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Drugging dementia: Are antipsychotics killing nursing home patients?

‘America Tonight’ investigates why a third of long-term nursing home patients with dementia receive antipsychotics

Personal Note from NHAA Advocates: NHAA shares with all the families of loved ones who are confined to nursing homes the pain and anguish of putting them in the care of someone else. We expect our loved ones to be treated with dignity and honor in the homes we place them. We cannot emphasize enough to family members of nursing home residents; frequent visits are essential to our loved ones’ well-being and safety. This nursing home and many others across the country are cited for abuse and neglect.

You can make a difference. If you have a loved one living in this nursing home or any other nursing home where you suspect any form of abuse or neglect, contact us immediately. We can help you file a state complaint, hire a specialized nursing home attorney or help you find a more suitable location for your loved one.

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13 Responses to “Drugging dementia: Are antipsychotics killing nursing home patients?”

  1. Grace Condemi says:

    My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers ten years ago, she has been living with me since then, I always took care of her myself, but yes Haldol was prescribed to her 7 years ago because of her being very agitated and violent. I do remember her being nice and quiet and sleeping in the morning, but I never gave her more than maybe one a day,. Sometimes the effect would last for a couple of days so when she would start being agitated again I would give her one, the minimum dose, one milligram. I still was giving it to her once again about a year ago because she started to scream a lot and would go through the whole night yelling. The doctor would say that its the sickness, and so I would give her one and she would be ok. But then I started reading about the side effects and noticed one of them being her jumping like getting attacks that would make her jump, so I discussed with the doctor and told me that, the dose was minimum so it would not do any long term harm.Any ways I talked to my pharmacist and he completely was against me giving it to her, so I stopped completely, not even one a month, but I still can’t find one that will keep her from yelling out or screaming the whole day. I have tried Ativan and nothing, then the doctor prescribed Serax, nothing, the minimum dose would not have any effect on her. So I decided not to give her anything and hoping that its just a fase she is going through and it will pass. Some days she is very good, she sleeps mostly at night, once in awhile
    she might scream till about 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning but then will fall asleep of tiredness. The doctor always tells me that if she weren’t home she would of gone a long time ago, so she couldn’t get better care than in her own home, with the best love and attention she gets from the family and friends that are close to her.. I always thank God for letting her be with me and hope she will continue to stay the way she is. I would never place her, she’s my mother and she brought me into this world and suffered all her life to take care of me so, I couldn’t abandon her to strangers. God Bless Everyone.

  2. Connie Foley says:

    I understand the problem but I want to mention that in some cases they need to use antipsychotic medication. My husband was absolutely crazy. I was afraid of him. Until he got on antipsychotics I simply could not deal with him. He needed that drug.
    Now he is calm and more often rational. I’d rather have him calm with meds than restrained.
    He suffers from Parkinson’s with Lewy Body Dementia. It’s a horrible disease and it’s very scary.
    I also don’t think Medicare should have the power to decide medications. That’s up to the doctors.

  3. Not Stupid says:

    Have you ever worked with dementia patients? Where do you put them when you can no longer care for them? Nursing home right? If they were easy to care for family would step up and take care of them. Can’t handle them so they stick them in a nursing home. Whose fault is it they are in nursing home? Why can’t you just take care of them at home if it is so damn easy? Can’t do can you? You chicken shits have no idea what you are doing nor do you care about these people. Why don’t you advocate for more money for these facilities that get stuck with what society does not want to deal with. Sad

  4. Marcia Holguin says:

    Not only are nursing homes/assisted living facilities horrible for drugging dementia/alzheimer’s patients, but hospitals as well. I have so many horror stories. Families must be diligent and NEVER allow any drugs to be given to their loved unless approved by them first.

  5. Ann Gray says:

    It doesn’t just happen in nursing homes, this happened to my mom in 2004 in hospital and of course covered up by medical staff. This happened on the next to last stay at hospital and nurses just didn’t want to be bothered so told Dr she was combative and he order drugs. The staff she had on her last stay before her death were great, but the damage had already been done, wish she could have had last medical staff first.

  6. Charlene Rudd says:

    My mom died Feb2015 from this.

  7. Ann Marie Lasinski says:

    My ex-husband whom I was a caregiver for in my home, is receiving at least 500mg. Depacote and 300mg. Seroquel per day and now Haloperidol. He is 58 with Frontotemporal Dementia and was sent to Holliswood In Queens, but lived 6 hours away in Syracuse, NY. I try to go on weekends as much as possible to see him, but it has become costly, as I stay overnight 1or 2 nights. He has a different injury or issue every time I come. I am the only family that cares and Adult protective as co-guardians have visited 1x in the hospital where the Nursing Home sent him recently. I am the only one advocating for him and will lose my temporary guardianship in June. It is very sad and indefensible to see him like this.

  8. Marisa Conover says:

    To those who have made comments on this America Tonight Expose’ – I am the Daughter of Genine Zizzo, one of the Victims featured in this story. First of all, you need to know that my Mother did NOT have Dementia. She was a very petite, independent, lovely Woman who lived in the home I grew up in for over 50 years! She did have Congestive Heart Failure and it was being managed with her regular Cardiologist. I was very close to my Mom and VERY ProActive in her Healthcare. She took all of the appropriate steps through her Attorney by having up to date and notarized Documents naming me Durable Power Of Attorney AND Medical Durable Power Of Attorney, in case of a Medical Emergency or a situation where she might become incapacitated, that I would make those decisions on her behalf. I was her DURABLE AND MEDICAL DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY IN FACT, who had decision making power over all other decision makers, including decision making power over MDs! She had an accidental fall at home and an Xray confirmed she had a back sprain. Hospital ER MD recommended a week or two of Physical Therapy in a Rehab Center and then return home. I went to Roseville Point Health and Wellness Center, PRIOR to allowing my Mom to go there and I told Staff as well as Executive Staff that NO Anti-Psychotic Drugs were to be used, for ANY reason or under ANY circumstances, even in a “Medical Emergency”. My husband and I were assured that they “would never do that”, it was “not their policy” and they would “see to it; it was in her chart”. My Mother was Forcibly Injected with Haldol, Against Her Will AND Against MY Orders as her Durable and Medical Durable Power Of Attorney by a Malicious Nurse. She died 12 days later, in an Irreversible Vegetative State with Dehydration, Urinary Tract Infection, Dysphagia (trouble swallowing), Multiple Organ Failure and a Fractured Spine! She had NONE of those Medical Issues when she entered Roseville Point Health and Wellness Center. To the commenter that would dare suggest I would “stick” my Mother in a Nursing Home and “not care” is extremely offensive! NO MD called me that night, NO Nurse called me that night, NO Pharmacist called me that night, NO subordinate staff call me that night…NO ONE CALLED ME THAT NIGHT. I will NOT rest, until the Malicious Staff who were responsible for this insidious assault are held Criminally Accountable!

  9. Ann Marie Lasinski says:

    I am so scared. I am going to lose any chances of getting Permanent Guardianship over my ex-husband whom I was a caregiver for because Adult protective feels I would bring him harm because I have spoken out against the overuse of antipsychotic medication on my ex-husband in the Long-Term Care Facility he is in. He has never been without these drugs. Nothing else was tried first before the drugs. He can barely stay awake to eat meals. It is awful. All I want to do is try weaning him off the meds and see how he does. You can see how negatively the drugs have affected him.

  10. Libbie Whitson says:

    I worked in three different nursing homes, Va.Ga.Tn. and they are all the same…if friends or family members didn’t visit frequent their love ones in the nursing home….the treatment is unreal by the nurses, and aids…don’t fail to report the abuse and neglect of your love one…your love one is not a patient, they are called residents….those caregivers will have to give an account one day how they treated these poor elderly patients…

    • Marisa Conover says:

      I can only imagine what they do to people who don’t have family or an advocate watching out for them. My Mother, Genine Zizzo, is a featured Victim in this story. I was there E V E R Y S I N G L E D A Y as well as every evening and yet, they STILL forcibly injected her with Haldol, against her Will and against MY Orders as her DPOA/MDPOA. I will not rest until the malicious staff involved in this egregious medical assault are held criminally accountable!

  11. larry says:

    If you don’t want them sedated then go sit beside their bed so they don’t hang themselves on their IV tubing. Theres other patients there the staff has to attend to . Families DUMP their parents at these places then complain they are sedated, maybe because they are a harm to themselves and everyone else!

    • Marisa Conover says:

      “Larry”, your assumptions and erroneous statements, particularly regarding the two victims featured in this story, make you look like a pompous ass. Obviously, you didn’t take the time to watch the program to educate yourself before hurling arrogant, ignorant and offensive comments. Your statement “There’s other patients there, the staff has to attend to” infers that you drug patients for your convenience and that is Felony Elder Abuse in the United States.


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