On the front cover of a December issue of the Wall Street Journal read, “POWERFUL ANTIPSYCHOTICS USED TO SUBDUE ELDERLY.” This jest of the article raises the concerns associated with the overuse of drugs for elderly patients to quiet their symptoms and make them less bothersome and more manageable. The Centers for Medicate and Medicaid Services has reported that the abuse is possibly so bad that 21% of nursing home patients who do not have psychosis diagnoses are receiving antipsychotic drugs.
The real question then becomes WHY? The simple answer is that many of these homes and understaffed and overpopulated and a quiet resident is much easier to care for that a demanding one. But residents are crying out for a reason; they are in pain or need something. The answer is not to drug them.
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