There’s an article in the New York Times today about resident abuse at Nursing Homes. It’s great (in terms of coverage). And horrifying (in terms of how older adults are being treated).
Nursing Homes are Drugging Residents into Submission
More than one in five nursing home residents are prescribed antipsychotics. These prescriptions aren’t in response to symptoms antipsychotics are designed to treat.
They’re being forced down residents because drugs keep them docile and easier to manage. Reminiscent of McMurphy being lobotomized in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Caring for residents—especially residents with dementia—is expensive. Employees have to respond to wandering and aggression. With docile (or even semi-comatose) residents, nursing homes have to hire fewer employees. That saves them money.
Risks Associated with Antipsychotics
- Heart Problems
The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer
In our society, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
They aphorism applies to nursing homes. Nursing homes with poor staffing are the worst abusers of antipsychotics.
Evolution did not End with us Growing Opposable Thumbs
Our practice is constantly evolving. It reflects changes in society and the fact that we’re getting older. Two of the macros are (1) cars are getting safer and (2) our population is getting older.
Right now, the majority of our cases involve car and motorcycle wrecks. We’ve handled nursing home cases for over 20 years. But I don’t think we’ve had more than one or two in the office at a time. That’s changing.
I bet in the next five years at least half our work is going to involve the way seniors are treated by medical providers and at care facilities.
Many of these cases will involve falls. Some will involve drugs that were prescribed to make life easier for the nursing homes, not for the residents.
Do You Know Someone Who’s being Given Antipsychotics for the Wrong Reasons?
Almost everyone knows someone who is in a nursing home. More and more frequently that translates to: Almost everyone knows someone who is being abused.
There are two kinds of people. People who speak up when they see something bad happening and those who don’t.
Be the kind that speaks up. Older people deserve our respect. It’s our obligation to help them. And if everything’s above board, what’s the harm in raising the issue?