Over Medication of Elderly in Nursing Care Still an Issue of Concern

According to a report conducted by NPR in December 2014, nearly 300,000 nursing home residents are currently receiving antipsychotic drugs that are normally used to treat symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

These drugs, however, are approved mainly to treat serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Furthermore, when it comes to dementia, many of these drugs can increase the risk for heart failure and infections. The drugs have also been noted to greatly raise the risk of falls leading to serious injuries such as a hip fracture.

Furthermore, many experts in the medical field note that such antipsychotic drugs are not necessary in the vast majority of dementia cases. Other experts note that antipsychotics should only be used as a last resort, and just for a month or so, before gradually being eliminated.

According to a 2011 government study, 88 percent of Medicare claims for antipsychotics prescribed in nursing homes were for treating symptoms of dementia, even though the drugs aren’t approved for that. Following the publication of the government’s findings, federal efforts were taken to reduce the use of antipsychotics by 15 percent. While 15 percent reduction was supposed to take less than a year, it ended up taking nearly two, while still leaving nearly 300,000 nursing home residents on questionable antipsychotic medications.

There are a number of estate planning techniques available to help curb the risks that are associated with selecting long-term care and treatment options. Such techniques can help you and your loved ones choose when, where, and how your future care will be provided. A plan today helps mitigate the risks of tomorrow. To set up a consultation with the Long Island elder law attorneys at Maroney Associates, PLLC, please call us at (866) 994-2025.