If you have a relative in a nursing home who is suffering from dementia, you might want to question the staff about the medications he or she receives. Antipsychotics are frequently prescribed for patients in these homes; the side effects are upsetting and can even lead to their early demise.
When dementia patients exhibit symptoms such as yelling, screaming, and hitting, doctors have been readily prescribing antipsychotics. These drugs are most frequently administered by understaffed care facilities but are not exclusive. The General Accounting Office is chastising the Department of Health and Human Services for failing to curtail administering antipsychotics to those who suffer Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia who live outside of nursing homes.
Recent research has uncovered that the most serious side effect of the drugs increase the chance of death especially if a psychosis is also part of the patient’s diagnosis.
Statistics revealed by the investigation disclosed that in nursing homes approximately one-third of dementia patients received antipsychotic drugs, and 14 percent were given prescriptions for the drugs who lived outside of care facilities.
The GAO recommends additional education be provided not only for nursing care facilities, but also for those who care for patients who live away from group homes who offer 24 hour care.
By James Turnage