United States: Oversedation in Nursing Homes
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United States: Oversedation in Nursing Homes

My name is Charlene Wagner. My husband is Allen Wagner. Charlene: Hey Allen? Allen: What? Charlene: How are you feeling today? Allen: Fair. He has been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. And before that, used to be very happy, jokester,
kind of loving caring man. Why are you so sleepy today? Hey, give me a kiss. Allen’s been taking anti-psychotic drugs
since 2009. In one nursing home, he was totally drugged
until you couldn’t even talk to him. Charlene: Yeah, I can tell you’re tired. In an average week, in nursing homes across
the United States, over 179,000 older people, most with dementia, are given antipsychotic
drugs often inappropriately and without their informed consent. Anti-psychotic drugs are FDA approved for
the treatment of psychosis. And they are used in nursing homes not to
treat psychosis but to keep people with dementia quiet and manageable. In Human Rights Watch’s research, we focused
on facilities that had at least 20% of their residents as high as 80% of their residents
taking these drugs inappropriately. Until the 1990s, it was very common for a
nursing homes to use physical restraints, to tie somebody to a chair or a bed with straps. Physical restraints are banned but now many
nursing facilities are using chemical restraints instead. I would talk to the doctor but the doctor
told me that even though I said, I read about the state of Kansas not wanting them on so many psych meds, she said ” This is what they do at this nursing home.” Antipsychotics have an FDA black box warning
label that says if you’re elderly with dementia and you take this drug you have almost double
the risk of death. So not only do they not do what we want them
to do but they cause harm which is really antithetical to everything that we should
all be about in health care. He’s at the point now, he sits in a chair
all day long from the time they have breakfast until they get them ready for bed. It’s actually been holy hell the last few
years. Living apart and not having him be the
man he used to be. Antipsychotic drugs are often given in nursing
homes to people who have not given informed consent. And in some cases, the family members of those
nursing home residents have no knowledge either. If the family brings up the issue of not using
antipsychotic drugs, usually what we hear is that the facility says to them, “Well, it’s either the antipsychotic drugs or you’re going to have to find someplace else for this person to be because we can’t provide the care they need without the drugs.” If he was taken completely off of it, I’d
be afraid they’d kick him out of the nursing home and there’s no place to go but home. And I need 24-hour care at home and can’t afford it. Nursing home staff use these drugs to
make their lives easier. It is a convenience thing. Because at the root of the problem is the
resident’s expression of unmet need or distress or discomfort. And the professional caregiver’s duty is
to identify the source of that problem and address it. One of the few things that a person has left
when they are in a nursing home is the ability to relate to people and communicate and interact with their family and other people living there and staff. And that is what these drugs for no good reason
deprive people of. Karla Benkula: How ya doing? Lois Benkula: I’m doing fine. Karla Benkula: Are you? Karla Benkula: Hair looks pretty. Lois Benkula: Thank you. My mother’s name is Lois Benkula. She’s 75 years old. And when she was younger, she was just a free
spirit. She was the life of the party. She went into a nursing home when she was
72 and she had dementia. The first place instead of hiring staff, they
just put them on medication to control them. When we went to see her, she wouldn’t talk. She wouldn’t laugh. She wouldn’t cry. She wouldn’t do anything. She would just sit and stare, like she wasn’t
even there. We have good federal regulations and a lot
of states have good state laws preventing bad usage of psychotropic drugs
in nursing homes, what we need is enforcement. We need for those laws and regulations
to mean something and right now they mean very little. The drugs should never be used inappropriately. And in every case that they are, there should
be accountability. Lois was able to stop taking antipsychotic
drugs because she’d moved facilities. She’s back. She’s healthy. I used to stand on your feet when I was growing
up. All over the kitchen… She laughs, she smiles. Boy, boy, I’ve got all these things going
on. She talks to me, she remembers things. I got my mom back as much as I can have her
back. I’ll see you later
I’m stupid. No, you’re not stupid. Silly. Silly? Yeah, I’m silly. Wouldn’t have you any other way. No. I’ve still got time to live. Of course. Yes you do. Nobody who has dementia in a nursing home
is safe from the inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs. If you have dementia and somebody in a nursing
facility doesn’t understand what your needs are, you could be given an antipsychotic drug. And you would end your life not being yourself,
not being understood. And there is no reason that this should happen.

About Bill McCormick

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16 thoughts on “United States: Oversedation in Nursing Homes

  1. Is there a way to refuse antipsychotic drugs on your entry form before even entering a nursing home? Think I'd try to insist on that before a nursing home gets any of my LTC insurance dollars. I'm a little amazed at how young some of these folks were when they went into a nursing home. My mom went first into independent living (where we used her LTC insurance to pay for an occasional helper), then assisted living, and finally to a nursing home for about 6 months at age 86. She was alert until she went into hospice the final week before her death.

  2. Thanks for this report. The same thing happens in Canada. This is what antipsychotics did to my Mom: http://myalzheimersstory.com/2018/02/07/dead-to-the-world-what-being-sedated-with-seroquel-did-to-my-mom/

  3. same happens here in Australia, i live in a nursing home in a younger onset cottage, most od the residents in my cottage sleep all day

  4. the nurses should go to jail. I saw in nursing homes and in mental facility, they keep sedating them for no reason at all. They simply want all of them to be quiet, to be stable and be a robot 24/7 so they don't need to do anything. Those nurses are fucking lazy. I even saw one sexy beautiful schizo patient was being molested by male caregivers. This is philippines that I am talking about. Carehomes are never safe believe me. Just hire a private nurse or maid and train them what to do and put lots of camera so you can monitor what they do. Asian carehomes aint safe as well.

  5. They say wiping a diaper in a patience is so evil. I can tolerate that. Even setant physical restraints. But I really appose to antipychotic drugs 100 percent. It makes all the physical restraint all through the 1960' to 1980's look like a pick nick .

  6. FDA-AMA-PSYCHIATRISTS ETC. are Glorified Drug Dealers for Big-Pharma—FDA legally prescribed antidepressants/antipsychotics can and do cause suicidal/homicidal tendencies–FDA legally prescribed Synthetic THC/CBD produced in a laboratory vs.Whole Plant THC/CBD–FDA legally presribed kiddie cocaine/crystal meth such as Adderall/Ritalin etc.—FDA legally prescribed opioids are pharmaceutical grade HEROIN produced in a laboratory—Wake-Up-People !!!

  7. I am not rooting for physical restraints back the 1980s & back. But of  the 2 evils. Antipsychotic drugs are the worst of the evils

  8. This is BS. The State and Federal government mandate that you can't restrain physically, neither can you chemically restrain. Now people don't want patients on ANY sedatives. What ends up happening? Patients are out of control, wandering around, leaving the nursing home, breaking their hips, getting in bed with other patients or attacking staff…and the staff get blamed. It is an absolute no win situation….guess what, lewy body dementia is a no win situation. Its hell no matter where the patient is.

    Many faminaes have unreasonable expectations, like their family member will continue to be like they were before their diagnosis. The only way to get exactly the care you want for your loved one is to keep them at home. If you can't or won't you have to be reasonable about prognosis and level of care. The second case presented here is unusual at best. And I'll bet not a damn one of these "Advocates" have ever spent 5 nights of 12 hour shifts in a row trying to care for 30 dementia/alzheimer's patients.

    Also…you force nurses to take care of physically or mentally abusive patients and take away their ability to protect themselves and they will start to sue for a boatile work environment. It will cause prices to skyrocket and NO ONE will be able to afford nursing home care.

  9. This happened to me. Anti-psychotics were forced on me through a Jarvis Order in Minnesota and it was a living nightmare.


  11. Watch out though, in Canada people with dementia were also drugged, when they stopped sedating them because of so many complaints then resident elderly abuse went way up. One man died from a attack of another man because some of them become violent. There needs to be some middle ground here, maybe they need sedated, but not so sedated or else what do you do?

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