It is a sad truth that many nursing home patients are given medications that they do not need. Those medications are given to them to make them more “manageable,” in the home, which often means sleepy, dazed and unable to speak up for help and assistance.
While there are certainly times when drugs like tranquilizers and antipsychotics should be used, they are often overused in a nursing home care setting and lead to nursing home abuse. These chemical restraints may make patients easier to handle, but they hurt their quality of life and restrict their voluntary movement.
What is the real intention of chemical restraints?
In a setting where chemical restraints are needed, the goal is to protect a patient. For example, a patient who is violent toward themselves or others may be given a chemical restraint while a hospital sets up a safe room for them or figures out the right medication combination to help them with their recovery.
Usually, when using chemical restraints, there has to be documentation showing why alternatives were not used. That way, if the need for a chemical restraint does come up, there is evidence showing that all other methods were attempted first.
Chemical restrains are often used in violent and severely agitated patients, but they can be harmful in the elderly. Those suffering from memory loss and neurological problems like dementia typically are not candidates for chemical restraints.
What are some common chemical restraints?
Some common chemical restraints include:
· Atypical antipsychotics
If you see that your loved one has been given one of these medications and you have not previously seen it prescribed, it’s worth looking into the reasoning for their use. If their family doctor or others they see did not prescribe the medication, then this is cause for concern. It is a red flag that could mean that the nursing home isn’t able to handle the changes that your loved one is going through and that your loved one is being treated unfairly and abused with chemical restraints.