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Deadly antipsychotic drugs make work easier for nursing home

Placing your loved one in a nursing home was not an easy decision. You may have tried as long as possible to be available to help your loved one at home, or perhaps you even moved him or her into your own home. However, if your loved one suffers from symptoms of Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia, the situation likely became increasingly difficult to manage.

Whether it was an overload of little details or one terrifying moment that made you realize you were not qualified to provide the kind of care your loved one needed, you gave every effort to finding a facility that seemed staffed and capable to protect your family member. Since then, you may be noticing unsettling changes in your loved one, and it is not something you should dismiss too easily.

How bad is the problem?

A recent report by a national human rights organization found that nearly 200,000 residents in long-term care facilities in Texas and across the country receive antipsychotic drugs that the FDA does not recommend for their conditions. In fact, many of the drugs have "black box" warnings because they carry a high risk for death. Nevertheless, nursing home staffs regularly use them to medicate residents whose conditions may make them challenging to manage.

You understand that the degeneration of your loved one's mental state results in behavior that is difficult to manage. This is why you opted to place him or her with trained professionals who can deal with such issues. Like other families, you may be shocked to learn that, without your knowledge or permission, the staff has dosed your loved one with medications that are inappropriate and potentially lethal.

Is there a good excuse?

Some of the reasons why a nursing home staff may use antipsychotics on a dementia patient include the following:

  • Antipsychotic drugs have a sedating side effect.
  • Nursing homes are often understaffed, and employees do not have time to deal with the time-consuming needs of a dementia patient.
  • Patients taking antipsychotic drugs are easier to handle and tend to wander less frequently.
  • Antipsychotic drugs can bring calm to a dementia patient who is feeling agitated or aggressive.

While some of these reasons may seem like rational excuses, elder care experts say there is never a reason to sedate an Alzheimer's or dementia patient with antipsychotic drugs that pose a serious health risk. There are numerous ways to manage dementia patients, including keeping them comfortable and engaged in stimulating activities. If your loved one has suffered ill effects from antipsychotic medication in a nursing facility, you have the right to seek advice about your legal options for pursuing justice.

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