People with a loved one in a nursing home often become drug experts.  Drugs such as Risperdal, Ativan, and Zyprexa are frequently used in nursing homes, and not always for the right reasons. 

Even though it is not allowed under Federal law or the New Jersey Responsibilities of Nursing Homes Statute, N.J.S.A. 30:13-3(f), nursing homes may use psychotropic drugs as “chemical restraints” simply to save time, make residents compliant, and for convenience of the staff.  This can be especially true in understaffed facilities. 

There are numerous risks involved with this practice, including drug dependency and side effects, not to mention the immorality of the practice. 

However, it does not have to be this way.  There are nursing homes where the owners and administrators have been moving to reduce the use of drugs in their facilities.  Here is a New York Times article discussing this problem and some alternative therapies getting excellent results – such as exercise, activities, music, massage, and aromatherapy.

One nursing home, “eliminated anything considered potentially restraining, from deep-seated wheelchairs that hinder standing up to bedrails (some beds are lowered and protected by mats). It drastically reduced the need for antipsychotics and medications considered primarily for ‘staff convenience,’ focusing on relieving pain.”  You can find an enlightening and inspiring discussion about this home online here

This same nursing home, which looks “outdated” and “institutional,” is actually a top rated five-star facility.  This facility reported that fewer medications and restrictions, along with alternative therapies and caring staff in adequate numbers produced great outcomes with residents suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.