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Chemical restraints are a risk to the elderly

Medication should never be used as a way to control patients. While there are some instances where sedatives are required for people who are out of control, the truth is that some nursing home patients have been put on medications to make them easier to deal with. Some medications make them tired, so they sleep all day and can't be argumentative. Other medications may make them confused or dazed, so they comply with the nurse's or aid's wishes without causing trouble.

This isn't a great way to deal with patients or the elderly in a nursing home's care. Medications have side effects and can lead to serious complications and injuries in the elderly if they're misused. There are risks of dehydration, falls, confusion and other side effects with some medications, which could go as far as to threaten an elderly person's life.

What should you do if you believe medications are being used incorrectly in a nursing home?

The first thing to do is to verify why the medication is being given to your loved one. For example, an antianxiety medication may be given to a patient for panic attacks. During those attacks, they take the medication and feel better. However, using those medications every day (against the intended purpose) could make someone very sick depending on their strength and side effects. It may help control them, make them drowsy or keep them from panicking and calling the nurses, but it's not the right way to use the medication.

If you find that antipsychotics or other medications are being used to chemically restrain your loved one, it's simply for the purpose of making them "easier to handle." That's not fair to them, and it can lead to side effects, complications and accidents.

If you see that antipsychotics or other medications are being used on your loved one and that they're having a negative effect, you should speak with the nursing home provider. They should be able to talk to you about the prescription, its purpose and why your loved one is on it. If they can't give you a good reason or a medical provider says that they shouldn't be on those medications, then it's important to have them taken off the medication and to go into a more thorough investigation into how your loved one has been treated while being a resident in this nursing home.

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