When it comes to caring for your grandparents and parents during their twilight years, many of us are often faced with the challenge of deciding whether or not a nursing home would be the right fit. Nursing homes offer elderly people a tranquil and medically fit environment that can hopefully extend their lives, as well as help them lead comfortable lives while they remain with us. The problem is, however, we all know that nursing homes have come under fire for fostering abusive environments and leaving the elderly exposed to all types of financial scams. And this makes such a decision a challenging one.
Well, add yet another challenging layer to the decision-making process. Kansas nursing homes are being accused of “drugging” the elderly to such extents that many of the residents can hardly even communicate with loved ones anymore. According to an article in the Kansas City Star, Anti-psychotics are being used liberally on for people showing signs of dementia. And the use of these Anti-psychotics has become an utter travesty.
Kansas is placed at the top of the list for states which heavily drug their elderly nursing home residents. And beyond that, Kansas is also top in the nation for medication violations.
The federal government started tracking the off-label use of such medications in nursing homes in 2011. Since then, Kansas has always ranked at or near the top in percentage of medicated residents, suggesting there are thousands of residents in the state’s certified nursing facilities who have been given drugs that aren’t medically indicated for them, and could actually harm them.
“There’s something about that dementia coupled with the anti-psychotics,” said Margaret Farley, a board member for Kansas Advocates for Better Care, a group that represents nursing home residents. “This is not just us saying, ‘Gee, that’s not very good, you’re robbing them of their personality, they won’t talk, they’re not active, etc, etc.’ This is hardcore. This is a 1.6 to 1.7 times increase in deaths that most of the time is related to cardiovascular changes or it’s related to the development of pneumonia.”
Kansas also led the nation last year in percentage of skilled nursing facilities cited by the federal government for a broad slate of medication-related violations, some of which relate to anti-psychotic use.
So long gone are the days of tying the elderly to the bedposts, and ushered in are the days of chemically enslaving them to a point that they hardly even have emotion. Furthermore, this is a way that nursing homes can release themselves from responsibility. If you drug someone enough, you may not even see any of the underlying issues which need treatment or therapy. These nursing homes are drugging factories which allow the nursing homes to sedate their patients into a zombie stat until they pass away.
Some say the nature of the problem lies in the fact that Kansas has issues finding qualified staff members to work in the facilities.
Cindy Luxem, the president and CEO of the Kansas Health Care Association, justified the drugging.
“Anybody who’s spent time with people in the throes of dementia and has seen the kind of internal anguish and volatile behaviors of people with dementia at certain stages, they’re trying to help,” Zehr told the KCStar.
Allow this to serve as a lesson to those who may be considering a nursing home facility, things are not always what they may seem.