Smith & Stallworth, Attorneys at Law Articles Overmedicating Elderly in Nursing Homes is a For of Abuse

Overmedicating Elderly in Nursing Homes is a For of Abuse

By Smith & Stallworth  Jan. 25, 2011 5:20p

A problem exists in many nursing homes that is a travesty to the elderly - namely, the overmedicating of dementia patients. Many of these men and women who were once productive, contributing members of society and who raised families are now being medicated, sometimes with heavy anti-psychotic drugs to keep them subdued. Care givers sometimes mistake the physical complaints of the patient with unruly behavior and quiet them down with a drug as it's the easiest thing to do. In a forum on December 8th, a panel of experts told the Senate Aging Committee that this is a "looming problem" in the U.S.

Accountability of Nursing Homes

"Nursing homes must be accountable for the drugs they administer" said Patricia McGinnis, Executive Director of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. She told the forum that in many of the homes, the manner in which these anti-psychotic drugs are being used is a form of elder abuse, and that these are being used as a substitute for providing quality, individual care for the patients. The elderly are not always easy to handle but there are other alternatives to drugs that can do more harm than good.

Better Solutions Can Be Used

According to Laura Gitlin (PhD, and director of the Jefferson Center for Applied Research on Aging and Health) at Philadelphia's Thomas Jefferson University, another alternative is to use non-drug approaches and teach care givers special skills that are tailored to the needs of the elderly to help them with communication, sleep problems, handling depression and other common age related difficulties. Gitlin apparently has created an occupational program which incorporates meaningful activities for senile dementia patients according to their individual capabilities.

An additional solution is to establish work schedules with nursing home staff to enable them to spend more time with individual patients to foster better, more quality relationships and reduce the drugs. If you have a loved one that may be a victim of elderly abuse in the Tampa area, you need to contact a Tampa personal injury attorney as quickly as possible. If abuse is occurring, it could be a matter of life and death when drugs are involved. At Smith & Stallworth, we specialize in personal injury law including handling elderly abuse cases and we can help set things right.

Contact a Tampa Elder Abuse Lawyer in our office for a free consultation and we will review the details of your case.

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