Elderly Misuse of Antipsychotics: A Disturbing National Trend

A recent National Public Radio (NPR) investigation revealed that nearly 20 percent of senior nursing home residents receive some form of antipsychotic medications.

Similar reports, drawing from the NPR investigation, found significantly higher rates of antipsychotic drug usage concentrated in the Western New York area.  In the Rochester region, data revealed that antipsychotic drug usage rates reached up to 30 percent.*

A recent National Public Radio (NPR) investigation revealed that nearly 20 percent of senior nursing home residents receive some form of antipsychotic medications.

Similar reports, drawing from the NPR investigation, found significantly higher rates of antipsychotic drug usage concentrated in the Western New York area.  In the Rochester region, data revealed that antipsychotic drug usage rates reached up to 30 percent.*

These statistics are concerning as recent news has suggested that many seniors in nursing care facilities are often given antipsychotics meant to treat conditions that they do not actually have. For example, a 2011 government study found that 88 percent of Medicare claims for antipsychotics prescribed in nursing homes were for treating symptoms of dementia, even though the drugs were not approved for that. The consequences of such overmedication can lead to unfortunate complications, including an increase in the risk of accident, injury, and even heart failure.

In response to this trend, the federally-operated Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services instituted a national campaign to reduce the misuse of antipsychotics. Despite its efforts, however, investigations reveal that the government has been slow to penalize caregivers that run afoul of the program’s mission.

Federal law prohibits the use of antipsychotics drugs for the 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 her Senior Care facility, contact an experienced New York Elder Law attorney at the Law Office of Tanya Hobson-Williams at (718) 210-4744.

*While the numbers are alarming, Medical professionals in the Rochester region maintain that the comparatively higher usage rates reflect the elderly patient’s higher need for the medications. Statistics suggest that the Rochester region leads the nation in care for elderly patients with substantial and complex needs, providing support for the medical professionals’ contentions that such medications are necessary to treat their elderly patients.

Written by Tanya Hobson-Williams

Appointed to the bench by the Board of Trustees in 2008, and elected in 2009, Tanya Hobson-Williams was the first African-American Female Justice in the Incorporated Village of Hempstead. Tanya Hobson–Williams obtained her B.A. in Government and Politics from St. John’s University and her law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Tanya Hobson-Williams has an active elder law practice assisting senior citizens in obtaining Medicaid for Home Care and Nursing Home Care. She routinely lectures at senior citizen centers, assisted living facilities, law schools and counsels families on a variety of topics of concerns to families caring for the elderly.

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Author: Tanya Hobson-Williams

Appointed to the bench by the Board of Trustees in 2008, and elected in 2009, Tanya Hobson-Williams was the first African-American Female Justice in the Incorporated Village of Hempstead. Tanya Hobson–Williams obtained her B.A. in Government and Politics from St. John's University and her law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Tanya Hobson-Williams has an active elder law practice assisting senior citizens in obtaining Medicaid for Home Care and Nursing Home Care. She routinely lectures at senior citizen centers, assisted living facilities, law schools and counsels families on a variety of topics of concerns to families caring for the elderly.

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