Keeping your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia at home is a good choice if you want to be in control of the quality of their day-to-day care. But, there may come a time further down the road where a full-time nursing home facility will have to take over.
Be sure to do your research before making that decision. Tragically one in five patients in the nearly 15,500 nursing homes in the country are given dangerous medications to control behavioral issues. These antipsychotic drugs, intended for people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other severe mental health issues, are deadly to people with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
According to a report from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, “They can dull a patient’s memory, sap their personalities and crush their spirits.”
Tony Edelman, an attorney for the Center for Medicare Advocacy, said, “The misuse of antipsychotic drugs as chemical restraints is one of the most common and long-standing, but preventable, practices causing serious harm to nursing home residents today.”
It’s a nationwide problem that “stems from inadequate training and chronic understaffing, as well as an aggressive push by pharmaceutical companies to market their products.”
A March 2014 report by the inspector general of Health and Human Services stated that, “Too many nursing homes fail to comply with federal regulations designed to prevent overmedication, giving patients antipsychotic drugs in ways that violate federal standards for unnecessary drug use.”
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is working “to correct deficiencies in nursing facilities, including the inappropriate use of medications.”
It’s encouraging that there are facilities taking action to train staff “to deal with behavior issues thoughtfully and creatively, without resorting to drugs.”
That’s the kind of compassionate place to find for your loved one.