How to Spot Overmedication in Nursing Homes

Medication Management

Millions of Americans place their loved ones in nursing homes every year with the belief that their parents and grandparents will be cared for at all times. Unfortunately, with one out of every three nursing homes cited for abuse across the country, nursing home abuse is a very real problem in the United States. From dehydration and malnutrition to mental and sexual abuse, there are a variety of ways that residents can be mistreated in a nursing home facility. One common way many nursing home or assisted living facility residents can suffer is through overmedication.

One of the most important parts of nursing home care is ensuring nursing home residents are receiving the proper amount of medication at all times. And with the average nursing home resident taking seven to eight different medications a month, this can be a very involved process. Even with federal regulations in place to ensure nursing homes have a system to provide residents with the appropriate amount of medication according to their doctor or pharmacist’s orders, many residents suffer from overmedication every year.

In 2010, statistics from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that over 17 percent of all nursing home patients were receiving antipsychotic medications that exceeded the recommended levels on a daily basis. This number has reportedly been as high as 25 percent in the state of California and even a staggering 71 percent in the state of Florida. Even more alarming statistics suggest that close to 40 percent of nursing home residents were given antipsychotic drugs in 2010 even though they were not diagnosed with psychosis.

Unfortunately, a large number of nursing home abuse cases go unreported. If your loved one is a nursing home resident, you need to be aware of the signs of overmedication so you can take appropriate action. Some of the most common signs of overmedication include:

  • Erratic or unexplained change in personality and behavior
  • Sudden reclusive actions (even toward family members)
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Oversleeping
  • Medical complications or other unusual physical symptoms
  • Loved one appearing easily confused

The new trend of using psychoactive medication to control nursing home residents is extremely dangerous. The Food and Drug Administration estimates roughly 15,000 nursing home residents die every year from unprescribed anti-psychotics. This method of treating nursing home residents is unfortunately used for the following reasons:

  • Nursing home staff shortages
  • A “drug first” mentality when treating elderly patients

If you believe your loved one is suffering from overmedication, ask to see a log of the drugs given to your loved one or visit the nursing home when medication is typically given. You may also seek the assistance of a medical professional or attorney to have experienced and professional help on your side.

About the Author: Donna Swanson is a professional blogger who regularly contributes to a number of different sites. She is passionate about helping people understand how a nursing home abuse lawyer can help those who have been the unfortunate victims of nursing home abuse.

  • Maryv

    Great Information!  Sounds like there needs to be family local to the nursing home – do you recommend moving a parent/grandparent closer to family caregivers? Or?

  • Ryan Malone

    Personally, I think you are always better offer being close because you’ll have more oversight than if not. But sometimes the friends your loved one has near them can make a great difference. Sorry to be some wishy washy, but…
    Just as much diligence as you can on the community – that’s half the battle.

  • Janet Essex

    Thanks for the information Ryan, I had no idea it was such a problem. That Florida figure is just shocking.

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  • Beverly Williams Donias

    My mom was close to me I visited every other day. she was there for rehab. When the nursing homes gave her mental drugs it caused her to have an altered mental status No family authorized this . I insisted she be removed from the unnecessary drugs, The nursing home to the probate court who then had Mom removed from our decisionmaking and placed her under Guardianship. Court and nursing home plotted together and had Mom declared demented and placed her in hospice. Mom was allowed to be overmedicated, starved and dehydrated to death. Mom had no serious health issues. They did this to coverup the abuse and neglect she was receiving. To this day we have not had justice. The system is so corrupt.

  • Ryan Malone

    I am really sorry about this Beverly. There are definitely some scary things out that that people need to be aware of and monitor.

  • Stacyjames

    I agreed with your views on this! Bournemouth Nursing Homes

  • gary

    is it possible to contact u by email regarding a similiar problem

  • Beverly Williams Donias

    Gary can u give me your email and I will contact you. thanks

  • Beverly Williams Donias

    or send me message FB

  • gary thank you Beverly !

  • theresa

    My mother is in a nursing home. And I believe my bother is abusing his power over her. He is her legal guardian. She has dementia and yes she has her moments. But the Dr told my brother that she fell 3 times when it was because she was given too much iron and her bottom number of bp was 40. He is having her moved to a lockdown level the Dr is making my mother out to be a danger to herself and society. He has put her on abilify which is dangerous to dementia patients .vwhat can I do to help here she does not need to be locked up . when she is with her daughters away from the home she is much better. Locking her away will kill my mother. She is not an educated woman and my brother promised he was coming back to get her. She does not understand what she did wrong that he left her there. Please helpv

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  • Elderly Misuse of Antipsychotics | Hobson-Williams

    [...] convenience of the caregiving staff.  Thus, it is important that loved ones be cognizant of the signs of over-medication. If you suspect that you or your elderly loved one is being subjected to over-medication in his or [...]

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    wow didn’t realize how many people out there
    feel the same way as me!!!!!!!
    and this is such an epidemic!!

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