Skip to comments.Gov't warns on use of psych meds in nursing homes
Posted on 05/14/2011 6:48:08 PM PDT by TennesseeGirl
WASHINGTON A new government report says many elderly nursing home residents suffering from dementia may be victims of overmedication with strong anti-psychotic drugs that could harm them...
The Health and Human Services inspector general says that in 2007, more than 300,000 nursing home residents got powerful drugs meant for treating serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
But nearly 90 percent of the time, the prescriptions were for patients suffering from dementia, a condition for which the anti-psychotic drugs are not approved. (excerpted)
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
Ration the drugs in nursing homes so we can run methadone clinics in the inner cities.
There is no doubt too many older patients are placed on these meds. Often, older patients with dementia get aggressive and these meds calm them down. Makes the nursing home more tolerable for other residents and staff. One trouble is the cost though most will be going generic soon or already are.
This is true about the effectiveness of the drugs, and if it’s true about the nursing homes it’s a major scandal. Medications known to date that suppress psychotic symptoms in patients without Alzheimer’s and similar dementia diseases of the elderly, do nothing to help similar symptoms which result from these diseases. But it’s a profit stream for the nursing home pharmacies, and frustrated doctors might prescribe them “just in case” even when it becomes apparent they aren’t doing any good and are causing the patient only discomfort.
They put my elderly aunt on anti psychotics and it wasn't sad at all, it was a blessing. She had Alzheimer's, she didn't know much about anything pre drugs and the drugs didn't change that but it sure calmed her down.
There are calmative drugs which don’t heap on a lot of side effects, but they aren’t “antipsychotics” either and so probably get ignored.
Once they are generic the profit motive will be gone. Therefor use will most likely decline.
Under ObamaCare, there will be a drastic reduction in medications for the elderly, and that may be a good thing. They have been cash cows for Big Pharma for years, believing the outrageous TV commercials for expensive drugs that often do more harm than good.
Picked up my mother in a Florida hospital after a nurse took me aside, at the risk of losing her job, and told me to get my mother the hell out of this place. I can never thank that nurse enough.
Nursing homes don’t have the physical plants to encourage “independent” moving around—which dementia patients need. These folks shouldn’t be in nursing homes, but facilities specializing in dementia/alzheimer’s.
As a result, these meds are used to control rather than address real medical issues.
Anyone who has walked the halls of a nursing home with obviously medicated people lining the walls in wheelchairs has to swallow hard just thinking of it.
In many instances...
We’ve abandonned the raising of children to schools and day care. We’ve abandonned the honoring of our elderly by hiding them at ‘the home.’
So we can have stuff and the latest car and great vacations.
These people are the ‘stuff’ of life. They only want our time.
These statements do not apply in all cases.
It is tough because the feeble and demented can’t give much feedback about how they are feeling.
My Great Aunt complains of pain, but she can’t lucidly show anyone where it is. They give her mental meds. They seem to calm her down, so I suppose they help her feel better, but she can’t really articulate much.
I am not her Conservator and can’t do much agitating on her behalf.
OMG. Thanks for posting this. We have a friend who was diagnosed with dementia and put on an an anti-psychotic. We had a feeling something wasn’t right. He started developing symptoms of Parkinson’s, which the doctor then prescribed meds for - and he more then doubled the dose of the anti-psychotic.
Within a couple weeks time, our friend was a literal zombie. He ended up in the hospital nearly dieing from dehydration. That’s when we thought we’d better step in. His wife was a mess and couldn’t handle anything. We started researching his meds. The anti-psychotic specifically says NOT to be prescribed to people with dementia. Two of the symptoms were - Parkinson’s symptoms and severe dehydration.
It didn’t end there. His wife suffered a nervous breakdown and ended up in the psych ward. He was still having problems and ended up back in the hospital. We were able to get in touch with their family who lives abroad. The grand daughter got here almost immediately. Finally, our friend was taken to a different doctor for evaluation. He had been misdiagnosed. He does not have dementia.
My beloved husband of 45 years has Parkinson’s, and almost died this past February. It appears that the Parkinson’s specialists overdosed him on the drugs used to control the symptoms of this.
My only comment is... that our present “ideation” on the chronic illnesses of aging is the use of drugs.
Most of these have horrible side effects. We go to the docs, hoping for relief from the incurable aging problems, and they feel obliged to prescribe whatever the pharmaceutical companies are selling.
It is too hard for them to tell us the truth, that many of these have no safe pharmaceutical fix. In other words, there is no “rose garden pill” when the body begins to wear out, and the side effects from the various drugs may be worse than the original complaint.
We have lost our souls, because we are searching the wider and easier path. This applies to all generations, young, middle, and old.
There is no longer any social contract. Child-bearing adults farm out their young to day care, so they can chase the “good life” of shopping for modern artifacts, while their parents are forced into senior communities, so the children can afford day care, two cars, and whatever is “au courant” at Williams Sonoma (or maybe a copy from Target).
We have truly lost our way.
Unfortunately, there are no miracle treatments or medications that universally help all those suffering from the effects of dementia. Spend some time in nursing homes like I have (as a CNA) and you’ll see victims of various mental diseases screaming all day or exhibiting other signs of obvious distress. Often, the only relief they have is by medication that might be intended for other purposes.
I don’t pretend to have the answer to the problem but I know first hand that the simplistic explanation that it’s nothing more than a conspiracy to keep money flowing to the Big Pharma coffers is not correct. There are millions of Americans who are nearing the end of their lives in physical and emotional pain and truly need powerful (if hazardous) medication to help ease their suffering.
i am sorry to hear of your husband’s ailments. prayers for him, you and your family. i think people who are ill need to have advocates who are keeping track of what’s going on - and willing to question the doc/s as to what and why. i agree, we have lost our way.
what really shocked me was when we went to the doctor with our friend. the doctor talked to our friend’s wife like he wasn’t even in the room. it felt more like a vet visit. the doctor said if our friend was removed from the drugs, he would become mean and sarcastic again. he was never mean - sarcastic, yes. that’s one of the things we loved about him and something he hasn’t gotten back - his sarcastic wit. i thought ‘oh, crap’. if sarcasm is considered something that must be controlled by drugs - i’m screwed.
like all medicines, sometimes you have to use them.
For example, a small dose of anti psychotics for delusions and paranoid symptoms from dementia
But a lot of nursing homes use them to keep the patients quiet because the staff is lazy, or the nursing home is so understaffed that the alternative (behavioral treatment) is impossible.
So what does he have?
We grappled with this a few years ago with a loved one. He developed delusions which frightened him and made his care very difficult. He thought that shadows were rats, nursing home employees in the halls were plotting an overthrow, he was scared of the toilet . . . When the mind becomes damaged by disease, it can cause a lot of distress and pain. We resorted to psych meds, which helped calm him considerably, but also sedated him more than we thought wise. We reduced his levels somewhat, but it was all in his final weeks, and ultimately, there was no good solution. It is a cruel condition.
Anyone who has not been in the positiion of providing psychiatric consultation in nursing homes, as I used to do, has very shakey grounds on which to form an opinion in this matter.
Most shrinks skilled in psychpharmacology stay the hell away from these places now - those who don’t prescribe, or who have no responsiblity for trying to get these people to function better, have ended up dictating treatment options to those who do, aided by the media and the gullible public.
I’m not quite following what you’re saying. Who is it that you’re saying is dictating treatment?
Apparently, he was mildly depressed. From what we’ve ascertained through research, depression in older folks is often misdiagnosed as early stage dementia. Otherwise, he healthy. What I don’t understand is why he didn’t speak up for himself. When this all started, his wife was the one pushing for meds. He never tolerated them well and had lots of side effects. The guilt of that is what contributed to her nervous breakdown.
Exactly. We just asked my fil’s doctor to put him on Ativan to keep him calmer. He has vascular dementia and his short term memory is gone. When I leave after visiting he gets agitated because he wants to go with me. All he can think about is going home.
Those are his only real symptoms so anything stronger would just turn him into a slobbering vegetable.