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What is a chemical restraint?

If you've heard that a chemical restraint was used in a nursing home, there is a good chance you're hearing about a case of direct nursing home abuse. For those unfamiliar with the term, it's very wise to know just what this means when putting a loved one into an assisted living center.

A chemical restraint is a psychoactive drug. It's given to an elderly person in order to control him or her, making life easier on the staff. While the use of antipsychotics drugs is not illegal when they're needed and beneficial, it's illegal under federal law for the staff to do this for their own convenience.

For example, one family complained when they said the nursing home staff was giving their loved one a mix of drugs just to quiet her down. They said the staff kept handing out more and more medication, saying the woman was "agitated." What they were giving her, though, was a mix of drugs that were supposed to be used for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The specific drugs she got were called Risperdal and Seroquel.

Of course, the lines can get blurry here since many people in nursing homes are supposed to be on medication. The key is that that medication is intended to be used to help those with existing medical conditions, not to control them or to make it easier for the staff to do their jobs.

Do you think the staff has been abusing medication at a nursing home where your loved one resides? If so, it's very important that you understand the federal laws governing this practice and all of the legal options you have.

Source: NPR, "Old And Overmedicated: The Real Drug Problem In Nursing Homes," Ina Jaffe, accessed Dec. 15, 2016

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