According to a recent piece produced by National Public Radio, anti-psychotic medications, intended to treat serious conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, are routinely used off-label to treat nursing home residents for alzheimer’s disease and dementia. These medications are often used when unnecessary as a means of controlling residents or chemically restraining active or talkative residents. The use of these chemical restraints is often medically unnecessary and illegal. According to Dr.Bradley Williams of the University of Southern California, these medications should only be prescribed for dementia patients as a last resort and then only for short periods of time. Commonly prescribed antipsychotic medications in nursing homes include Risperdal and Haldol, both of which carry with them a number of harmful side effects. In fact, according to Risperdal‘s website, “Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with antipsychotic drugs are an an increased risk of death compared to placebo.” Furthermore, according to Dr. Williams, these drugs can actually increase a patient’s risk of falls. This is particularly worrisome when past falls or risk factors for falls are often a primary motivating factor in moving a loved one to a nursing home or long term care facility in the first place. Even more worrisome, is the fact that family members are often given little information concerning the side effects of these medications. As with every aspect of a loved one’s care, it is important to stay involved in the decision making process, participate in care conferences, ask questions and do not hesitate to seek a second opinion. If you believe a loved one has been the victim of overmedication or other neglect or abuse, contact our nursing home attorneys today.