In the days before nursing homes were under so much regulation, many homes used heavy medication to "manage" residents. Elders who slept most of the day, as well as all night, didn't require as much staff time. Therefore, many homes considered drugging people efficient and cost containing.
Anti-psychotics were frequently prescribed when people had dementia. For some, a light dose may have been just the right thing, but one medication doesn't suit all elder issues. Gradually, nursing homes came under more intense scrutiny about safety and most states put strict guidelines in place about hygiene, restraints and, of course, medications for the convenience of the staff.
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There are still many states where these rules aren't strong enough, or if they exist they are not well enforced. Talk to any group of people with loved ones in a nursing home and you are bound to find a few who feel that too much medication is given.
They may be right. However, my experience was the reverse. My loved ones – several of them over many years – lived their last years at a nursing home just two blocks from my home. Whenever there was a medication change, I was notified. The reason for the prescription was discussed. If there was an antibiotic prescribed, the need was explained. Rarely, over the course of the full 15 years that I had loved ones in the home, did I have a medication complaint.
When I did, it was because the prescribing doctor made it too hard for the nursing home staff to get their hands on an "as needed" prescription for my dad's panic attacks. The physician didn't let them keep enough on hand. Of course, Dad's worst episodes were on weekends – Murphy's Law in action. Also, of course, the doctor wasn't around on weekends.
Getting Dad his desperately needed dose of a drug used to treat anxiety was often a nightmare. Dad had dementia that kicked in after brain surgery. Frequently, he would have panic attacks so severe that if people...
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