “a horrific death.”
So how could a toxic chemical be stored, unlocked, in an Alzheimer’s wing? One reason: Unlike nursing homes, the nation’s 36,000 assisted living facilities “” places designed for seniors who don’t need constant medical attention, just a little extra help “” are not subject to any kind of federal regulation. A CBS News investigation has found that state laws are literally all over the map.