Prescription medicines enable many seniors to live healthy, active and longer lives. It also enables them to avoid serious health complications from existing medical conditions.
It is a problem when nursing home staff administer medications as chemical restraints. Family members need to be aware of the risks of overmedication and unnecessary chemical restraints in nursing homes.
A growing danger to senior safety
Many of the nation’s nursing homes do not have enough staff to properly run the facilities. Inadequate staff-to-patient ratios make it harder for caregivers to provide the level of care and proper attention residents need. Workers become overworked and tired and may find it difficult to focus on their patients’ needs. Staff members may not want to take the time to discover what issues may be contributing to a resident's difficult behavior. Sometimes, rather than addressing the cause of the behavior, nursing home staff may request that the health care provider prescribe sedatives for residents who suffer from serious cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia to keep the individuals quiet and still.
Sadly, this use of antipsychotic drugs to chemically restrain and subdue seniors is very common.
Severe health complications and death likely
The effects of unlawfully administrated drugs on seniors can be catastrophic. Antipsychotics contain mind-altering substances that can lead to a wide variety of health complications in seniors when they are not used properly. Residents may develop an unhealthy dependency or experience a loss of muscle strength and mobility, confusion, depression, anxiety, seizures, cardiac arrest and even death.
In many situations such as these, staff may not inform family members that their loved ones are on medications, even though nursing homes should seek informed consent. They must also maintain a current list of medication for all residents. Requesting this list and monitoring it and keeping a careful watch on a resident's mental state may help a family member to detect over-medication.