States’ Role in Limiting Inappropriate Use of Antipsychotic Meds in Nursing Homes

As nursing homes have moved away from using physical restraints, there is evidence that some institutions are substituting antipsychotic medications to sedate residents with behavior problems. Why is this a dangerous and inappropriate practice? Inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs by nursing homes exposes elderly vulnerable people to increased risk of falls, delirium, stroke and death. In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general testified before the Senate Aging Committee that antipsychotic drugs were being prescribed in “violation of …

Help for Family Caregivers

While traveling to Erie, Pa., for a town meeting on family caregiving, I was reflecting on my family roots. A little more than 100 years ago, my Lithuanian grandparents immigrated to America and made Shenandoah, Pa., their first hometown. My grandfather worked in the coal mines and my grandmother, fluent in six languages, worked various jobs while raising five children – one of whom was my mom. My grandparents taught me about hard work and perseverance, and my parents taught …

States Start Shifting Focus to Help Seniors Live Independently, at Home

“We need to ‘spring’ your mother,” Pop, who loved prison movies, told me over the phone while asking me to come home that weekend. Mom had been in a rehabilitation center for two weeks following a bad fall and a hospital stay. Both she and Pop were ready for her to go home. My mom and pop, like most Americans, wanted to stay in their home and community as they aged. Pop became the primary family caregiver for Mom, and …

The Power of Pause: Taking Time to Visit Seniors

I’ll admit it: I love a good to-do list. When I’ve got a lot on my plate, or even when I don’t, there’s something so satisfying about crossing things off as I go. But my latest project has been a lesson in letting go of the list. As part of my grad school assistantship, I’m administering cognitive tests to older adults at a care facility near campus. When my adviser, Kate, told me about it, I was excited to jump …

New Government Website Tackles Long-Term Care Infection

You’ve heard it before. You go into the hospital for one thing and come out with another: a whopping infection contracted there. Did you know that you’re also at risk for infection in assisted living and nursing homes? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just launched a website to help put the brakes on infection in long-term care settings. The numbers are big. Every year, the CDC estimates that 1 million to 3 million long-term care residents contract …

Nanny Cams in Nursing Homes – Protection or Invasion of Privacy?

Imagine that your mother is in a long-term care facility. On your weekend visits, she’s told you that the nurses and aides there are taking things from her, pinching her and refusing to change her diapers when she soils them. You want to believe your mother, but you’ve been told that her nursing home is one of the best in the state. You also know that your mother has mild dementia and that when you gently raise the issue with …