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.

How Meditation and Prayer Promotes Impacts Aging

Note: This post is not intended to promote or discourage any type of religious believe.  We found the research interesting and felt readers would find it interesting regardless of the religions, or lack of, religious beliefs.

Previous research has shown religion to have a positive effect on older peoples’ lives.

Older people who practice religion tend to be more physically healthier than those who did not. The reason why is because older people who practice solitary spiritual pursuits are engaged in purposeful activities that give them inner satisfaction.

The idea that a personal relationship with a higher being through prayer promotes successful aging is an example of selective optimization with compensation. This theory says that successful aging is dependent on a person selecting a specific task important to them, and then completing that task by optimizing the skills they still have while compensating for the skills they no longer have.

The classic textbook example illustrates an older man who wants to keep his driver’s license but knows he can no longer see at night. What does he do? He only drives during the day and finds someone to drive him around at night. Now back to the prayer example; by SELECTING prayer as a means to maintain religious identity, older adults are OPTIMIZING their current abilities while COMPENSATING that they are no longer able to be as physically involved with their church as they use to be.

Studies have found that a prerequisite to these benefits is an existing belief in a higher being. Sometimes people dealing with the end stages of life seek out religion as a way to come to terms with death. This has been shows to have little impact, as individuals were not show to receive the emotional and physical benefits of prayer unless they has an existing belief in the who/what they are praying to.

The role of meditation

It should also be noted that meditation has many of the same benefits that prayer has. People who practice meditation are physically healthier than those who do not. It is probably because meditation helps people deal with a stress in a more healthy manner.

Both practices–prayer and meditation–help people deal with stress and anxiety. Prayer teaches people to give their worries to a higher being, meditation teaches people to let their worries just go. What’s the secret to successful aging? To age successfully you need engage in meaningful activities that bring your inner satisfaction that also reduce your stress.

Photo credit: Kris_B

About the Author: Ryan Malone is the founder of InsideElder Care and author of the ByFamilies, For Families Guide to Assisted Living. He regularly speaks and advises families about how to improve their aging loved one’s quality of life. Ryan is also the president of SmartBug Media, a content marketing agency that helps companies increase leads, customers and influence. You can read more from Ryan on the SmartBug Media blog or follow him on Twitter.


Alzheimer’s Drug Shows Promise, Begins Phase III Trials


A third set of clinical trials to seek a drug to delay the progression of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease is about to get underway, drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. said today.

The Indianapolis company will begin enrolling patients this month in two separate but identical Phase III clinical trials of Solanezumab, an antibody that may hold the key to preventing the disease that affects 5.3 million people in the United States alone.

Lilly also is in the process of testing out a different type of Alzheimer’s treatment, also geared to help those with the disease, which is known to cause dementia.

“Current therapies available to treat Alzheimer’s disease may help with symptoms, but they haven’t been proven to change the disease progression,” said Eric Siemers M.D., medical director for Lilly’s Alzheimer’s disease research, in a news release. “Biomarker results from a Phase II solanezumab trial give us hope that Lilly is on a path toward a treatment that may slow the rate of progression of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Lilly expects to enroll a total of 2,000 patients age 55 and over from 16 countries, including the U.S., in the Phase III “Expedition” trials.

Patients or caregivers interested in learning how to enroll in the Expedition trials (or a companion trial for a different treatment, known as “Identity” trials) should visit or call (877) 285-4559.

Photo credit: Sam Catchesides

Reader Q&A: Who Should Manage Medications?

One of our readers, Lynn, posted a comment to our article on why you need to understand medication management. It’s a good question, and it makes sense to share the answer with the broader audience. Lynn asks:

Ryan, my parents are now in an Assisted Living Community. I’ve been told that they must turn over administration of their meds to the Nurse. Problem is, that there is constantly problems with the meds given by the nurse, ie. meds from another patient, not given at proper time, cannot identify the pill, not all prescriptions given. They tell me that this is a Federally mandated law that my parents cannot self administer, is this true?
We live in Tennessee.


[Read more...]

Why You Need to Understand Medication Management

Early in my mom’s tenure in assisted living, I noticed her monthly bill had a significant expense labeled as “medication management.” As someone who rarely takes any medication, I realized I needed to understand the process better.  I’ll be dedicating several posts in near future to this topic, as I believe family involvement in medication management is critical.

Medication is a Major Issue

According to a 2006 study by the three leading non-profits — ACHA, NCAL and the MEFC, medication is often a major component of an older person’s life, making it a major issue for assisted living facilities. The role of medication and medication assistance (called “medication management” by assisted living administrators) is surprising:

  • 77.5% of residents needed assistance with medications
  • Residents were taking an average of 13 medications

In an assisted living setting, residents rely heavily on staff to assist with the timely and correct delivery of medication.  But in the United States alone, nearly two million Americans experience adverse drug reactions from prescription medication each year.

What can you do to protect your loved one? A better understanding of medication management can help.

[Read more...]