The Dangers of Overmedication in Nursing Homes

When our loved ones need a higher level of care, whether they have dementia or are at risk for falling, we sometimes have to pick a nursing home as their new home. Nursing homes are supposed to provide excellent care along with ways for residents to enjoy an engaging lifestyle. Attentive nurses, regular exercise, and social activities all help seniors’ sense of wellbeing and leads to a high quality of life.

But this isn’t always the case. Nursing home residents can suffer from abuse that takes a serious toll on their health. Elder abuse can happen in many ways: Physical, emotional, financial, social, and more. If you think your loved one is a victim of elder abuse in Georgia, an Atlanta elder abuse lawyer from Bey & Associates can help. We’ll do all we can to get compensation for your loved one.

The Reality for Nursing Home Residents

Since nursing homes are supposed to provide care and a community, you’d think that nursing home residents would be healthier and happier. But the reality is the opposite. Nursing home residents are more likely to have medical conditions, functional and cognitive problems, and usually take a lot of medication. They also have less economic resources and family to take care of them.

Because of these factors, nurses have many responsibilities to handle. In understaffed nursing homes, this could create a stressful environment where the staff can’t provide the care that the residents need. But why do nursing home residents have more health complications than seniors who live at home?

Misusing Antipsychotics

Nursing homes can overmedicate their residents to try and make it easier to care for them, even though they don’t have the condition the medication is for. A report looking at overmedication in nursing homes showed that many institutions didn’t follow federal regulations that prevent overmedication. 88 percent of the drugs were given to patients with dementia, who were treated with antipsychotics meant for schizophrenia. The FDA warns that these drugs also have an increased risk of death, but this didn’t stop the institutions from administering the drugs.

The report also noted that there was evidence that drug companies pushed their drugs to the market for seniors, with knowledge of how deadly the drugs could be. A side effect of overuse of antipsychotic drugs use is the strain it puts on essential government programs like Medicare. About 14 percent of nursing home residents used Medicare to get the drugs, but many of those claims that were paid shouldn’t have been covered because there wasn’t a true medical reason to take that medication.

When the drug companies marketed to nursing homes, the institutions didn’t follow federal regulations for drug use. This resulted in one in five residents taking dosages that were too high or they were on the medication for longer than usual.

Noticeable Behavioral Changes

Distressed family members can see the change in their loved one. Marie Sherman decided to place her mother, Beatrice DeLeon, in a nursing home for fall safety reasons. The nursing home started giving DeLeon medicine because she was agitated and making a lot of noise. But this is illegal and known as “chemical restraint.” When Sherman would visit her mother, she’d see two versions of her. The medicated version wouldn’t be present at all, and the lucid version would constantly plead to get out of the home.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home and you notice an abnormal change in behavior, the reason could be overmedication. It’s important to know that prescribing medication for people who don’t have the condition it’s meant for is illegal and immoral. You can stand up for your loved one in court and get them the justice they deserve.

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