It’s a fear that many people have – that they or their parents will end up in a nursing home unable to care for themselves and becoming overmedicated. The fact is that many nursing home residents are suffering from Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia which can make them aggressive or anxious. That makes them difficult to care for. And for nursing home workers who are overworked in a facility that is understaffed, the solution, unfortunately, is to medicate such individuals. This often leads to overmedication. An estimated 179,000 people living in nursing homes receive antipsychotic drugs each week although they have no mental illness for which such drugs are intended.
Signs of Overmedication
It is difficult enough to make the decision to send your loved one to a nursing facility. But, sometimes that is the only option and is required to ensure the safety of your loved one. A nursing home should be a place where residents receive adequate care while being kept safe. However, some residents go downhill fast once they’ve entered a nursing home. This is sometimes due to the fact that they are being overmedicated. If you have a loved one who resides in a nursing home, then you should look out for the following signs:
- Dry mouth or ulcers
- Withdrawal from friends and family
No one knows your loved one like you do. In addition to the obvious signs that something is not right, if you notice anything at all out of the ordinary for your loved one, it’s time to get involved and start asking questions.
What To Do If You Suspect Overmedication
A person who resides in a nursing home is there because they can’t care for themselves or because living alone has become too dangerous. So, the one place you would expect them to be safe and to continue to enjoy their life would be a nursing home. In fact, the U.S. government pays billions of dollars to nursing homes to ensure the most vulnerable people, which are those residing in nursing homes, are protected from abuse and receive proper care. However, even with strict regulations in place to protect those who live in nursing homes across the country, overmedication is still a significant problem. If you suspect your loved one is being overmedicated, you must take immediate action.
- Report the suspected overmedication. Every nursing care facility is regulated by a government agency. You can report the suspected overmedication to that agency. Because such reports are time-sensitive, it is imperative that you report your suspicions in a timely manner.
- Move your loved one to another nursing home. If you feel that overmedication continues to be a problem, research other facilities and talk with your loved one about a move. They may resist your efforts especially if they’ve established friendships and a routine. But, you may be able to persuade them if they can understand why the move is in their best interests.
- Contact an attorney. After you’ve reported the problem to the appropriate authorities and have taken the necessary steps to ensure your loved one is in a safe environment, your next step is to seek the advice of an attorney. If it can be proven that the nursing home was negligent and overmedicated your loved one, it is possible they will be awarded compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Physical pain and suffering
Pay attention to your loved one. If you notice changes in their personality, behavior or physical or mental abilities, you might be dealing with overmedication. You’ll want to take the necessary steps to deal with this problem before your loved one suffers physical or mental damage.
Laurence Banville. Esq is the managing partner and face of Banville Law. Laurence is licensed to practice law in the state of New York. Originally from Ireland, Banville moved to the United States of America where he worked at law firms, refining his litigation and brief writing crafts. He is also the recipient of the Irish Legal 100 and the Top 40 Under 40 awards.