Overmedication of elderly residents common in nursing homes

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Mar 26, 2012 in Nursing Home Information

The decision to move a loved one to a nursing home is a serious decision for family members. In an effort to ensure they chose the best nursing home, well-intended sons and daughters may visit the facility multiple times, observe how staff members interact with residents and ask for health inspection records. What many families do not realize, however, is that many nursing home accidents and deaths occur as the result of overmedication and medication errors .

The founder of the Foundation Aiding The Elderly, recalled how years ago her aunt was moved to a nursing home for rehabilitation after breaking her hip. The aunt, however, became bed-ridden after being prescribed a high dose of an antipsychotic drug that rendered her unable to communicate. Unable to move or communicate, she subsequently died from an abscessed bed sore.

The woman laments that she and her family didn't know what medications their aunt was taking, and therefore did not ask questions or intervene until it was unfortunately too late.

Today, as the baby boomer generation moves into their golden years, there will be increased demand for nursing home facilities. Whereas past generations may never have thought to question a doctor, it's important that baby boomers and their families ask questions related to why a drug is being prescribed and how it may interact with other medications. It's also important that nursing home residents are monitored to determine if they are experiencing adverse side effects as a result of their prescription medications.

The overmedication of nursing home residents can lead to increased accidents and injuries including falls and bed sores. Likewise, overmedication can negatively impact a resident's overall quality of life, rendering them lifeless and unable to communicate or enjoy daily activities. Family members must diligently advocate for their loved ones and ask questions to ensure overmedication is not an issue.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Overmedication Of The Elderly Is A National Disgrace," Carole Herman, Mar. 23, 2012

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