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What Is Happening to Our Loved Ones With Dementia?

You know the feeling that nursing home staff must experience when your loved one is having problems. Your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia has behavior that is out of control. It is scary and it may endanger your loved one or someone else.

It has to stop, but how? There is no easy answer. It takes a lot of hard work and it is one of the reasons why your loved one needs the round the clock care that his nursing home provides. Now, however, you are learning that the nursing home is managing your loved one’s behavior with antipsychotic drugs.

Is That Okay?

Unless your loved one needs antipsychotic drugs for reasons approved by the FDA and recommended by his doctor, then the answer is probably no.

Recent research published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that people with dementia who were taking antipsychotic drugs had an increased risk of death when compared to other people with dementia who had their behavior managed in other ways. The risk of death is higher and the potential benefit of the medications is lower than previously thought, according to the study.

There are ways to manage the behaviors of people with dementia without the use of antipsychotic medications, but they may require more staff, more time, and more effort than filling a prescription.

Families in Illinois Should Be Aware of This Risk

While all families with loved ones who suffer from dementia need to be aware of the potential risk, recent data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services indicates that the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes is of particular concern in Illinois. In late 2014, CMS ranks the 50 states and the District of Columbia according to the percentage of nursing home residents taking antipsychotic drugs during the second quarter of 2014. According to the CMS rankings, only two states had more nursing home patients on antipsychotic drugs than Illinois. Illinois ranked 49th out of 51 jurisdictions, with 23.7 percent of long stay residents taking antipsychotic medications.

If you are concerned about your loved one, then please speak with his doctor and nursing home administrator to discuss other ways to manage your loved one’s behavior.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham
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