When it comes to the medical care of your elderly mother or father, your job consists of more than just finding the right nursing home. The staff can begin to use unacceptable methods once your parent begins living at the new residence. These behaviors are not limited to abuse and neglect. Another common but less well-known nursing home horror is the unnecessary use of antipsychotics on patients. You need to be aware of this issue to ensure it does not happen to your mom or dad.
The causes behind the problem
One reason for the excessive drug use is abuse. It is easier to subdue and give inferior care to a drugged patient than a lucid one. However, the likelier reasons are pharmaceutical influence and staff issues. Greedy pharmaceutical companies push their products on doctors and pharmacies, often using unethical methods and promoting unapproved drugs.
Also, the staff may not have correct or sufficient training and, combined with the drug push, may believe the information they receive regarding the use of antipsychotics. Although there may not be malicious intent behind it, it does not excuse their ignorance.
The facility not having enough staff can also contribute to the problem. When there is not enough people to care for patients, staff members may feel they have no choice but to handle the problem through drugs. It can seem like the easy way out now, but in the long run it will lead to lawsuits and other trouble because of the harm caused to patients.
The consequences of overusing antipsychotics
Overmedication comes with severe consequences, and even more so for the elderly with compromised health and little control over their medical care. Antipsychotics are meant for people who are bipolar or schizophrenic, and are not appropriate for people who are old and frail or have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. The negative effects the drugs can have on such patients include the following:
- Memory loss
- Personality changes
The law mandates that nursing homes receive informed consent from the patient or the patient’s family. Always make sure you know what medications your parent takes, how much and why. Stay involved in the medication of your mom and dad. Ask questions and seek second opinions to ensure your parent is getting the proper care. Do not assume that the facility is following all the rules.
By taking a proactive approach, you can prevent the unnecessary use of antipsychotics on your mother or father. If you discover it has already happened, seek legal assistance immediately from a qualified attorney.