Pharmaceutical companies view the elderly as a lucrative market. However a panel of experts at the recent Senate Aging Committee forum decided to speak up. Over-medication occurs far too often in those diagnosed with dementia, the panel warned, and as baby boomers age the problem will only worsen. One reason overmedication occurs, per this panel, is family members, caregivers, and nursing home workers often misinterpret patients’ complaints about physical ailments as unruly or aggressive conduct. To manage their behavior, such patients are administered antipsychotics they don’t need.
About five million patients are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. “Those in this field have a feeling we’re headed in a very fast train toward the end of a cliff,” stated Patricia Grady, PhD, director of the National Institute of Nursing Research. Director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Patricia McGinnis, demanded nursing homes be held “accountable” for the drugs they administer. “The way anti-psychotic drugs are used in nursing homes is a form of elder abuse,” she told the forum. “Instead of providing individualized care, many homes indiscriminately use these drugs to sedate and subdue residents.”