When an elderly person needs more care and it is decided to put their loved one into a nursing home, the family doing so, is trusting the doctor and the staff to take good care of their loved one. When someone goes to visit the loved one, it would be expected to find the elderly person doing well in the new surroundings and one would leave with the reassurance that there’s nothing to worry about. But is there something to worry about? Is it safe to leave a senior in a nursing home just because it seems like a nice facility?

 

What would you think if you found out that your parent or grandparent was being treated in their nursing home with unneeded psychiatric drugs? A particular type of psychiatric drug, called an antipsychotic, is often used in nursing homes. It has been found that “way too many patients in nursing homes are treated with antipsychotics purely to sedate them or to control behaviors that are difficult for the staff.” As an example, in Massachussetts alone, 2500 nursing home residents were given antipsychotics when there was no diagnosis or condition warranting such medication.” It appears that these drugs are being given to nursing home residents to keep them quiet and make them easy to handle for the doctors and nurses.

 

To make matters worse, antipsychotics have a long list of very undesirable side effects such as tardive dyskinesia which is a neurological condition producing uncontrollable muscle movements. I don’t think anyone wants to go for a visit at the nursing home and see their loved one abnormally quiet or twitching uncontrollably. So I ask you, is your elderly relative safe?